Strengthening First Nations-led Salmon Escapement Monitoring on BC’s Central Coast
For the past five years, the PSF has been working with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, and Wuikinuxv First Nations and the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA) to compile and synthesize the best-available data for salmon populations and their freshwater habitats in the region, as shown on the Pacific Salmon Explorer. This work has highlighted that for the vast majority of salmon, we know very little about their current status and pressures on their freshwater habitats due in part to a lack of baseline monitoring data. Building off this work, we facilitated the development of a Salmon Monitoring & Stewardship Framework for British Columbia’s Central Coast. This framework highlights the need not only for enhanced monitoring of salmon populations, but monitoring that is directed and led by the local First Nations communities. Together we identified a suite of on-the-ground actions to meet shared salmon monitoring and stewardship goals, including actions that would support improve salmon escapement monitoring.
Estimates of spawner escapement (i.e. the number of adult salmon returning to spawn in individual rivers) are the foundation of annual stock assessment programs, which provide critical information for fisheries management and conservation. In recent years, efforts to estimate escapement have been impeded by the logistical challenges of monitoring hundreds of remote streams, and decades of declining investment in monitoring. While a number of “indicator” streams have been identified for more consistent monitoring through the Core Stock Assessment Program, these streams are not inclusive of all salmon streams that are important to the Central Coast Nations – for example streams that support food fisheries and tourism. As such, there is an outstanding need to identify streams that are important to Central Coast First Nations for local food fisheries, economic purposes, or provide good geographic coverage of salmon in their traditional territories (i.e. priority streams).
We worked with the Central Coast First Nations and CCIRA to support the implementation of the following activities:
- Identifying priority salmon streams for escapement monitoring;
- Developing an interactive tool for reporting on annual salmon escapement data to aid in planning for on-the-ground monitoring;
- Investing in key infrastructure and capacity to support Central Coast First Nations-led escapement monitoring.
This project focused on several key outcomes to support salmon escapement monitoring on the Central Coast:
- Development of a preliminary list of priority streams for escapement monitoring as identified by each of the Central Coast First Nations;
- Development of an online tool that summarizes historical escapement data to support strategic planning of escapement monitoring activities on BC’s Central Coast;
- Funding support for First Nations-ledescapement monitoring efforts.
The Pacific Salmon Foundation is partnering with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, and Wuikinuxv First Nations and the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance.