For millennia, First Nations on the Central Coast of British Columbia have been dependent on the health of local salmon ecosystems, but in recent years, many salmon populations in the region have experienced alarming declines. At the same time, recent efforts to assess the status of salmon and their habitats in the region have highlighted major spatial and temporal gaps in information on salmon escapement, catch, and productivity, due in part to a reduction of resources for salmon monitoring over the past decade. A lack of adequate baseline information, and processes for sharing this information, limits the ability of fisheries managers to make evidence-based decisions for salmon on the Central Coast.
To address this need, the Pacific Salmon Foundation facilitated a process with the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance, the Kitasoo/ Xai’xais, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, and Wuikinuxv First Nations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and regional Charter Patrolmen to document a shared vision for monitoring and stewarding salmon on the Central Coast.
From 2020 to 2021, we took a structured decision-making approach to identify a suite of on-the-ground actions to meet shared salmon monitoring and stewardship goals.
The four goals that emerged are as follows, with the first goal underpinning the success of the others:
- Strengthen community participation in stewardship and collaborative salmon management
- Strengthen our ability to detect and respond to changes in the status of salmon
- Strengthen catch monitoring for salmon
- Strengthen our understanding of current and future climate pressures on local salmon populations
More than 200 on-the-ground actions were identified by our collaborators to help meet these goals. These actions include making strategic investments in local First Nations capacity for monitoring, engaging youth in salmon monitoring through internship programs, utilizing new technologies like artificial intelligence to support monitoring in remote areas, and implementing mass-marking programs for hatchery-reared salmon.
The Salmon Monitoring & Stewardship Framework is intended to strengthen the scientific foundations for sustainable fisheries management, identify shared priorities and capacity needs across the four Central Coast Nations, and build collaboration towards management and recovery of wild Pacific salmon across the region. Additionally, this Framework will help to support and inform emerging collaborative monitoring and management efforts for salmon in the region under the Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement.
For further details on our approach and a full list of all the actions that were developed, see the report linked below.