Northern Pacific salmon integrated fisheries management plan summary as of 2023
Full text of Integrated fisheries management plan: Northern Pacific salmon - Pacific Region, 2023 (PDF, 6.6 MB)
This IFMP covers fisheries in tidal and non-tidal waters from Cape Caution north to the BC/Alaska border, including the Skeena River watershed
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.
The electronic version of the entire IFMP can be found at the DFO online library
On this page
- General overview/introduction including map
- Stock assessment, science and traditional ecological knowledge
- Shared stewardship, co-management, consultation and advisory boards
- Economic, social, cultural importance
- Management issues
- Fishery management objectives for stocks of concern
- General decision guidelines, access and allocations
- Compliance plan
- Performance/evaluation criteria
- Northern BC fisheries
- Fishing plans
General overview/introduction, including map
This 2023/2024 Northern B.C. Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) covers the period June 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024.
This 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 is designed to describe the approach to fisheries in tidal and non-tidal waters from Cape Caution north to the BC/Alaska border, including the Skeena River watershed (see map below). Fishing plans for First Nation, Recreational and Commercial fisheries are included in Section 13 of the IFMP. The New for 2023/2024 section outlines the key changes and new conservation measures for the season.
Stock assessment, science & traditional ecological knowledge
Pacific salmon include five species belonging to the genus Oncorhynchus family Salmonidae: pink (O. gorbuscha), chum (O. keta), sockeye (O. nerka), coho (O. kisutch) and chinook (O. tshawytscha). The native range of Pacific Salmon includes the north Pacific Ocean, Bering Strait, south-western Beaufort Sea and surrounding fresh waters. They occur in an estimated 1300-1500 rivers and streams in BC and Yukon; notably, the Skeena River and Nass River in the north and the Fraser River in the south that accounts for about 75% of the total salmon numbers.
Pacific salmon complete their life cycle by returning to their natal stream to spawn, in many cases to the particular gravel bed where they were hatched. Homing of Pacific salmon to their natal stream is an important biological characteristic of salmon stocks. Each stock is genetically adapted to the environment in which it resides, and exhibits unique characteristics such as life history, migration route, migration timing, and productivity. Sockeye and chinook travel the farthest upstream to spawn, as far as 1,500 kilometers. Chum, coho and pink usually spawn closer to the sea.
The numbers of Pacific salmon returning to BC waters varies greatly from year to year and decade to decade, often with pronounced population cycles. For example, many sockeye salmon populations are very abundant every third or fourth year. This is seen most dramatically in the Fraser River, where the abundance of some populations in abundant years is many times larger than that of other years. Longer term cycles are also apparent but less regular and seem to be associated with changes in ocean conditions that affect survival during the feeding migration.
Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS)
In 2019, the Fisheries Act was amended to include provisions for the where the Minister may, or shall consider provided Indigenous knowledge in making decisions pertaining to fisheries, fish and fish habitat, as well as provisions for the additional protection of that knowledge when shared in confidence. The term Indigenous knowledge may not be universally used, and other terms such as Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, or Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge, which all convey similar concepts, may be used instead. Indigenous knowledge can inform and fill knowledge gaps related to the health of fish stocks, and aid decision making related to fisheries management. The Government of Canada and the scientific community acknowledge the need to access and incorporate IK in meaningful and respectful ways. Work is underway at a National level to develop processes for how DFO receives Indigenous knowledge and applies it to inform decision making. This will include consideration of how to engage knowledge holders, and how to ensure that the knowledge can be shared 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. This work will be an iterative process done in collaboration with First Nations, Indigenous groups and knowledge holders, to ensure protection of the knowledge provided.
Salmon stock assessment is primarily concerned with providing scientific information for conservation and management of salmon resources. Stock assessment describes the past and present status of salmon stocks and forecasts future status of stocks under different scenarios. Stock assessment programs contribute information to the fisheries management process, from the initial setting of objectives (and policies) to providing expert advice in the implementation of management plans. Stock assessment information also supports First Nation and Treaty obligations, integrated ocean management planning, development of marine protected areas, protection and recovery of species at risk, and international Treaty obligations and negotiations.
External partners and clients play an increasing role in delivery of the stock assessment activities. Some First Nations, recreational and commercial harvesters contribute directly through data collection and reporting. First Nations and community groups conduct field data collection projects. Universities and non-government organizations (NGOs) are active in the analytical and peer review elements. Stock assessment staff collaborates with other regional, national and international organizations and conduct numerous cooperative and/or joint programs.
Section 2 outlines the ecosystem overview and interactions.
Shared stewardship, co-management, consultation and advisory boards
As outlined in Section 3, in Pacific Region, DFO consults with and engages First Nations and other interests through a wide range of processes. For salmon, the focal point for DFO’s engagement with First Nations, the harvest sectors and environmental interests is around the development and implementation of the annual IFMP. At a broad, Province-wide level, the Integrated Harvest Planning Committee (IHPC) brings together First Nations, commercial and recreational harvesters, and environmental interests to review and provide input on the draft IFMP, as well as coordinate fishing plans and (where possible) resolve potential issues between the sectors.
The Department undertakes consultations with First Nations organizations and groups through a variety of processes which are being developed in order to facilitate dialogue between First Nations and DFO. Engagement between DFO and First Nations also takes place through a number of bilateral and “integrated” (multi-interest) advisory processes, management boards, technical groups and roundtable forums.
In addition to integrated dialogue through the IHPC, the Department also works directly with the commercial and recreational sectors, largely through the Commercial Salmon Advisory Board (CSAB) and Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB), respectively. The Department also officially consults with the Marine Conservation Caucus, an umbrella group representing eight core environmental groups.
Economic, social and cultural importance
Section 4 of the IFMP provides a socio-economic overview 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 summary 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 North Coast.
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 1.6 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:
Fishery management objectives for stocks of concern
Section 6 of the IFMP outlines the fishery management objectives for stocks of concerns. The decision guidelines, specific management measures for each fishery and specific fishing plans are described in Section 13.
General decision guidelines, 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.
Details can be found at the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) website.
An Allocation Policy for Pacific Salmon can be found on-line
Allocation decisions are made in accordance with the Allocation Policy for Pacific Salmon.
Figure 1 below describes a generalized framework by which fishing opportunities are allocated to different fishing sectors at different abundance levels.
Figure 1: Allocation guidelines
|Low Abundance||High Abundance|
|First Nations FSC||Non-retention / closed||By-catch retention||Directed||Directed||Directed|
|Recreational||Non-retention / closed||Non-retention||By-catch retention||Directed||Directed|
|Commercial||Non-retention / closed||Non-retention||By-catch retention||By-catch retention||Directed|
Note: This table describes conceptually how First Nations, recreational and commercial fisheries might be undertaken across a range of returns. It does not imply that specific management actions for all stocks exactly follow these guidelines, but rather is an attempt to depict the broad approach.
The allocation guidelines above refer to directed fisheries on a species. The application of the Allocation Policy for Pacific Salmon on non-target stocks is case specific. The inadvertent harvest of different species of concern is referred to as by-catch. The inadvertent harvest of stocks of concern within the same species (i.e. Cultus Lake sockeye when harvesting Summer Run sockeye) is referred to as incidental harvest. Both by-catch and incidental harvest are factored into the calculation of exploitation rates on various stocks, and therefore, fishing plans are designed to be consistent with existing policies and to keep exploitation rates on stocks of concern within the limits described in the fishery management objectives.
All harvest groups have recommended that the Department consult on by-catch/incidental harvest allocations. However, the Department does not generally allocate by-catch or portions of the acceptable exploitation rate on stocks of concern. The Department considers a number of fishing plan options and attempts to address a range of objectives including minimizing by-catch and incidental catch.
Section 7 of the IFMP outlines the detailed information on the First Nation, Recreational and Commercial fisheries.
Specific objectives for the salmon fishery will be to focus compliance management efforts on:
- Monitoring in-river and in marine approach waters by intelligence to target priority fisheries and compliance issues.
- Work with stakeholders to improve regulatory compliance.
As outlined in Section 8, salmon fishery compliance continues to be a priority for C&P. There are, however, other competing priorities such as habitat management, the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program, and the protection of Species at Risk.
In order to balance multiple program demands, C&P applies a risk-based integrated work planning process at the Regional and Area levels. This process ensures that resources are allocated appropriately. Resource utilization is dependent on availability of program funding.
Section 9 is intended to outline measurable indicators to determine whether or not those management issues outlined in IFMP are being addressed. These indicators may include those specifically developed for the IFMP, as well as, from existing evaluation processes.
Northern BC fisheries
Information specific to First Nations, recreational, and commercial fisheries can be found in Sections 10-12, including catch monitoring, licencing, sampling, test fisheries, reporting, and more.
Section 13 is updated annually to outline the species specific fishing plan for the season. Annual updates and in-season amendments to Section 13 will be made as required and notifications will be sent through fishery notices.
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