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Science Response 2021/001

Stock status update with application of management procedures for Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) in British Columbia: Status in 2020 and forecast for 2021


Pacific Herring abundance in British Columbia (BC) is assessed using a statistical catch-age (SCA) model. In 2017, the Pacific Herring stock assessment included updates to the model (integrated statistical catch-age model; Martell et al. 2012), and a bridging analysis to support these changes (Cleary et al. 2019). Also introduced in the 2017 assessment was the estimation of stock productivity and current stock status relative to the new limit reference point (LRP) of 0:3SB0 (Kronlund et al. 2017), where SB0 is estimated unfished spawning biomass. The structure of the 2017 model was not changed for the 2018, 2019, or 2020 stock assessments.

In 2016, DFO committed to renewing the current management framework to address a range of challenges facing Pacific Herring stocks and fisheries in BC. Renewal of the management framework includes engaging in a management strategy evaluation (MSE) process to evaluate the performance of candidate management procedures against a range of hypotheses about future stock and fishery dynamics. As part of the MSE process, a CSAS regional peer review occurred July 25 and 26, 2018, where performance of Pacific Herring management procedures (MPs) were assessed against conservation objectives for Strait of Georgia (SoG) and West Coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI) stock assessment regions (DFO 2019a). Steps included operating model (OM) development, fitting the OM to Pacific Herring stock and fishery monitoring data (OM conditioning), and closed-loop simulations of MP performance for alternative future natural mortality scenarios. In the spring of 2019, the MSE process was initiated for the northern stock regions: Haida Gwaii (HG), Prince Rupert District (PRD), and Central Coast (CC) (DFO 2020a). In the summer of 2020, updates were made to the MSE simulations for the WCVI and SoG management areas. These updates included conditioning the OM with more recent stock and fishery data and evaluating the performance of additional candidate MPs for these management areas.

Since initiation of the Pacific Herring MSE process, results have been included in the annual stock assessment as follows:

  1. The 2018 stock assessment included updated MP recommendations for SoG and WCVI stock assessment regions for 2019 (DFO 2019b).
  2. The 2019 stock assessment included MP recommendations for SoG and WCVI stock assessment regions as per 2018, and updated MP recommendations for HG, PRD, and CC (DFO 2020b).
  3. The 2020 stock assessment includes updated MP recommendations for SoG and WCVI stock assessment regions, and MP recommendations for HG, PRD, and CC as per 2019 (DFO 2020b).

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Pacific Fisheries Management Branch requested that DFO Pacific Science Branch assess the status of British Columbia (BC) Pacific Herring stocks in 2020 and recommend harvest advice for 2021 as simulation-tested MPs to inform the development of the 2020/2021 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan, where appropriate. Estimated stock trajectories, current status of stocks for 2020, management procedure options and harvest advice recommendations from those MPs for 2021 reflect methods of Cleary et al. (2019) and, where applicable, recommendations from the aforementioned 2018, 2019 and 2020 MSE analyses.

These recommendations are described in the Section ‘Application of MPs and harvest options for 2021.’

This Science Response results from the Science Response Process of September 30, 2020 on the Stock status update with application of management procedures for BC Pacific Herring: 2020 status and 2021 forecast.

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