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Methodologies and guidelines for developing Limit Reference Points for Pacific Salmon in British Columbia

Regional Peer Review – Pacific Region

March 2-4, 2022
Virtual Meeting

Chairperson: Steven Schut


Canada’s revised Fisheries Act (2019) includes Fish Stocks provisions that introduce legal requirements to promote sustainability, avoid Limit Reference Points (LRPs) and implement rebuilding plans for depleted stocks. Compliance with the Fish Stocks provisions is being interpreted nationally through the application of DFO’s Sustainable Fisheries Framework (SFF), and in particular the Fishery Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach (PA Framework, DFO 2009).  LRPs that represent the stock level below which serious harm is occurring will be required for major fish stocks prescribed in the proposed regulation. LRPs define the trigger below which rebuilding plans will be required.

For Pacific salmon in Canadian waters (Pacific region) there are over 60 stock management units (SMUs), where the proposed functional definition of an SMU is a group of one or more Wild Salmon Policy Conservation Units (CUs) that are managed together with the objective of achieving a joint status and would be considered a major fish stocks under the Fish Stocks Provisions of the Fisheries Act.   Guidance is required on how to develop LRPs for Pacific Salmon SMUs that are aligned with both (i) the intent of the Wild Salmon Policy to restore and maintain biodiversity and ecosystem integrity at the level of the Conservation Unit, CU (DFO 2005) and (ii) previously developed methods for CU assessments under the WSP (Holt et al.2009)Footnote 1

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science has requested that Science Branch provide analytical methods for developing Limit Reference Points for Pacific salmon SMUs, including guidelines for when they are or are not appropriate given data availability and characteristics of the population. A full evaluation of LRPs is beyond the scope of this review process.

The assessment and advice arising from this Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) Regional Peer Review (RPR) will be used to inform the development of LRPs for stock management units of Pacific salmon across Pacific region to meet national obligations under the Fish Stocks provisions of the revised Fisheries Act.


The following two working papers will be reviewed and provide the basis for discussion and advice based on the objectives outlined below. The working papers will complement each other, with the guidelines provided in the first paper being supported by the detailed case study applications provided in the second paper.

Working Paper #1: Holt, C., Holt, K., Warkentin L., and Wor, C. 2022. Guidelines for Defining Limit Reference Points for Pacific Salmon Stock Management Units. CSAP Working Paper 2019SCI04a.

Working Paper #2: Holt, K., Holt C., Warkentin L., and Wor, C. 2022. Case Study Applications of Limit Reference Point Estimation Methods to Pacific Salmon Stock Management Units. CSAP Working Paper 2019SCI04b.

The specific objectives are:

  1. Working Paper #1:
    1. Develop candidate methods for identifying SMU-level LRPs for Pacific salmon that are consistent with the Wild Salmon Policy objective of conserving biodiversity by maintaining CUs above lower biological benchmarks.  These candidate methods will include LRPs based on the status of component CUs and aggregate abundance over multiple CUs, where CU assessments can be developed using a multidimensional or single-metric approach, as appropriate.
    2. Document candidate methods for developing LRPs at the SMU-level, including data requirements and assumptions.
    3. Document key uncertainties that affect LRP estimates for each method considered, including uncertainties arising from inadequate CU-level data.
    4. Provide guidance and recommendations on the application of candidate methods over a range of data types and availability.
  2. Working Paper #2:
    1. Apply proposed methods to Pacific Salmon case studies over a range of data types and availabilities.
    2. For case studies, evaluate methods for developing LRPs using a combination of sensitivity analyses to key parameters and assumptions, and where possible retrospective analyses.

Expected Publications

Expected Participation



Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

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