2020 Gulf of Alaska Expedition

Discussion in 'Conservation, Fishery Politics and Management.' started by wildmanyeah, Mar 26, 2020.

  1. wildmanyeah

    wildmanyeah Crew Member

    They caught a steelhead this year so that is very cool!! Also good news people better catches this year! so good news in these dark and pandemic times!

    he Pacific Legacy, with her commercial fishing crew of eight and 12 scientists from Canada, Russia and the United States, left Victoria harbour on the evening of March 11, 2020. As of March 20 they have completed 17 sets. There were no salmon in the two sets within the Canadian EEZ. In the next 15 sets we have approximately 440 salmon which exceeds the total salmon catch of 417 in our 2019 expedition. We are catching all species except for Chinook salmon but including one steelhead. It was a rough start with high winds, but the science crew recovered quickly and are in good spirits once they got their sea legs.

    Until more of the survey area has been sampled, it is early to interpret results or variation in catch patterns. However, a first impression is that the catch pattern and abundances are different from last year. It is possible that the low catches last year were an index of the exceptionally poor coast wide returns of most species. If the stock specific catches this year relate to the returns this fall, it may show that these surveys can provide an early warning of return abundances. Our catches so far also contain excellent samples of chum, pink, coho and sockeye that will allow participants to test their hypotheses about the mechanisms regulating salmon production.

    In addition to fishing, a CTD and plankton set has been conducted at each station and water samples for environmental DNA have been collected. The vessel and crew are scheduled to continue fishing the SW portion of the survey grid over the next few days. Following this they will be headed to Prince Rupert for fuel on March 24. Due to current conditions with the coronavirus, there will be no crew changes in Prince Rupert and the science team on board will continue for the duration of the expedition. Everyone is appreciative of the exceptional abilities of the crew of eight and the support of Brian Mose who is an owner of the vessel and can get anything done."

    2020 Gulf of Alaska Expedition


    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  2. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the update, WMY.

    I am in full approval of whatever we can do to better manage salmon stocks. I see the utility of better understanding juvie survival ocean conditions in order to better forecast sockeye escapements & manage fisheries. That's become readily apparent in the past 15-20 years or so where the different forecast models have become less accurate.


    It doesn't have to be done by a sporadic, high-profile, high-expense ($10 million), deep-Pacific cruise.

    Ocean juvie work can be done on different scales and resources. Beamish has gone as large as he can. It can instead be done much cheaper in a number of smaller areas/times by smaller and less expensive vessels.

    ALL salmon species (exclusion: landlocked stocks/species) have a small period where the juvies come out of the creeks and grow to a critical size before taking off for the SoG, GoA or elsewheres. THATS when to get them and to look @ things like CPUE/run sizes.

    That may even lead to being able to assess potential & realized impacts (e.g. sea lice, diseases, etc.) due to adjacent FFs among other early-entrant issues. hmmmm... what a win-win, eh?
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  3. littlechucky

    littlechucky Well-Known Member

    Was there ever a summary of the data sampled last year, including the DNA results of the catch?
  4. wildmanyeah

    wildmanyeah Crew Member

    Wasn't this done with the salish sea marine survival project?

    Also don't they already do this in the Fraser. They have that fish wheel that captures juveniles, part of their return estimate is based on the measured out migrating smolts.
    tincan likes this.
  5. wildmanyeah

    wildmanyeah Crew Member

  6. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Good questions, WMY.

    I think the PSF Salish Sea initiative was an extremely well thought-out & supported comprehensive look (IMHO) @ the many factors affecting juvie salmon with the Salish Sea, of course. Many novel approaches and results. It sure would be timely and advantageous to look at what the biggest bang for your buck is/was wrt understanding & predicting (and ultimately managing) fisheries were/are - and transplant those methodologies coast-wide.

    Unfortunately DFO stock assessment has been cut to shreds successively over the past 20 years or so - so there are but a few smolt fences working. And since those smolt fences (and lake studies) are in the fw - it doesn't give managers an understanding of ocean conditions & dynamics - esp. in time to predict the size of returning runs accurately and set fishing plans accordingly.

    You only get to see that after-the-fact forensically - after the run (~4 yrs later, with numerous caveats) comes in and is over.

    In addition, many places/watersheds do NOT have smolt fences.


    Juvenile trawl surveys are 1 option to assess what came out of the creeks - irrespective of any or missing smolt fences/lake studies) and survived and will most likely produce fish down the road. The trawl CPUE projected onto run size is normally accurate.

    The largest mortality is in the 1st few weeks of ocean entrance - not so much months later - which is when the Beamish expedition is catching them. Lots of science out there to support this assertion - incl. Sturdevant, Wertheimer, Brodeur, Welch et al.

    And dependent upon scale and intensity for all methodologies - can be financially efficient. Certainly much more efficient than the $10M price tag for the Beamish project.

    But.. that can lead to inconvenient truths, sometimes...
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  7. wildmanyeah

    wildmanyeah Crew Member

    pretty sure NOAA does juvenile trawl surveys annually. Fraser river they still do the juvival fish wheel every year and i've been told they have received more funding to ramp them up more.'

    Seems like that work is being done?


    "Here we synthesize 17 years of coded-wire-tag (CWT) recovery data from trawl surveys conducted in the Strait of Georgia to infer the early marine distribution and dispersal of juvenile Coho salmon and Chinook salmon. "
  8. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

    Agent, how are juvenile trawl samples off the mouth of the Fraser going to tell us how many chinook smolts came from, say, the Horsefly River? or sockeye smolts from, say, Takla Lake? DNA perhaps, then big time extrapolation?
    Just not sure how your plan would work.
  9. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Yep - some large trawl studies out there - esp. in Alaska. They add to the regional approach to understanding run size estimates. As I mentioned - Ocean juvie work can be done on different scales and resources, and I don't think it is a one-methodology approach.

    And IF the Fraser is getting more $ for stock assessment - I also welcome that.

    But generally speaking DFO stock assessment coast-wide has been decimated over the past 20 years or so.

    In addition, the size classes from ocean entrance (~65mm FL for coho, 35mm FL for chum, etc.) are MISSING from these "offshore" trawls with large, deep trawl nets - often some 2-3 months of early marine survival are unaccounted for since the fish have to grow large enough (~100+mm FL) and survive to reach these inshore-offshore trawls. The exact time and locations where ocean mortality is high.

    And as I mentioned - smaller operations also have smaller costs, as well.

    So, where smolt fences and lake studies do not exist - I see an opportunity for smaller, cost-effective inshore trawl studies to supplement the overall stock assessment estimates - and/or could even be used to confirm estimates of juvenile outmigration numbers and early marine survival/mortality if used in conjunction with a fish fence. Open-up the options and understanding & (hopefully) increases the accuracy of the run size predictions. Certainly, the trawl CPUE on return run size regression works - and is what the Beamish study is banking on.

    DNA - yes, Dave - like the panel net in the Skeena works. The problem with coded-wire-tagging is that you have to catch the fish - twice - it is expensive - and you need to mark a significant number of fish (like>10% for a population estimate, and >50% for a mark-selective fishery). As long as one has a decent DNA baseline - you can avoid these issues associated with coded-wire tagging.

    In addition, due to these caveats of finding and mass-marking fish for CWT tagging - generally CWT tagging is used for hatchery fish for a catch fishery on CWT "enhanced" fish verses "wild" stocks. There's quite a bit of literature out there about differences in hatchery-reared verses "wild" migration timing and success (mortality/survival) - and generally hatchery fish are "different" than "wild" - and "wild" are most often the stocks of concern.

    So using CWT-tagged "enhanced" stocks would not necessarily give you the information one needs on the wild stocks - even if CWT was a better option than DNA - which it is not.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2020
  10. wildmanyeah

    wildmanyeah Crew Member

  11. OldBlackDog

    OldBlackDog Well-Known Member

    Taken from article.

    Little is known about where in the Pacific Ocean the different species of salmon spend the bulk of their lives.

    “What we are finding is completely different than what we imagined,” Beamish said.

    It is amazing it took this long to do these studies.
    Says tons about DFO.

  12. tincan

    tincan Well-Known Member

    Ya, not that you can ever have too much info but lots was done on this thru PSF's Salish Sea Project. The whole point of the massive project was to understand the limiting factors in juvenile salmon productivity / abundance. They looked at survival of juvenile salmon from as soon as they hatch all the way thru to when they leave the JDF / SOG. The Gulf of Alaska expedition was born out of this project as Riddell and his team felt that the 1st winter at sea in the open ocean is the next logical step to get a better understanding of the whole picture of when and where salmon die. With new technology we've never had this sort of understanding of juvenile salmon in rivers and the SOG/JDF and this new offshore work will help further bring clarity to things.

    here's a link to some of the juvenile salmon studies that were done via the SSMSP.

  13. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    18 sets in a row without any salmon, now. So... how does that translate into better fisheries management for the price tag? Not saying we shouldn't look @ juvies - just wondering if money would be better spent on smaller boats and smaller scales...
  14. Whitebuck

    Whitebuck Well-Known Member

    This ^^
  15. wildmanyeah

    wildmanyeah Crew Member

    and ignore the open ocean or just do it with smaller boats? If they go 18 sets with no fish and historically there was fish there that could really inform science. What if there is zero chance some runs will recover because there feeding grounds have changed?

    If we have a million dollars to give rainforest to do some studies on the fraser river estuary why dont we have 1.2 million to spend on this?
  16. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    I thought the price tag was $10 MILLION - and you could run about 150 small scale boats in the ocean for that same price tag. Again - not saying we shouldn't look at juvies in the ocean - just wondering if this is the most effective strategy....
  17. wildmanyeah

    wildmanyeah Crew Member

    1.2 million is what i last seen, I think they were seaking 10 million to do 2 ships over five years.

    last year i believe was around 1.3 million.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  18. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    "The cost for that expedition is estimated at $10 million..."

    Whatever the exact costs turn out to be - definitely in the $ Millions...

    same questions remain...

    Does one HAVE TO go out into the middle of the Pacific to predict run sizes of juvie salmon, or...

    Can this be done closer inshore?

    Also - you can track the juvies all the way through all the size classes including the earliest marine residence using smaller boats and a smaller scale - where likely most of the mortality happens - the under 120mm FL sizes - the 35mm and up to that - which the large trawls miss - even the so-termed "inshore" ones by Trudel et al. - since they use the Ricker and a large net - they don't get the juvies until after a few weeks to a couple months - AFTER that mortality has happened.

    but... not as high profile that way

    so - the question is -are we looking at this through a science or political filter? Which is more important to the fish?

    Which translates into setting fishing plans by watershed better?
    a regional/local effect or a huge scale effect?
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  19. wildmanyeah

    wildmanyeah Crew Member

    I am not sure you can put 15 scientists and their equipment on a small boat and do the same thing. Im sure you could generate return estimates but probably could not do all the other stuff they are doing.
  20. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    no you wouldn't have 15 "scientists" on a small boat - there's be a lab component. "All the other stuff" and more HAS BEEN done more inshore, WMY - reference the link tincan provided above..

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