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Stock status update with application of management procedures for Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) in British Columbia: Status in 2023 and forecast in 2024

Regional Peer Review - Pacific Region

September 22, 2023
Virtual Meeting

Chairperson: Jaclyn Cleary


Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) in British Columbia are managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) based on five major and two minor stock assessment regions (SARs). The major SARs are Haida Gwaii (HG), Prince Rupert District (PRD), Central Coast (CC), Strait of Georgia (SoG), and West Coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI); the minor SARs are Haida Gwaii Area 2W (A2W) and WCVI Area 27 (A27).

Annual assessments of Pacific Herring abundance and forecasts began in the late 1980s for all major SARs. Starting in 2006, the assessment has used an integrated statistical catch-age (SCA) model fit to commercial catch data, biological data (i.e., proportion- and weight-at-age), and a fishery-independent abundance index of herring spawn derived from egg deposition surveys (i.e., the spawn index). The SCA model estimates spawning biomass and forecasts spawning biomass for the next year (Martell et al. 2012; DFO 2018; Cleary et al. 2019). Since 2015, Fisheries Management quota decisions have been based on a SCA model that assumes the spawn index is an absolute index of herring biomass (i.e., q=1). The SCA model will use this parameterization in 2023, following comparisons presented in DFO (2016; Table A1) and a bridging analysis (Cleary et al. 2019, Appendix D). The 2023 stock status update will include data updates for 2023 and will use the same SCA model reviewed in 2017 (Cleary et al. 2019) and implemented annually in years 2017-2022.

A management strategy evaluation (MSE) framework was first implemented in the herring advisory process in 2018 (Benson et al. 2023; DFO 2020). Management advice for Pacific Herring in SoG and WCVI for the 2018/19 fisheries was derived from a peer reviewed analysis which simulation-tested management procedures (MPs; DFO 2019a; DFO 2019b) as part of the MSE process. Subsequently, the first MSE cycle for the remaining major SARs was completed using methods outlined in DFO (2019a), and resulted in simulation-tested MPs for HG, PRD, and CC. Since 2018, updates for each SAR have occurred every 1-3 years, with the most recent MP updates presented in 2022 (DFO 2022; DFO 2023).

In June 2023, a Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) regional peer review process reviewed and accepted the DFO working paper titled “Application of a new modelling framework for the assessment of Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) major stocks and implementation in the management strategy evaluation process”. The review recommended a process for implementing the new assessment and operating model, updates to the management strategy evaluation process, and identification of exceptional circumstances to be developed in a phased approach in consultation with managers, First Nations and stakeholders. This work will occur through fall 2023 and winter 2024. For this reason, the new modelling framework will not be used in this Science Response report.

DFO Fisheries Management has requested that DFO Science provide Pacific Herring stock status updates for 2023 and harvest advice for 2024 derived from simulation-tested MPs for each major SAR. The assessment and advice arising from this CSAS Science Response (SR) process, using methods detailed in DFO (2019a), and available peer-reviewed data, will be used to support the development of the 2023/2024 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan.


Guided by the DFO Fishery Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach (DFO 2009) under the Sustainable Fisheries Framework, a CSAS SR will be developed to:

  1. Update stock and fishery status for 2023 for all major SARs.

  2. Estimate biomass, depletion, and recruitment for each major SAR.

  3. Assess stock status relative to established reference points for each major SAR.

  4. Summarize the spatial distribution of the spawn index for each major SAR (e.g., by Statistical Area).

  5. Provide harvest advice for 2023/2024 for each major SAR.

  6. Update stock status with available spawn index and biological data for each minor SAR.

Expected Publications

Expected Participation



Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

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