The Skeena River Estuary: A Snapshot of Current Status and Condition
December 8, 2015
The Pacific Salmon Foundation's Skeena Salmon Program is pleased to announce the release of The Skeena River Estuary – A Snapshot of Current Status and Condition.
The Skeena River estuary provides important nursery habitat for juvenile chinook, coho, pink, chum, and sockeye salmon from over fifty genetically and geographically distinct wild salmon populations. As juvenile salmon migrate out to sea, the estuary serves as a critical transition zone where salmon can grow rapidly as they adapt to their new saltwater environment.
Understanding how anticipated environmental and anthropogenic changes in the Skeena River estuary affect salmon populations is essential to the long-term conservation of wild salmon populations.
This report summarizes the results of our assessment, based on a suite of pressure and state indicators related to water quality, salmon habitat and food, and salmon populations. The methods and design for the assessment were guided by a Skeena Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), who provided valuable feedback, data and advice throughout the project's development. The results of this project provide a snapshot of our current understanding of the state of the Skeena River estuary, current pressures on estuary habitats, and critical information gaps and key monitoring needs required to evaluate changes in habitat status over time.
More information about the project, as well as links to the full technical report and data quality assessment supplemental, can be found here.
Skeena Salmon ‘Conservation Unit Snapshots’
April 9, 2014
The Pacific Salmon Foundation's Skeena Salmon Program is pleased to announce the results of a project to produce 'Conservation Unit Snapshots' for all salmon populations in the Skeena Watershed.
Conservation Unit (CU) Snapshots are short graphical reports that summarize key information about the state of a distinct salmon population (or CU) and its habitat. This project developed snapshots for every CU in the Skeena watershed. Snapshots include information on both biological status (e.g., abundance trends) and habitat status (e.g., development pressures).
Snapshots are intended to serve as reference documents to support discussions about the state of Skeena salmon and their habitat, as well as priorities and approaches for their conservation and management. More generally, the snapshots aim to make information on the state of Skeena salmon available to a broad audience.
The full results of this project, including snapshots for Chinook, sockeye, coho, pink and chum salmon, are available here.
Salmon Habitat Assessments for Chinook, coho, pink and river-type sockeye
March 26, 2014
The Pacific Salmon Foundation's Skeena Salmon Program is pleased to announce the release of new Habitat Report Cards for Chinook, coho, chum, pink, and river-type sockeye salmon in the Skeena Watershed.
The Skeena River is the second-largest watershed in British Columbia and one of the most productive rivers in the Pacific Northwest, providing extensive habitat for all five Pacific salmon species (Chinook, coho, pink, chum and sockeye). The Skeena has so far avoided much of the development pressure that has compromised fish habitats in many large watersheds throughout the world. However, there are exceptions in some locations which have led to concerns about the cumulative effect of habitat degradation on fish populations. There is also a growing awareness that new development proposals for the region could present threats to the continued health of Skeena salmon and their habitats.
Each Habitat Report Card presents an evaluation of the vulnerability of an individual Skeena salmon population ('Conservation Unit') to regional habitat threats and pressures. The report cards can be used to better understand the state of freshwater salmon habitat and how this may be affecting salmon populations. More specifically, they can be used to assist in setting priorities for local salmon habitat monitoring, or to inform regional land use policies and planning.
This project complements a previous analysis that created Habitat Report Cards for all lake-type sockeye salmon in the Skeena Watershed. The project's approach is adapted from a similar overview of habitat pressures recently completed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for southern BC Chinook, but modified to make the best use of data available for Skeena salmon. The project methods and design were also guided by a regional Technical Advisory Committee, who provided valuable feedback, data and advice throughout the project's development.
Status Assessment Data, Benchmark Analysis and In-River Run Reconstruction for Skeena Salmon
September 22, 2013
The Pacific Salmon Foundation's Skeena Salmon Program is pleased to announce the release of the results of three projects that improve the technical basis for assessing the status of wild salmon in the Skeena Watershed.
Canada's Wild Salmon Policy calls for the monitoring and assessment of all distinct populations of wild Pacific salmon, which are known as 'Conservation Units' or 'CUs'. For each CU, the number of spawning salmon is to be assessed against specific biological reference points, or 'benchmarks'. A higher and a lower benchmark are to be defined for each CU to delimit 'green', 'amber', and 'red' status zones. As numbers of spawning salmon decrease, a CU moves towards the lower status zones and the extent of management actions directed at conservation will increase.
Over the past few years, significant headway has been made towards defining benchmarks for CUs in the Fraser River, however, there has been much less progress towards setting benchmarks for other areas of British Columbia and the Yukon. It is in this context that the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) commissioned the three independent analyses that are presented here. Together, these analyses provide a foundation towards setting benchmarks and assessing the status of Skeena salmon.
Project 1: Core Data for Skeena Salmon CU Status Assessment (Extended to 1950's)
This project has assembled and analysed available data on annual salmon returns and catch in order to estimate spawner abundance and harvest rate for each CU, for each year from 1954 to 2010. This work extends the results of an earlier analysis commissioned by PSF which presented estimates for 1982 to 2010. The new datasets also incorporates the results of the In-River Sockeye Run Reconstruction project described below. Project results are available in a report on PSF's Skeena Salmon Program website and are accompanied by the datasets in Excel format.
Project 2: Status Benchmark Analysis for Skeena Salmon CUs
This project makes use of the core status assessment data described above in order to derive and explore some possible options for status benchmarks for each Skeena salmon CU. The project report includes an assessment of the status of Skeena CUs relative to some of the possible benchmarks that are presented. The results of this analysis are now available on our website, including a report and the computer code that was used to perform the analysis.
Project 3: Skeena Sockeye In-River Run Reconstruction
This project combines information on salmon fisheries within the Skeena River with data on the timing and size of sockeye returns, in order to reconstruct the in-river component of the yearly salmon run for each Skeena sockeye CU. The model can be used to better estimate the yearly abundance of spawning Skeena sockeye and total harvest rates, which in turn improves our ability to assess the status of Skeena sockeye CUs. In-river escapement and harvest estimates are presented for 1982 to 2009. Results from this project have been integrated into the data collection and benchmark analysis projects described above. Project methods, results and model code are available here.
PSF is happy to hear from people who may be interested in discussing or learning more about these projects and their methods and results. Please email email@example.com if you have questions or comments about the projects described above.
Skeena Salmon Productivity Analysis from SkeenaWild Conservation Trust
If you're interested in the projects described above, you might also like to check out a recent draft analysis conducted by Big River Analytics for SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, Application of Regime Change Detection Methods to Productivity Analysis of Skeena Salmon Conservation Units. This analysis demonstrates a potential method for detecting changes in the productivity of Skeena salmon CUs and discusses how the methodology might be applied in salmon management. Questions or comments about this work are welcomed by Greg Knox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skeena Sockeye Habitat Report Cards
September 3, 2013
The Pacific Salmon Foundation's Skeena Salmon Program is pleased to announce the release of the results of the Skeena Sockeye Habitat Report Cards Project. This project presents a broad-scale evaluation of the vulnerability of Skeena sockeye salmon to regional habitat threats and pressures.
The Skeena River is the second-largest watershed in British Columbia and one of the most productive rivers in the Pacific Northwest, providing extensive habitat for all five Pacific salmon species (sockeye, coho, Chinook, chum, and pink), as well as steelhead and at least 30 other freshwater fish species.
The Skeena has so far avoided much of the development pressure that has compromised fish habitats in many large watersheds throughout the world. However, there are exceptions in some locations (for example, from logging, recreational properties and water extraction) which has led to strong concerns about current habitat deterioration that may have harmed fish populations. There is also a growing awareness that new development proposals for the region could present threats to the continued health of Skeena salmon and their habitats.
The primary goal of this project was to undertake an evaluation of the extent and intensity of landscape-scale pressures affecting freshwater habitats used by Skeena sockeye. The project provides a summary of the regional pressures facing Skeena lake-type sockeye habitats and a description of relative habitat risk for individual Skeena sockeye 'Conservation Units', or populations. Full project results are available here, including:
- Habitat report cards showing habitat pressures for each individual Skeena sockeye Conservation Unit.
- A supplementary 'Skeena Estuary' report card. The Skeena Estuary provides important habitat for all Skeena salmon.
- An interactive online map for exploring the projects results.
As an extension of this project, we are now working to produce similar habitat report cards for the other Skeena salmon species (Chinook, pink, chum, coho and river-type sockeye).