Science Advisory Report 2019/057
Risk Assessment of Permitted Human Activities in Rockfish Conservation Areas in British Columbia
- Between 2003 and 2007, 164 Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) were established. A number of fishing activities were not permitted in RCAs at the time of implementation. Commercial and recreational fisheries that were considered a low risk of causing rockfish mortality are permitted, as are First Nations’ rights to fish for food, social, and ceremonial (FSC) purposes, and select commercial and recreational fisheries. This review focuses on only currently permitted human activities within RCAs.
- The focus of this review was to determine whether current management measures (i.e. permitted activities) within RCAs inhibit these areas from achieving their conservation objectives and whether RCAs could be considered as other effective area-based conservation measures (OEABCMs).
- OEABCMs are area-based management measures that provide one or more biodiversity conservation benefits. Current DFO guidance identifies five criteria for area-based management measures to be considered OEABCMs: 1) clearly defined geographic location; 2) conservation or stock management objectives; 3) presence of ecological components of interest; 4) long-term duration of implementation; and, 5) ecological components of interest are effectively conserved.
- RCAs were reviewed to determine if the areas met the first four criteria above. To determine if RCAs met the fifth criterion (ecological components of interest effectively conserved), a Level 1 qualitative risk assessment was conducted using a modified version of the Ecological Risk Assessment Framework (ERAF; O et al. 2015).
- The ERAF is an assessment tool that evaluates those permitted activities that may affect the significant ecosystem components (SECs) of RCAs (Inshore Rockfish, inshore rockfish prey, and rocky reef habitats) and assesses the relative risk of harm of those activities and associated stressors, but does not identify levels of acceptable risk or set thresholds.
- This risk assessment addressed currently permitted activities within RCAs to assess the risk of harm across RCAs to inshore rockfish population but did not assess the risk of harm to individual RCAs nor did it identify acceptable levels of risk. This risk assessment could not assess the following permitted activities due to data limitations: Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) fishing (except FSC dual fishing groundfish hook and line), and recreational fishing.
- The risk assessment identified eight permitted activities with the potential to prevent RCAs from meeting OEABCM criterion 5: outfalls, commercial crab fishing by trap, coastal infrastructure, oil spills, commercial prawn and shrimp fishing by trap, FSC dual fishing groundfish hook and line, movement and storage of logs, and finfish aquaculture.
- Overall, this review found that RCAs collectively meet OEABCM criteria 1, 2 and 3; whereby criteria 4 needs further work to be met. Further work is also required for criterion 5.
- Recommendations from this peer review process included the development of a management strategy and monitoring plan for the RCA network, which includes ecological indicators, baseline monitoring, catch reporting as well as compliance metrics. To determine risk on a scale of individual RCAs, future risk assessments may be required.
This Science Advisory Report is from the December 12 to 14, 2018 and May 2 to 3, 2019 Risk Assessment of Permitted Human Activities in Rockfish Conservation Areas in British Columbia. Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Advisory Schedule as they become available.
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