Yukon River Chinook and Fall Chum Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan Summary as of 2016

This IFMP covers Chinook and fall chum salmon fisheries in the Canadian portion of the Yukon River watershed

Download a PDF version of this Management Plan Summary

The purpose of this Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) summary is to provide a brief overview of the information found in the full IFMP. This document also serves to communicate the basic information on the fishery and its management to DFO staff, legislated co-management boards and other stakeholders. This IFMP provides a common understanding of the basic "rules" for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource. The full IFMP is available on request.

This IFMP summary is not a legally binding instrument which can form the basis of a legal challenge. The IFMP can be modified at any time and does not fetter the Minister's discretionary powers set out in the Fisheries Act. The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify any provision of the IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

Where DFO is responsible for implementing obligations under land claims agreements, the IFMP will be implemented in a manner consistent with these obligations. In the event that an IFMP is inconsistent with obligations under land claims agreements, the provisions of the land claims agreements will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

salmon

For additional information on this IFMP Summary or to request an electronic version of the full IFMP, please contact the Regional Salmon Officer via email at:
Kelly.Binning@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
or at 604-666-3935.

General Overview/Introduction, including map

This 2016/2017 Southern B.C. Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) covers the period July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.

The IFMP provides a broad context to the management of the Pacific salmon fishery and the interrelationships of all fishing sectors involved in this fishery.

This IFMP covers Chinook and fall Chum fisheries in the Canadian portion of the Yukon River watershed (Figure 1). Fishing plans for First Nation, Recreational and Commercial fisheries are included as Appendix 5 of the IFMP.

Map: salmon fishing Areas, Yukon River, Y.T.

Stock Assessment, Science & Traditional Knowledge

Biology

Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

Chinook salmon spawn in streams and rivers along the west coast of North America. The majority of Chinook salmon spawning in the upper Yukon River occurs in August, with some degree of variability depending on the exact latitude of the spawning stream. In the Yukon River drainage basin, chinook fry emerge during the spring and early summer from the gravel in which they were spawned. Some fry leave the rivers of their birth, or “natal” streams, soon after emergence. They may be carried downstream into larger rivers by the spring freshet. At some point, many will then migrate into other streams to feed.

In large rivers, juvenile chinook are most easily found along margins and in the mixing zones below where streams and rivers join the Yukon River. In lakes, they have been found in nearshore waters and near the mouths of tributaries. Juveniles may be abundant in tributaries not used for spawning. Yukon River chinook salmon fry must grow rapidly and build up reserves of fat for their first winter in freshwater. Successful over-wintering of age-1+ juveniles has been documented only in streams and smaller rivers, although it is expected to also occur in larger rivers. Over-wintering has not yet been documented in lakes.

Fall Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)

Fall chum salmon spawn in rivers and streams along most of the west coast of North America, and along the Bering and Arctic coasts eastwards to, and including, the Mackenzie River drainage. The upper Yukon River stocks of this species may have the longest upstream fall chum spawning migration in the world with some stocks migrating over 2,700 kilometers in freshwater.

Adult fall chum salmon are characterized at the river mouth by later run timing, larger body size and a more silvery appearance than summer chum salmon. Spawning occurs primarily in the upper portions of the drainage. Compared to the summer run, fall chum runs are generally less abundant in overall number but do comprise nearly the entirety of the Canadian-origin stock.

Upper Yukon fall chum salmon return as spawning adults to the river mouth generally from mid-July through early September after spending up to five years in the ocean. Peak migration timing of the fall chum salmon entering the Canadian portion of the drainage usually occurs mid-September. Peak spawning usually occurs during October through early November. Juvenile upper Yukon fall chum salmon emerge from the gravel during the spring (April/May). After emergence, they appear to spend little time in the natal area. By mid-June, most have moved away from the spawning areas however little is known about the downstream migration of juveniles although it likely occurs close to the time of spring break-up.

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK)/Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)

Both Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge are cumulative knowledge gathered over generations and encompass regional, local and spiritual connections to ecosystems and all forms of plant and animal life. ATK is knowledge held by Aboriginal communities while TEK is local knowledge held by non-Aboriginal communities, including industry, academia, and public sectors. While qualitatively different both are cumulative knowledge gathered over generations and are regionally and locally specific. Both forms of knowledge can often be utilized to improve the management process. The growing awareness of the value of TEK/ATK is reflected in the increasing requirements for it to be included in environmental assessments, co-management arrangements, species at risk recovery plans, and all coastal management decision-making processes. Both are needed to inform and fill knowledge gaps related to the health of salmon stocks and to aid decision making related to development and resource use. Government and the scientific community acknowledge the need to access and consider ATK/TEK in meaningful and respectful ways. However, the challenge for resource managers is how to engage knowledge holders and how to ensure that the information can be accessed and considered in a mutually acceptable manner, by both knowledge holders, and the broader community of First Nations, stakeholders, managers, and policy makers involved in the fisheries.

Stock Assessment

Since 2009, a sonar program located at Eagle, Alaska (immediately downstream of the Canadian border) has been the main means of assessing both Chinook and fall chum salmon returning to the Yukon River (mainstem) in Canada and provides the border passage estimates necessary to manage mainstem Canadian fisheries. In addition to these border passage assessments there are several other assessment programs that provide information on spawning escapement in select tributaries.

Most catch and escapement monitoring programs also include a sampling component to determine the age, size and sex composition of the fish being monitored. Considerable effort is being spent on collecting tissue samples from major spawning populations throughout the Yukon drainage to complete the genetic baselines for genetic stock identification (GSI) and to increase the capability to monitor specific stocks and/or groups of stocks that lack escapement data. The fall chum salmon baseline requires considerable effort due to the many individual stocks (approximately 100) and remote location of many of these stocks.

Section 3 outlines the salmon ecosystem overview and interactions.

Economic, Social, Cultural Importance

Section 4 of the IFMP provides a socio-economic review of the salmon fishery in British Columbia. In future years, information on the social and cultural context of the various fisheries can be added, where available. This section addresses salmon in the context of the Aboriginal food, social, and ceremonial fishery, the Aboriginal communal commercial fishery, the recreational and commercial fishing sectors, the processing sector and the export market. DFO recognizes the unique values of each of the fisheries described here. The overview provided in this profile is intended to help build a common understanding of the socio-economic dimensions of each fishery rather than compare the fisheries. Where possible this summary highlights information specific to the Yukon River watershed.

Shared Stewardship Arrangements

As outlined in Section 9, in Pacific Region, DFO consults with and engages First Nations and other interests through a wide range of processes. DFO is advancing shared stewardship by promoting collaboration, participatory decision making and shared responsibility and accountability with resource users and others. Consultation and engagement with First Nations in central to DFO’s approach to fisheries management (including the development of management strategies described within the IFMP) and fulfilling the Department’s mandate.

The development of decision guidelines and specific management measures involves consultation with various First Nation government representatives, groups, individuals as well as coordinated efforts through the Salmon Coordinating Committee (SSC). In the Yukon, consultative processes have been established for some time, particularly through implementation of the First Nation Final Agreements. International consultation has been established through the Yukon River Salmon Agreement (YRSA) and the Yukon River Panel (YRP).

Governance Process

Departmental policy development related to the management of fisheries is guided by a range of considerations that include legislated mandates, judicial guidance and international and domestic commitments that promote biodiversity and a precautionary, ecosystem-based approach to the management of marine resources. Section 2 outlines the policies that were developed with considerable consultation from those with an interest in salmon management. While the policies themselves are not subject to annual changes, implementation details are continually refined as appropriate.

Please see the Salmon Consultation website for more information.

Access and Allocations

The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other any other valid reasons, modify access, allocations and sharing arrangements outlined in this IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

International

Details can be found at the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) website.

Allocation Guidelines

An Allocation Policy for Pacific Salmon can be found on-line here.

Allocation decisions are made in accordance with the recommendations from the SCC First Nation Final Agreements and the Allocation Policy for Pacific Salmon. The allocation policy is based upon a hierarchy of priorities. At low run sizes, subject to conservation concerns, the only fisheries that are provided an allocation are First Nations’ fisheries for FSC purposes. At higher run sizes, fishing opportunities for recreational, domestic and commercial fisheries will be considered as long as the projected run abundance is sufficient to meet escapement and First Nation requirements. The Basic Needs Allocations (BNA) for First Nations that harvest mainstem Yukon River salmon have yet to be resolved; however, the BNA of chum, Chinook, and coho salmon for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (VGFN) in the Porupine River has been settled and is contained within the VGFN Final Agreement (16.10.7.4). Notwithstanding this, a primary objective of this management plan in to address the requirements of the First Nation fishery for FSC purposes, which is constitutionally protected.

Section 7 of the IFMP outlines the detailed information on the long term objectives for the fisheries.

Management of the Fishery

Section 6 of the IFMP outlines the fishery management objectives for stocks of concerns and Section 8 outlines the decision guidelines and specific management measures for each fishery. Specific fishing plans are described in Appendix 3.

# Management Issue Objectives Management Measure
1 Conservation Restore and maintain healthy and diverse salmon populations and their habitat for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of Canada in perpetuity. Fisheries will be managed in accordance with the WSP. The policy goal listed above will be advanced by safeguarding the genetic diversity of wild salmon populations, maintaining habitat and ecosystem integrity, and managing fisheries for sustainable benefits.

The fisheries management approach defined within the Yukon River Salmon Agreement of the PST is abundance-based. This approach defines resource conservation as the paramount objective, with harvest fluctuating according to actual abundance rather than to pre-determine (guaranteed) levels. Abundance-based management (ABM) approaches have been developed for upper Yukon Chinook and fall chum salmon as well as Porcupine (Fishing Branch) River fall chum salmon. On a drainage-wide scale, the full implementation of reliable aBM regimes awaits the development of improved in-season run abundance, harvest monitoring and stock identification techniques primarily in Alaskan fisheries.

DFO establishes escapement goals for the Chinook and fall chum salmon returns prior to each fishing season after considering recommendations from the YRP and SSC.
2 First Nation Fisheries Manage fisheries in recognition of Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, constitutional priority of the First Nations fishery. Subject to conservation needs, first priority is afforded to First Nations for opportunities to harvest Yukon River salmon for FSC / subsistence purposes and any treaty obligations. Specific treaty obligations and considerations are described within individual First Nation Final Agreements
3 International Manage Canadian fisheries on the Yukon River to ensure that obligations within the YRSA are achieved. Canada has an overarching international obligation to manage its harvest within agreed harvest sharing arrangements as defined within the YRSA.
4 Domestic Allocation Manage fisheries in a manner that is consistent with An Allocation Policy for Pacific Salmon. The Allocation Policy for Pacific Salmon identifies the priority for allocation of salmon harvest and sets sharing arrangements for each of the three different gear groups. The allocation priorities are described below:
  • Priority 1: Attain escapement goals and maintain fish habitat that will result in optimum production of the stocks;
  • Priority 2: Provide for the basic needs of the First Nation fisheries for FSC purposes, and for the Basic Needs Allocations, where specified, in First Nation Final agreements; and
  • Priority 3: Provide salmon harvesting opportunities for recreational, commercial and domestic fishers. These fisheries and provided to harvest fish providing there are no restrictions required in the First Nation fishery.
5 Communication Provide timely information to fishers, communities and the public regarding the status of salmon runs and management decisions. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will compile and communicate weekly run status updates once Chinook salmon arrive at the international border. Included in the updates will be the latest stock assessment information based on the Eagle sonar assessment program, catch information and fishery management information (i.e. openings/closures) in both Canada and the U.S..
6 Enforcement Ensure compliance with Acts and Regulations associated with the management of Pacific Salmon. The Yukon Territory Fishery Regulations, the Fishery General Regulations and the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations, established pursuant to the Fisheries Act, are the main legislative guides utilized by DFO for the management of salmon in the Yukon. The Conservation and Protections (C&P) program of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Fisheries Act and associated regulations in relation to anadromous fish in both lakes and river systems, and to ensure compliance with habitat provisions in all water frequented by fish. C&P will continue to work cooperatively with First Nations and other Federal and Territorial agencies and departments (e.g. Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Yukon Territorial Government Environment, etc.) to deliver services.

Compliance Plan

Specific objectives for the salmon fishery will be to focus compliance management efforts on:

As outlined in Section 10, salmon fishery compliance continues to be a priority for C&P. In order to balance multiple program demands, C&P applies a risk-based integrated work planning process at the Regional and Area levels to establish annual operational priorities that address the highest risks to sustainability. This process ensures that resources are allocated appropriately. Resource utilization is dependent on availability of program funding.