Launched by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard on June 8, 2021, the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI) is Canada’s largest and most transformative investment in salmon. This $647 million investment aims to slow the devastating historic declines in key Pacific salmon stocks. The initiative has four key pillars:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) took immediate action under the 2021 Harvest Transformation Pillar by implementing closures in commercial salmon fisheries to support a more precautionary approach in areas with significant stocks of conservation concern. Following the 2021 closures, the Minister committed to consulting with commercial license holders on long-term salmon stock closures to be implemented in 2022. The 2022 Integrated Salmon Fisheries Management Plans identify commercial fisheries where long-term or additional commercial closures. mitigations are being implemented for populations of significant conservation concern. These are detailed below.
To mitigate the impact of long-term closures, DFO began consultations in 2022 on transitioning to a smaller commercial harvesting sector through a salmon license withdrawal program, as well as consulting with First Nations gatherers to switch to more selective fishing gear or, when available. , to alternate species access.
Salmon fishing closures 2022
From January to May 2022, the DFO engaged with Indigenous groups and commercial license holders on long-term closures. The Department also sought feedback on proposed longer-term closures during regular consultations on draft IFMPs.
There are more than 150 unique commercial fisheries in British Columbia (BC) and the Yukon that target the five Pacific salmon species in different areas. Many use gill net gear, while the rest use seines, trolls or other gear (eg beach seines, fish wheels).
Almost all of these fisheries encounter mixtures of salmon stocks, meaning their target species as well as bycatch or bycatch, which often include salmon stocks of conservation concern. Bycatch is the inadvertent harvesting of different species. The inadvertent harvest of stocks of concern of the same species (ie, Cultus Lake sockeye when summer sockeye are harvested) is known as incidental harvest. Both by-catch and by-catch are considered in the development of fishing plans to manage impacts on stocks of concern.
Although selective fishing measures are required to avoid stocks of concern in all commercial fisheries, additional commercial closures were considered when stocks of conservation concern could not be easily avoided. This also addresses the mortality of fish that have been released from fishing gear.
Thirteen new closures were implemented for the 2021 salmon fishing season (no openings were considered for this season). Following consultation with stakeholders over the winter and spring, 22 long-term closures have been identified from the 2022 season. These long-term closures are expected to remain in place until there is clear evidence that the populations are rebuilding (a minimum of one or two salmon generations or five to 10 years).
A full list of fisheries affected in 2022 was included in the salmon IFMPs. A fishing advisory with a link to plans can be found online at https://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/ifmp-eng.html
All other commercial fisheries remain closed unless conditions are met to allow the fishery to open. Specific catch guidelines used to identify commercial fishing opportunities are identified in salmon IFMPs. If these conditions are not met, the fisheries will remain closed.
Pacific Salmon Commercial License Retirement Program
The Pacific Salmon Commercial License Retirement Program is a voluntary program that allows commercial salmon license holders to retire their licenses at market value. The term “retirement” in relation to the Pacific Salmon Commercial License Retirement Program means that commercial salmon license eligibility will be permanently removed (or “retired”). By withdrawing commercial salmon licences, harvesters will no longer be able to engage in commercial trawling, gillnetting or seining. All commercial salmon license holders holding a full or reduced rate trawl, gillnet or seine salmon license (ie Category A and Category AI) are eligible to participate in this initiative
This program provides an opportunity for commercial salmon license holders to withdraw from the industry as declining Pacific salmon yields have made the economic viability of this industry a significant challenge. In addition to providing an opportunity for commercial salmon license holders to exit the industry, this program will transition fisheries to a smaller commercial harvest sector over time that aims to support sustainability and long-term financial viability of the collectors who remain in the area. fisheries
Indigenous Communal Pacific Salmon Trade Licensing Program
To mitigate socio-economic impacts on Indigenous commercial harvesters, the Department will soon launch the Pacific Salmon Indigenous Communal Commercial License Rollover Program (Rollover Program).
The program will provide an opportunity for First Nations and Indigenous groups to voluntarily exchange their communal commercial salmon licenses (Categories F and N) for funding based on equivalent value and other considerations to acquire alternative access to commercial fishing (ie non-salmon species).
Funding provided may also be used to support equipment, vessel upgrades/modifications and training related to capacity development to harvest newly acquired access.
Once participants have acquired new access, eligibility or exchanged communal commercial salmon licenses will be permanently withdrawn.
The rollover program will prioritize funding to Indigenous Community Commercial Salmon license holders who have been affected by the long-term closure of salmon fisheries in areas of concern in British Columbia and the Yukon. However, all eligible applications received will be evaluated and considered.
Abandoned boat mitigation and removal program
Those commercial license holders who withdraw licenses issued in their name and wish to dispose of their commercial fishing vessel and gear in an environmentally friendly manner can access the Abandoned Vessel Equipment Removal and Mitigation Program .
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