Counting on their migration home: an examination of monitoring protocols and Saanich First Nations’ perspectives of Coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch), Chinook (O. tshawytscha) and Chum (O. keta) Pacific Salmon at Goldstream River and Saanich Inlet, Southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia




Paul, Roxanne

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Records of abundance of salmon that return to their natal spawning stream (escapements) are important indices that can assist with monitoring, conservation, and management of a salmon population over time. On their own, however these data reveal very little about the habitat, ecosystem and human communities that salmon encounter on their journey from freshwater to sea and back again. This research examines monitoring protocols for Goldstream River salmon stocks (coho, chinook and chum Pacific salmon). It includes and reaches beyond biostatistics from stream surveys to gauge First Nations’ artisanal fishing activities at Goldstream River and Saanich Inlet as well as their commercial chum fishing endeavours in Saanich Inlet on south Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Methods included summations of major themes from interviews on traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) shared by local Saanich First Nation fishers whose families have lived in the communities around Goldstream River and Saanich Inlet for more than 200 years. Analyses of Goldstream salmon escapements for the period 1932 to 2004 and native harvest statistics of chum caught from Saanich Inlet between 1982 and 2004 are integrated with results from analysis of TEK research undertaken for this project. Key recommendations arising from the results of this research are: stream habitat restoration in response to loss and degradation of salmon-bearing streams; modification of stream survey procedures to measure for morphological and physiological attributes including indicators of the health of Goldstream salmon; monitoring and eliminating sources of pollution to Saanich Inlet waters; implementing precautionary measures to ensure that overfishing of Goldstream salmon and shrimp in Saanich Inlet does not recur; and safeguarding naturally abundant Goldstream chum populations at the river. Under current management of the Goldstream chum fishery, the maximum carrying capacity (K) or target escapement of chum that the Goldstream River spawning grounds sustain is 15,000. Based on population assessments as well as physiography and ecosystem dynamics, I infer that Goldstream River’s K for its natural chum population is between ~16,000 and 18,000; ~1,500 for the mixed stocks of natural and hatchery enhanced coho; and ~50 for chinook (based on the river’s naturally occurring populations between 1932 and 1973) or ~385 enhanced chinook (based on the returning population from 1975 to 2002 since hatchery enhancement took place). A co-management relationship exists between Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) resource managers and the Saanich First Nations bands (Saanich Tribal Fisheries councilors). Improvements to communication, collaboration and information sharing between DFO resource managers, Goldstream hatchery operators and Saanich First Nations with regards to decisions made about Goldstream salmon stocks are, however, necessary. In this thesis, I propose a model with recommendations for compatible fisheries management goals and techniques including adaptive management and ecosystem-based management to address this problem.



Salmon, Conservation, Monitoring, Ecosystem Dynamics, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Ecological Restoration, Escapement, Co-Management, Adaptive Management, Ecosystem-Based Management