Last updated on 2 October 2016

SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha

SPECIES NAME(s)

Pink salmon

COMMON NAMES

pink salmon, humpy, humpback salmon


ANALYSIS

Strengths

1. At the Alaska-wide scale, escapement goals, escapement monitoring, and harvest controls have helped produce robust returns since the early 1980s. 2. Southeast Alaska pink salmon catches have averaged over 90 million fish, nearly twice the level achieved at an earlier peak in the 1940s. 3. There is limited hatchery production of pink salmon in Southeast Alaska, the most important region for pink salmon production along with Prince William Sound.

Weaknesses

1. Wild stock yields in Prince William Sound have exhibited meaningful declines over the past 15+ years, and may be impacted by interactions between wild and hatchery fish. 2. There have been compliance issues with the local hatchery operator in Prince William Sound (Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation – PWSAC), and public information indicating how and whether these issues are resolved is lacking. 3. Hatchery releases from the Pillar Creek and Kitoi Bay hatcheries in Kodiak (Westward Alaska) are not marked, making it difficult to assess possible impacts upon wild stocks.

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

7 to 10

Managers Compliance:

6.5 to 10

Fishers Compliance:

8 to ≥ 8

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

6 to ≥ 8

Future Health:

< 6 to 10


FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

  • Alaska salmon:

    MSC Recertified

  • Annette Islands Reserve salmon:

    MSC Recertified

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

DISTRICT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Annette Islands Reserve Alaska United States Drift gillnets
Purse seines
Trolling lines
Cook Inlet Alaska United States Drift gillnets
Purse seines
Set gillnets (anchored)
Norton Sound Alaska United States Gillnets and entangling nets
Prince William Sound Alaska United States Drift gillnets
Purse seines
Southeast Alaska Alaska United States Drift gillnets
Purse seines
Set gillnets (anchored)
Westward Alaska Alaska United States Gillnets and entangling nets
Purse seines

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 11 August 2013

Strengths

1. At the Alaska-wide scale, escapement goals, escapement monitoring, and harvest controls have helped produce robust returns since the early 1980s. 2. Southeast Alaska pink salmon catches have averaged over 90 million fish, nearly twice the level achieved at an earlier peak in the 1940s. 3. There is limited hatchery production of pink salmon in Southeast Alaska, the most important region for pink salmon production along with Prince William Sound.

Weaknesses

1. Wild stock yields in Prince William Sound have exhibited meaningful declines over the past 15+ years, and may be impacted by interactions between wild and hatchery fish. 2. There have been compliance issues with the local hatchery operator in Prince William Sound (Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation – PWSAC), and public information indicating how and whether these issues are resolved is lacking. 3. Hatchery releases from the Pillar Creek and Kitoi Bay hatcheries in Kodiak (Westward Alaska) are not marked, making it difficult to assess possible impacts upon wild stocks.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 28 June 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators

1. Work actively to address and close out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery in the agreed timeframe.
2. Report achievements publicly to share progress with buyers.

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain

1. Monitor the progress in closing out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery and if agreed timelines are met.
2. Express your support to help meet conditions that may be at a government/regulatory level (where applicable).

Last updated on 2 December 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators

1. Work actively to address and close out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery in the agreed timeframe.
2. Report achievements publicly to share progress with buyer

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain

1. Monitor the progress in closing out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery and if agreed timelines are met.
2. Express your support to help meet conditions that may be at a government/regulatory level (where applicable).

Last updated on 2 December 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators

1. Work actively to address and close out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery in the agreed timeframe.
2. Report achievements publicly to share progress with buyer

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain

1. Monitor the progress in closing out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery and if agreed timelines are met.
2. Express your support to help meet conditions that may be at a government/regulatory level (where applicable).

Last updated on 2 December 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators

1.  Support the ongoing MSC Full Assessment for Prince William Sound salmon.

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain

1. Monitor progress in the ongoing MSC Full Assessment for Prince William Sound salmon.

Last updated on 2 December 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators

1. Work actively to address and close out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery in the agreed timeframe.
2. Report achievements publicly to share progress with buyer

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain

1. Monitor the progress in closing out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery and if agreed timelines are met.
2. Express your support to help meet conditions that may be at a government/regulatory level (where applicable).

Last updated on 2 December 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators

1. Work actively to address and close out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery in the agreed timeframe.
2. Report achievements publicly to share progress with buyer

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain

1. Monitor the progress in closing out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery and if agreed timelines are met.
2. Express your support to help meet conditions that may be at a government/regulatory level (where applicable).

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 20 October 2011

Harvest Monitoring

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) achieves accurate harvest monitoring through its fish-ticket/e-landing reporting system. However, stock-specific harvest estimates are often not possible in areas where salmon migrate as mixed stocks through a multi-district corridor.

Escapement Monitoring

In the main pink salmon production regions of Alaska, Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska, escapement is primarily monitored through the use of aerial surveys. Aerial surveys cover approximately 20% of the Prince William Sound pink salmon streams, which represent 75–85% of total regional escapement. Meanwhile, some 718 of the 2,500 pink salmon spawning streams in Southeast Alaska are monitored.

The escapement monitoring method and estimates of wild harvest, in principle, allow for estimates of wild run size and productivity for particular management districts.

Last updated on 19 October 2011

Harvest is actively and accurately monitored through the fish ticket system. The reporting of subsistence harvests is likely less accurate than for other components of the fishery (SCS 2007).

Escapements for all Norton Sound pinks salmon stocks with escapement goals as well as some monitored stocks without escapement goals are measured directly via weir or tower counts. A number of other stocks are monitored using aerial surveys (including the Tubutulik and Shaktoolik River stocks). Escapement measurements for some streams are inconsistent; and quality of escapement data from aerial surveys is variable (Menard et al 2012).

Last updated on 15 September 2014

Harvest Monitoring

Harvest monitoring is considered fairly accurate in Alaska due to the use of the fish ticket/eLanding system, which requires that a form documenting the harvest volume and location be filled out upon landing or first sale of the fish. The forms must be submitted to the regional ADF&G office within seven days of their completion, allowing for reliable in-season monitoring of harvest. Otolith sampling allows for distinction of hatchery and wild portions of common property harvest, but an adequate genetic baseline does not exist to distinguish between wild stocks of the eight Prince William Sound districts. It is unlikely that significant genetic differentiation exists among the pink salmon stocks of the Prince William Sound districts due to the natural large straying range of pink salmon.

Escapement Monitoring

Detailed descriptions of the escapement measurement process can be found in the published scientific literature (see descriptions in Exxon Valdez oil spill literature, NPAFC publications, and elsewhere; e.g. Bue et al. (1998)). Escapement indices can be found in several sources (e.g., Fair et al. 2011). ADF&G is somewhat inconsistent or at least confusing with their descriptions of what these measurements represent. Fair et al. (2011) describe this pink salmon escapement series as an “index,” which is a term ADF&G usually uses to mean that the numbers have meaning in rank order. In other words, an escapement index is not in the same units as the catch and cannot be added to the catch to get a meaningful measure of total run size. However, elsewhere ADF&G has published estimates of total run size for Prince William Sound wild stocks, which implies that they have at least two escapement time series.

Escapement monitoring is carried out by aerial survey on approximately 20% of the Prince William Sound pink salmon streams, which represent 75–85% of total regional escapement. The escapement monitoring method and estimates of wild harvest, in principle, allow for estimates of wild run size and productivity for the Prince William Sound aggregate region.

Clark et al. (2006) raised questions regarding the adequacy of the regional salmon management and stock assessment budget. While the regional budget allocation for these items increased by $419,000 from 1982 to 2005, actual buying power was reduced by $155,000 due to inflation. Sources close to the fishery have indicated that PWSAC is reducing its funding for otolith recovery and analysis. At the same time that funding shortages are making themselves apparent, management of the fishery is growing more complicated due to increasing hatchery production.

 

Last updated on 20 October 2011

Harvest Monitoring

Harvest is actively monitored through the fish ticket system. There is no stock identification of pink salmon; however, ADF&G assumes that catch in a sub-region originates from the aggregate index streams within the sub-Region, and this assumption is supported by multiple years of marine tagging data (SCS 2007).

Escapement Monitoring

Annual escapement of wild salmon to spawning streams is a key benchmark used by ADF&G for assessment of relative abundance over time, in-season management of harvests and development of escapement goals. Via aerial surveys, management monitors 718 of the 2,500 pink salmon spawning streams in Southeast Alaska as “index” streams (Zadina et al. 2004; Piston and Heinl 2011). Biological escapement goals, which by definition reflect an escapement level expected to result in the maximum sustained yield of the resource (ADF&G 2000), are in place for the three Southeast Alaska subregions: Southern Southeast, Northern Southeast Inside, and Northern Southeast Outside. Escapement goals within sub-regions are further divided into “management targets”, with benchmarks allocated among 15 management districts and 46 stock groups (Zadina et al. 2004). This additional level of escapement monitoring provide a means for assessing not only escapement abundance but spatial distribution of pink salmon stocks across Southeast Alaska. For Yakutat area pink salmon, there is a single lower bound sustainable escapement goal (Munro and Volk 2013). Sustainable escapement goals are thresholds expected to result in sustainable yields over a 5 to 10 year period (ADF&G 2000). In ADF&G’s 2011 stock assessment report for Southeast Alaska pink salmon (Piston and Heinl 2011), it was noted that if a trend of increasing interest in harvesting pink salmon continued, improved pink salmon stock assessment in the Yakutat area would become a higher priority.

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 20 October 2011

ADF&G has a formal process for internal peer review of research, including district escapement goal reviews that occur once every three years. External review has been less intensive, but two MSC assessments (2000, 2007) have reviewed research processes and findings. Research results are provided to stakeholders. Under Alaska’s Sustainable Salmon Policy, ADF&G “has expended considerable effort since 2000 to update salmon stock status information and review and update the scientific basis of salmon escapement goals—producing an extensive series of published reports in the process. There are currently 287 escapement goals established for salmon stocks or stock aggregates throughout the state.

Scientifically defensible escapement targets for appropriately defined stock units generally prevail for pink salmon stocks in Alaska.However, there are several relevant, open Marine Stewardship Council conditions from the 2012 certificate pertaining to issues regarding straying hatchery fish into wild stock escapements in Prince William Sound (25 and 26), and concerns over the contribution of non-local stocks to the Peninsula/ Aleutian Island region fisheries (58) (Moody Marine 2011).Publication of results from Western Alaska Salmon Stock Identification Project (WASSIP), which has occurred in 2012 and 2013, is expected to close the latter condition during MSC re-certification of Alaska salmon in 2013. Some progress has been made on components of conditions 25 and 26 as well; however, their full intent is not likely to be met imminently. Recently published results of ADF&G research on the magnitude and distribution of hatchery straying in PWS (Brenner et al. 2012) further reinforce the need to quantify hatchery straying rates to the extent that they can be accounted for in estimates of wild spawning abundance and management goals, and the importance of evaluating potential adverse effects to wild stock fitness as a result of intermingling hatchery and wild stocks in spawning escapements.

Reference Points

Last updated on 20 Oct 2011

Performance against escapement goals varies by region and district fishery. The majority of significantly exploited pink salmon stock groupings in Alaska are actively managed and monitored for escapement, and extended periods of below target escapements have generally been avoided. In Prince William Sound, however, district-specific escapement objectives have been repeatedly missed in the past 15 years, especially in the even years. At the other end of the spectrum, escapement goals for pink salmon in Southeast Alaska have not been missed more than twice for any stock in the last 15 years.

Last updated on 19 October 2011

Pink salmon in the Norton Sound area are currently managed to achieve five escapement goals (Munro and Volk 2012).All of these are lower bound “Sustainable Escapement Goals” as defined by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and all reflect measures of total fish passage by counting weir or tower. Seven additional stocks are monitored via estimates of either partial or total escapement. Of the Norton Sound systems monitored for total escapement, the North River (District 6) has typically supported the highest abundance of pink salmon over the past decade, and has the highest escapement goal set at 25,000 fish.Most stocks feature an odd-even year abundance pattern, though only the Nome River has separate odd and even-year goals (Menard et al. 2012).

Norton Sound Management Area pink salmon escapement goals have never been lowered in association with missed management objectives.However, there are some stocks that are lacking escapement goals.While many of these stocks have had little or no harvest in recent decades, lack of an escapement goal is more of a concern for the Tubutulik and Shaktoolik River stocks, where there is some directed pink salmon harvest, and harvests occur more consistently (Table 1).

Table 1: FishSource Scoring for Criterion #2: Norton Sound Pink Salmon (ADF&G 2004; Volk et al 2009; Menard et al 2012; ADF&G 2012a; Munro and Volk 2012).

Reference Points

Last updated on 19 Oct 2011

A score of “9” was awarded on Sub-Criterion 4.1 based on the 25th percentile per- stock performances against the scoring definitions for escapement levels (Table 2).Over a 15-year period, escapement goals were never missed for a single stock more than twice. Further, while there are stocks that do not have escapement goals, available data does not indicate a trend of declining escapements for those stocks.

Table 2: FishSource Scoring for Criterion #4.1: Norton Sound Pink Salmon (ADF&G 1982-2011 Various Authors; Geiger and Zhang 2002; ADF&G 2004; Volk et al 2009;ADF&G 2012a; Menard et al. 2012; Munro and Volk 2012).

Though Norton Sound pink salmon stocks with escapement goals have achieved their benchmarks in the vast majority of years since 1999, these goals are quite low relative to the larger abundances typically observed during even return years (the North River stock excepted)(Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1: Kwiniuk River (Norton Sound Management Area) pink salmon escapement estimates and escapement goal lower bounds: 1982-2012 (ADF&G 2004; Volk et al 2009; ADF&G 2012a; Menard et al. 2012; Munro and Volk 2012). This stock has failed to achieve its escapement goal only twice since its establishment in 1999. However, there is only a single goal for even and odd year brood lines.


Figure 2: North River (Norton Sound Management Area) pink salmon escapement estimates vs. the escapement goal lower bound, 1996-2012 (ADF&G 2004; Volk et al 2009; ADF&G 2012a; Menard et al 2012; Munro and Volk 2012). This stock has never failed to achieve its escapement goal. Unlike other pink salmon stocks in the Norton Sound Management Area, the North River stocks do not display an even-odd year abundance pattern.

Last updated on 12 November 2012

Management Objectives

In some cases, ADF&G managers will establish two types of target reference points: biological escapement goals and sustainable escapement goals. Biological escapement goals are generally based on a more extensive and complex analysis of stock performance in light of escapement observations and are considered to represent the escapement with the greatest potential for maximum sustainable yield. In contrast, sustainable escapement goals represent an escapement level that is known to provide for sustained yield over a 5- to 10-year period.

Regional escapement goal review occurs once every three years and ADF&G recommendations for stock-specific goals of either type go before the Board of Fisheries afterward for consideration and approval. The Board of Fisheries may substitute its own optimum escapement goal for either a sustainable escapement goals or a biological escapement goal if the Board finds a need to do so to meet competing objectives.

Some district-specific escapement goals for the region date back to 1960. Separate even- and odd-year broodline biological escapement goals were established in 1990 (Fried 1994). In the 2002 escapement goal review, a single escapement goal was established for the Prince William Sound region, the goal was downgraded to sustainable escapement goal status, and the district and brood year-specific biological escapement goals became “management targets.” Most of the targets were also lowered from the original ranges established by Fried (the Montague district goal was not lowered in 2002, and changes to the Northern district goal were minor) Bue et al. 2002). In 2011, the district and brood year-specific goals were reestablished (as sustainable escapement goals), and a statistical method known as the “percentile approach” was applied in an analysis of historical escapement data that resulted in lower bounds for the sustainable escapement goals in comparison with the management targets of 2002–2011 (Fair et al. 2011). These lower goals went into effect in 2012 (Table 1).

Related FishSource scoring of Criterion #2 is reflected in Table 1 below. While changes to escapement goals may reflect well-intentioned efforts to better reflect the Sound’s habitat capacity, repeated lowering of escapement goals should bring on greater scrutiny and warrant a level of vigilance to ensure that management is not in an unsustainable cycle.

Table 1: Per-stock and cumulative FishSource scoring of the Prince William Sound pink salmon fishery for Criterion 2 (Management Objectives).Data are from ADF&G’s periodic escapement goal review reports for Prince William Sound and Alaska (Fried 1994; Bue et al. 2002; Fair et al. 2011; and Munro and Volk 2014).

Reference Points

Last updated on 12 Nov 2012

The Prince William Sound management area is divided into eight districts with management targets for wild pink salmon: Coghill, Eastern, Eshamy, Montague, Northern, Northwestern, Southeastern and Southwestern. There are distinct odd and even-year broodlines of pink salmon in all districts.

Escapement graphs for the sixteen district-brood year combinations (Figures 3 and 4) show that management targets have been repeatedly missed in some districts, particularly among the even-year brood lines (see FishSource per-stock scores indicated in Table 2).


Figure 3: Pink salmon escapement indices (black) and escapement goal lower bounds (gray) for the odd-year broodlines of the eight districts of Prince William Sound. Index (y-axis) units are expressed as numbers of fish. Escapements are measured by aerial survey with area-under-the-curve calculations applied. Years of failure to meet the escapement goal are indicated when the escapement index dips below the lower bound escapement goal. Management changes to escapement goals are indicated by year-to-year changes in the escapement goal magnitude.


Figure 4: Pink salmon escapement indices (black) and escapement goal lower bounds (gray) for the even-year broodlines of the eight districts of Prince William Sound. Index (y-axis) units are expressed as numbers of fish. Escapement is measured by aerial survey with area-under-the-curve calculations applied. Years of failure to meet the escapement goal are indicated when the escapement index dips below the lower bound escapement goal. Management changes to escapement goals are indicated by year-to-year changes in the escapement goal magnitude.

Table 2: FishSource Scoring for Criterion #4.1: Prince William Sound Pink Salmon (Fried 1994; Bue et al. 2002; Fair et al. 2011; Sheridan et al. 2013).

Last updated on 20 October 2011

Presently there are four escapement goals for pink salmon in the Southeast Alaska and Yakutat region (Table 1). The three Southeast Alaska goals are biological escapement goal ranges. The Northern Southeast Inside and Northern Southeast Outside goals replaced a single Northern Southeast goal in place until 2002. Only the Southern Southeast goal has been lowered – just once in 2009, and this lowering was not associated with missed management objectives. The Situk River goal is a lower bound sustainable escapement goal, and replaces two Situk River goals previously in place for even and odd-year broodlines. The new goal was established based on an index of escapementdeveloped by Piston and Heinl (2011) in order to address inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the even-odd year data used for the earlier goals. A single goal based on a combined even and odd-year dataset was recommended, because assessing the even and odd year broodlines separately resulted in estimates that were not that different (38,000 versus 42,000 fish).

Table 1:FishSource Scoring for Criterion #2: Southeast Alaska Pink Salmon ( Zadina et al. 2004; Heinl et al. 2008; Piston and Heinl 2011; Davidson et al. 2012; Davidson et al.2013).

Reference Points

Last updated on 20 Oct 2011

Escapement goals for pink salmon in Southeast Alaska and Yakutat have not been missed more than twice for any stock in the last 15 years (Table 2). While escapements do show a declining trend over the past 15 years, annual rates of decline for all stocks were estimated to be below the threshold (5%) considered to be a biologically meaningful decline according to the methods of Geiger and Zhang (2002).

Table 2: FishSource Scoring for Criterion #4: Southeast Alaska Pink Salmon (Geiger and Zhang 2002; Zadina et al. 2004; Heinl et al. 2008; Piston and Heinl 2011; Davidson et al. 2012; Davidson et al.2013; Woods and Zeiser 2013).

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 12 August 2013

Stock status is assessed based on multi-year escapement trends and performance against escapement goals (see synopsis under reference point section and more detailed information under district profiles). 

Trends

Last updated on 12 Aug 2013

Commercial fishery harvest trends for pink salmon in achieved a historic peak in the 1940s of approximately 49 million fish annually. However, a new peak has been achieved in recent history, with harvests since 1980 amounting to approximately 92.6 million fish annually, or about 53% above the prior peak (Figure 2).


Figure 2: Historic Alaska pink salmon statewide harvest and overall catch value, 1878-2012 (http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=commercialbyfisherysalmon.salmoncatch#/pink).

Stock status is assessed based on multi-year escapement trends and performance against escapement goals. See synopsis under reference point section.

Stock status is assessed based on multi-year escapement trends and performance against escapement goals. See synopsis under reference point section.

Last updated on 19 October 2011

Stock status is assessed based on multi-year escapement trends and performance against escapement goals. See synopsis under reference point section.

Trends

Last updated on 19 Oct 2011

A score of “8” was awarded on Sub-Criterion 4.2 (catch levels). While harvests in the recent 5 year period are down considerably relative to the latter 1990’s (ADF&G 2011; Menard et al 2012), and this trend is not mirrored by the nearby Western Alaska Region stocks (ADF&G, Various Authors 1998-2012; Jackson et al 2010; Anderson and Nichols 2012; Wilburn and Keyse 2012), a period of minimal market interest since 2000 has limited fishing activity for Norton Sound pink salmon (ADF&G 2012a). As the lower of the two sub-criterion scores, the score of “8” was applied to the overall score for Criterion 4.

Last updated on 17 September 2014

Stock status is assessed based on multi-year escapement trends and performance against escapement goals. See synopsis under reference point section.

Trends

Last updated on 17 Sep 2014

While there were marked declines in annual yield of wild Prince William Sound pink salmon between the mid-1980s and late 1990s, the trend appears to have stabilized and our analysis of harvests over the past 15 years showed no meaningful change.The recent harvest trend for Prince William Sound falls among trends observed for neighboring regions, with increases observed for Cook Inlet (5%) and Yakutat (21%) and a decline observed for Southeast Alaska (4%) (Figure 7).


Figure 2: Comparison of pink salmon harvest trends in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and the neighboring Southeast Alaska, Yakutat, and Cook Inlet management areas. Wild harvest numbers were derived as follows:Prince William Sound numbers were derived by subtracting hatchery harvests from total harvests in the commercial common property fishery (Sheridan et al. 2013).Southeast Alaska (excluding Yakutat) numbers were derived by subtracting harvests from Yakutat (Piston and Heinl 2011; Woods and Zeiser 2013) andAnnette Island (Conrad and Davidson 2013) and reported hatchery harvests (Conrad and Davidson 2013) from total harvest estimates. Cook Inlet estimates were derived from the sum of Upper and Lower Cook Inlet harvests (ADF&G 2012; Hollowell et al. 2012; Shields and Dupuis 2013) minus hatchery harvests (ADF&G 2012; Hollowell et al. 2012 and Vercessi 2013). Trendlines and estimates of annual change in harvest as a percent of year zero between 1998 and 2012 were derived using the methods of Geiger and Zhang (2002).

Last updated on 20 October 2011

Reporting on the stock status of Southeast Alaska pink salmon in 2005, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) noted that commercial catches were at a sustained all-time high level based on data extending back to the 19th century, and escapements were similarly favorable based on data collected since statehood (Heinl and Geiger 2005). Since then, these abundance indicators have trended below historically high levels observed during 1980’s to 1990’s; and particularly poor returns were observed during even years between 2006 and 2012. Nonetheless, abundance is considered to be generally high relative to pre-1980’s levels (Piston and Heinl 2012). Returns of pink salmon to Southeast Alaska in 2013 were record setting, the harvest of over 89 million exceeding the 1999 harvest of over 77 million pink salmon (ADF&G 2013a and 2013b). Exceptional performances by both pink and coho salmon in Southeast Alaska this season suggest that a favorable ocean environment was a significant factor contributing to the high returns (Martin 2013). During years of high abundance, lack of processor capacity may limit harvests of pink salmon (Heinl and Geiger 2005), and this was certainly true in 2013 (Hesse 2013).

Trends

Last updated on 20 Oct 2011

Commercial catch of pink salmon in Southeast Alaska peaked initially in the 1940s at about 60 million fish (Heinl and Geiger 2005), but since the 1980s the fishery has sustained substantially larger harvests of up to nearly 90 million fish. Trends are driven by wild fish, which comprise roughly 97% of the Southeast Alaska pink salmon harvest (Piston and Heinl 2011).

Recent harvest trends were evaluated using the Geiger and Zhang (2002) approach, and by this measure, harvest of Southeast Alaska pink salmon declined by an estimated 4% annually between 1998 and 2012 (Figure 1).This trend is not similar for the neighboring Yakutat or Cook Inlet areas or the Kodiak area, where harvests showed annual increases of 21%, 5% and 3% respectively during the same time period. However, a similar trend is observed for Southeast Alaska chum salmon (FishSource 2013).Piston and Heinl (2012) have noted that harvests remain at historically high levels and have attributed recent declines in harvests of Southeast Alaska pink salmon to poor or below average runs over the past decade.The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has consistently managed Southeast Alaska pink salmon to achieve escapement goals, and has imposed closures and restrictions in harvest to do so (Davidson et al. 2013). Further, our analysis does not include the historic high harvest of over 89 million pink salmon in 2013 (ADF&G 2013a and 2013b).


Figure 1:Comparison of pink salmon harvest trends in Southeast Alaska and Yakutat and the neighboring Cook Inlet and Kodiak management areas. Southeast Alaska (excluding Yakutat) numbers were derived by subtracting harvests from Yakutat (Piston and Heinl 2011; Woods and Zeiser 2013) and Annette Island (Conrad and Davidson 2013) and reported hatchery harvests (Conrad and Davidson 2013) from total harvest estimates. Cook Inlet estimates were derived from the sum of Upper and Lower Cook Inlet harvests (ADF&G 2012a; Hollowell et al. 2012; Shields and Dupuis 2013) minus hatchery harvests (ADF&G 2012a; Hollowell et al. 2012 and Vercessi 2013). Kodiak estimates were derived by subtracting hatchery harvests (Jackson et al. 2012; Vercessi 2013) from total harvests (ADF&G 2012b; Jackson et al. 2012).Estimates of annual change as a percent of year zero and trendlines between 1998 and 2012 were derived using the methods of Geiger and Zhang (2002).

Stock status is assessed based on multi-year escapement trends and performance against escapement goals. See synopsis under reference point section.

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 20 October 2011

In-season management responsiveness

ADF&G has a proven record of active salmon fishery management in Alaska. Fishery managers rely on rolling time-area closures and monitoring of catch and escapement to control harvests. These controls are used to achieve escapement goals and to spread the catch out over the course of the run in order to avoid depletion of localized components of the run.

Multi-year management responsiveness

There are no pink salmon stocks of concern in Alaska.The management system for Alaska salmon has also been effective in addressing other stocks of concern when designated.

However, Prince William Sound pink salmon have exhibited declining escapement and wild yield trends in the recent past. We expect the wild stock yield to either fluctuate back up in the next review cycle, or we expect management to take notice of the decline in yield from the Prince William Sound wild stocks and consider this as a yield concern.

Management responsiveness to habitat issues

ADF&G has a division devoted to permitting and monitoring the use of freshwater habitat. The agency has a record of altering or halting projects that may diminish salmon habitat.

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 20 Oct 2011

None required.

Last updated on 19 October 2011

Harvest of pink salmon in Norton Sound is generally incidental to the harvest of other species, and as such, there is no in-season management based on pink salmon abundance in Norton Sound (SCS 2007). Where there are targeted pink salmon fisheries, harvest is somewhat self-restricting due to limited buyer interest (ADF&G 2012a); exploitation rates are considered to be generally low and management objectives are consistently met (Menard et al 2012).

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 19 Oct 2011

Pink salmon stocks in Norton Sound rarely failed to achieve escapement goals over the past 15 years, and none are designated stocks of concern (ADF&G 2004; Volk et al 2009; Menard et al 2012; ADF&G 2012b; Munro and Volk 2012).

Last updated on 20 October 2011

In-season management responsiveness

Alaska is renowned for its in-season management of the salmon fishery, and the Prince William Sound pink salmon fishery is characterized by in-season responsiveness on the part of management. Through the issuance of emergency orders, temporal and spatial fishing openings and closures are employed in the effort to meet wild stock escapement goals. Only hatchery fish are allocated to user groups for harvest, and fishery openings targeting wild stocks are permitted when escapement goals are projected to be achieved by the end of the season.

Escapement targets have been missed to varying degrees in some districts. See Fair et al. (2011), Tables 2 and 6 in Munro and Volk (2014), and the ADF&G Forecast document series (e.g., Eggers et al. (2013)).

Multi-year management responsiveness

Alaska’s Sustainable Salmon Fisheries Policy, adopted in 2000, establishes a system whereby ADF&G reports to the Alaska Board of Fisheries on the status of wild stocks and identifies stocks that are not meeting escapement goals or yield expectations. Three levels of concern are identified: (1) a yield concern is the least severe and results from an inability to maintain expected harvest levels over a 4- to 5-year period, (2) a management concern relates to the inability to maintain escapements within escapement goal ranges over a 4- to 5-year period despite the use of management measures, and (3) a conservation concern is the most severe and relates to the inability over a 4- to 5-year period to maintain escapements above a minimum threshold below which the stock’s ability to sustain itself is jeopardized. Stocks that have been classified as a stock of concern require a Board-approved action plan to identify an appropriate management response to the concern.

No Prince William Sound pink salmon stocks have been classified as stocks of concern so far, although other stocks in Alaska have been from time to time. In 2002, district and brood-year specific escapement goals were downgraded to the status of “management targets,” and a single Sound-wide escapement goal was set instead. As a result, stocks in particular districts could not be evaluated for stock of concern designation until the recent re-establishment of the district-specific goals, effective beginning in 2012.

ADF&G has responded to wild yield declines with active in-season management. For a broad review of the fishing seasons see Eggers et al. (2013) and other reports in this series. While yields of wild Prince William Sound pink salmon declined significantly between the mid 1980’s and the late 1990’s, they appear to be in a period of relative, albeit lower, stability.At present, there are no Prince William Sound pink salmon stocks that warrant stock of concern designation.

Management responsiveness to habitat issues

Salmon habitat in Prince William Sound is fairly pristine, and no concerns regarding upcoming development projects were raised during researching for this report. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill did affect pink salmon habitat, particularly in oiling intertidal spawning areas of some streams.

The habitat division of ADF&G has a record of active engagement in development project planning and efforts to minimize the effects of development on fish. However, the precise role of this division as well of some of their guiding practices have, under several recent Alaskan state administrations, morphed in a direction that is likely to leave fish habitat more vulnerable to potential developmental impacts.

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 20 Oct 2011

There are no pink salmon stocks with regulatory listing (and recovery action plans), past or present, in Prince William Sound.

Last updated on 20 October 2011

In-season management responsiveness

Pink salmon in Southeast Alaska and Yakutat are harvested in purse seine, gillnet and troll fisheries. The vast majority of the harvest occurs in Southeast Alaska purse seine fisheries (97% on average between 2002 and 2011 (Davidson et al. 2013; Skannes et al. 2013; Woods and Zeiser 2013)). Most management actions in the purse seine fishery are based on in-season abundance of pink salmon, which is the primary target species.

Multi-year management responsiveness

Existing and previously existing escapement goals have been met over the past 15 years with few exceptions (Zadina et al. 2004; Heinl et al. 2008; Piston and Heinl 2011; Davidson et al. 2012; Davidson et al. 2013; Woods and Zeiser 2013).The Alaska department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) also employs district targets for in-season management; sections of these districts have remained closed to fishing over periods of years when local abundance has been judged to be low (Davidson et al. 2013).

Management responsiveness to habitat issues

There is an ADF&G division devoted to permitting and monitoring the use of freshwater habitat. The agency has a record of altering or halting projects that may diminish salmon habitat (ADF&G 2013j). However, under the leadership of Alaska’s current governor, the administration has been aggressively amending permitting policies in order to achieve their agenda of fast tracking development projects throughout the state (CCC 2011; Homer News 2013; Homer Tribune 2013; Sit News 2013). These changes are eroding policies that have protected Alaska’s fish habitat for decades, while simultaneously striking to diminish existing platforms for public participation in the permitting process. Further, recent changes to habitat management policies have overridden the consensus of ADF&G habitat biologists. Staff biologists are reportedly prohibited from speaking candidly on the issue to the public, and internal dialogue is to be monitored by senior staff (APM 2013).

Alaska management, together with a number of conservation groups, has provided constructive input to a number of transboundary river mining projects that are still in the planning stage. Acceptance of these suggestions will be known only when the projects are in their full exploitation phase. However the scale of potential development in the headwaters of Southeast Alaska’s Stikine and Unuk Rivers is of concern, as is the failure of the Canadian Government to enforce permit requirements. Also, the failure of the Alaska Legislature to renew the Coastal Zone Management Program decreases the opportunity for review of coastal development projects.

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 20 Oct 2011

There are no pink salmon stocks with regulatory listing (and recovery action plans) in Southeast Alaska.

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 27 December 2011

ADF&G has an extensive fish-ticket reporting system, with compliance monitoring and criminal penalties for intentional misreporting.

Last updated on 19 October 2011

There is an effective system in place to enforce regulations, monitor objectives and report results of the fishery. Illegal fishing is not a significant problem.

Last updated on 16 September 2014

ADF&G has an extensive fish-ticket reporting system, with compliance monitoring and criminal penalties for intentional misreporting.After attaining statehood, improvement in fisheries enforcement and poaching prevention was achieved in Alaska through the “deputization” of ADFG field staff as peace officers capable of enforcing fish and game laws. Full-time enforcement officers were also commissioned and participated in regulation of the fishery. Today one division of the Alaska State Troopers is devoted to fish and wildlife protection. The management system includes formal arrangements between ADF&G and Alaska State Troopers for review of the effectiveness of enforcement. Applicable rules are consistently applied. Enforcement actions are effective in achieving the objectives of management. There are no infractions being consistently committed in the fishery (SCS 2007).

Last updated on 20 October 2011

ADF&G has an extensive fish-ticket reporting system, with compliance monitoring and criminal penalties for intentional misreporting (ADF&G 2013i).

HATCHERY IMPACTS

Two of the three main pink salmon producing regions of Alaska, Prince William Sound and Kodiak, operate large-scale hatchery programs. In the third region, Southeast Alaska, hatchery fish comprise approximately 1% of the pink salmon harvest. Alaskan hatcheries release more pink salmon juveniles than any other salmon species, with pink salmon currently comprising 56% of hatchery releases. Releases of pink salmon from Alaskan hatcheries have held fairly steady over the last 15 years, while steady increases in chum salmon releases have fueled an overall increase in Alaskan hatchery releases of all salmon species to a new peak of 1.671 billion releases in 2012.


Figure 1: Annual releases of the five species of salmon from Alaskan hatcheries, 1982-2012 (figures taken from ADF&G and Fred annual enhancement reports, 1982-2012).

In the 2007 MSC assessment, the Prince William Sound (PWS) pink salmon fishery rated “barely 60” for performance indicator 3.1.10 regarding evaluation of hatchery practices and impacts on wild stocks (SCS 2007). A relevant condition (#67) was assessed (and remains open) (Moody Marine 2011). Since the 2007 assessment, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has adopted a two-phase hatchery review schedule that is moving from region to region annually. The review began in Western Alaska in 2011, but only looked at policies and regulations in the first phase. Impacts on wild stocks will be examined only in the second phase. PWS will undergo first-phase review in 2012, but the second phase will likely not take place for another five years, meaning that this condition will have gone unanswered for 10 years (Mark Stopha, ADF&G Hatchery Program Evaluation Specialist, personal communication, 2012).

An internal ADF&G review of Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation (PWSAC), which unearthed several violations of regulations that protect wild stocks and other regulations, was conducted in 2009 (Lewis et al. 2009). The review was posted, then subsequently pulled from the ADF&G website, and no public information exists indicating that any actions have been taken on the recommendations of the reviewers.

Risk of hatchery enhancement activities in PWS has increased since the 2007 assessment date due to approved production increases that have occurred after the assessment. In 2011, a 34 million pink salmon hatchery production increase (5% region-wide increase) at Cannery Creek Hatchery (part of PWSAC), was approved. A memo from prominent ADF&G staff scientists (including both the Commercial and Sport Fish Division chief scientists) argues against approval of the permit alteration request (PAR) submitted by PWSAC in 2011, but the request was approved by the Commissioner of Fish & Game (Volk et al. 2011).

Greater scientific evidence of risk of hatchery activities in the region has also been documented since 2007. Results of ADF&G research on the magnitude and distribution of hatchery straying in PWS using data for pink salmon since 2008 showed very high straying rates (0-85%) in historically significant spawning areas (Brenner et 2012).

Currently, there is insufficient information to conclude that harvests targeting enhanced fish are not adversely affecting wild pink stocks or that enhancement activities are not negatively impacting wild stock abundance or fitness. In light of this fact, it is troubling that permit alteration requests are being approved, hatchery evaluation plans are developing slowly, and recommendations of prominent scientists are not being followed.

Specifically, due to the “barely 60” 2007 MSC assessment rating for indicator 3.1.10, slow management response to this indicator, and heightened risk introduced by regional hatchery volume increases implemented since then, FishSource considers that the fishery no longer meets the MSC 60 standard for this indicator, reflected in a “<6” rating for this criterion.

There is no hatchery production of pink salmon in Norton Sound (Vercessi 2012).

Four of five salmon hatcheries located in Prince William Sound produce pink salmon. Three of these hatcheries (Armin F. Koernig, Wally Noerenberg, and Cannery Creek) are operated by the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation (PWSAC), while the fourth, Solomon Gulch Hatchery, is operated by the Valdez Fisheries Development Association (VFDA). Both of these Private Non-Profit (PNP) operators conduct an annual cost-recovery harvest and receive proceeds from a fisheries enhancement tax on fishermen. Production of pink salmon by these facilities has increased enormously over the last three-and-a-half decades (Figure 5).


Figure 5: Annual hatchery production of pink salmon in Prince William Sound began in 1976 (1975 brood year) in Prince William Sound, and has grown significantly, peaking at nearly 674 million releases in 2012 (Sheridan et al. 2013; Vercessi 2014).

Since the mid-1980s, hatcheries have contributed the majority of pink salmon production in Prince William Sound (Figure 6).


Figure 6: Harvest of hatchery and wild pink salmon in Prince William Sound, 1977-2013 (number of fish) (Sheridan et al. 2013; Vercessi 2014).

Hatchery returns in 2012 and 2013 represented over 80% of the total pink salmon return and averaged 82% of the harvest (Table 3).

Table 3: Estimate of the percent of wild total production in the PWS pink salmon fishery by year. Values for years 2000-2012 are taken directly or derived from data in Sheridan et al. (2013). Harvest data for 2013 are taken from Vercessi et al. (2014); Escapement data for 2013 was derived by summing district escapements reported in Munro and Volk (2014).

Concerns regarding the conduct of the hatchery program in Prince William Sound, given its large scale and minimally understood effects, resulted in the Marine Stewardship Council excluding the Prince William Sound unit of certification from its recertification of the Alaska salmon fishery pending results of further study and additional assessment (Intertek Moody Marine 2012).

Wild stock management

Alaska has policies that clearly state wild stocks have a priority and that they are to be protected. However, there is evidence that the managers are not succeeding at managing the wild stocks in the face of the hatchery program in Prince William Sound (e.g., see Hilborn and Eggers (2000), although their conclusions remain controversial). The effects of stray hatchery fish in spawning escapements are only beginning to be understood, and are far from being addressed from a management perspective. Additionally, there has been a long history of poor regulatory compliance by the hatchery operators, complicating the fishery management (see Lewis et al. 2009).

While the continual increase in releases of hatchery pink salmon over the past several decades has coincided with increased total regional harvest, wild harvest has meanwhile decreased. It is unclear whether or not hatchery production has resulted in net fishery augmentation, due to the involvement of other factors (ocean conditions, fishing pressure, etc.). Hilborn and Eggers (2000) posited that hatcheries have been ineffective in this respect, while other authors have found that hatchery production did benefit fisheries (Wertheimer et al. 2001; Wertheimer et al. 2004).

The number of eggs that a hatchery can take from returnees to use as broodstock for the next generation is regulated through the hatchery’s operating permit. The Private Non-Profit hatchery operators can submit Permit Alteration Requests (PARs) seeking increases in permitted egg take volumes. The PARs are reviewed by ADF&G scientists and voted upon by the Regional Planning Team (RPT), a six-member panel composed of three ADF&G staff and three individuals chosen by the board of directors of the regional PNP. If the RPT votes 3 to 3, the Commissioner of Fish and Game makes the final decision to approve or deny PARs. In 2011, the egg broodstock ceiling at Cannery Creek Hatchery was raised from 152 million to 187 million eggs. While no Prince William Sound-area hatcheries submitted PARs in 2012, (the first time in over a decade that this occurred), a 2014 PAR was approved allowing a gradual 40 million egg increase in the permitted capacity at the Solomon Gulch Hatchery. The additional capacity translates into a potential 5.5% increase in production for the Prince William Sound area by the year 2018 (ADF&G 2014a; Intertek Moody Marine 2014).

In memos regarding the 2010 and 2011 PWSAC permit alteration requests to increase egg take volumes at Prince William Sound hatcheries, prominent ADF&G scientists indicated the difficulty of measuring wild stock escapement and controlling wild stock harvest rates amidst rising hatchery production volumes (Regnart and Hasbrouck 2010; Volk et al. 2011a). Memo authors expressed concern that hatchery strays are being counted toward wild escapement goals and that adjustment of escapement goals to make them specific to wild stocks is not feasible without better information on wild stock productivity. Meanwhile, the particular difficulty of avoiding wild stocks in harvest at the Armin F. Koernig and Wally Noerenberg hatcheries has been cited as another important concern, as these two hatcheries are located along multiple wild stock migration corridors. Successful management of wild stocks has also been challenged in the Eastern District of Prince William Sound in years when returns to the Solomon Gulch hatchery have dramatically outnumbered wild stock returns (Stopha 2013).

Hatchery straying magnitude and measurement

Due to the extreme level of hatchery production and the mixed-stock nature of the Prince William Sound fishery, the risk of contact between hatchery and wild fish is significant; and straying of hatchery fish into pink salmon spawning areas has been identified as a threat to sustainability of wild stocks. Evidence indicates that straying rates from the hatcheries into the wild stocks are indeed high in certain areas (see per-district rates and corresponding per-stock FishSource scores for sub-criterion 5.2 in Table 4), and probably higher than what ADF&G previously considered permissible (see Brenner et al. 2012). While there are ongoing investigations into the interactions between wild and hatchery fish in Prince William Sound, there is currently no systematic measure of hatchery strays present in spawning areas, and as such no accounting for the error they introduce into annual estimates of wild escapement.

Several straying studies have been conducted over the last decade, all indicating that stray rates are high in some portions of the Sound, (Joyce and Evans 1999 (unpublished); Merizon 2004; Ashe et al. 2005; additionally see unpublished material compiled by ADF&G for Scientific Certifications Systems in 2005). The most recent study involved sampling in seven of the eight districts between 2008 and 2010, and revealed hatchery stray rates of 0–98% at wild spawning sites (Brenner et al. 2012). Taken together, Joyce and Evans’ (1999 and unpublished) and Brenner et al.’s (2012) studies cover all eight Sound districts, and indicate average stray rates (across all years and sites sampled) above 10% in five of eight districts, and an average stray rate of 20% across sites (Table 4).

Table 4: Hatchery stray rates for the eight pink salmon districts of Prince William Sound and corresponding per-stock FishSource scores for sub-criterion 5.2 (Magnitude and Measurement of Straying). Average stray are derived from data in Joyce and Evans (1999, unpublished) and Brenner et al. (2012).

Possible adverse effects of straying hatchery fish on wild stocks are numerous. Major concerns include:
1. the contact may result in introgression of domesticated or non-local genes into wild salmon;
 2. the contact may result in ecological interactions substantially reducing the wild-stock productivity;
 3. the contact may erode the ability to assess the wild salmon stocks; and
 4. the contact may result in problems controlling the harvest rate of the wild salmon.

Scientists and local managers have cited all of the concerns noted above as pertinent to the Prince William Sound pink salmon fishery. Stray rates in some locations far exceed the threshold of 2% included in the guiding management plan for hatcheries in Prince William Sound (PWS CRRPT 1994). The Brenner et al. (2012) study also indicates that stray rates are highest from the Armin F. Koernig and Wally Noerenberg hatcheries, with less straying from the Solomon Gulch hatchery.

In order to begin to answer questions about potential damage to wild stocks resulting from hatchery introgression, ADF&G initiated a $4.5 million project detailed in a Request for Proposal (RFP) entitled “Interactions of Wild and Hatchery Pink and Chum Salmon in Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska” (ADF&G 2012d). The project plan consists of a number of critically important research efforts, including straying studies, comparative fitness studies and ocean sampling. These studies should lead to improved productivity estimates and a better understanding of whether hatchery stocks are adversely affecting wild stock productivity. Information on the research is available on the ADF&G website (ADF&G 2014b). As of September 2014, details of the project’s progress consisted only of a 2012 annual report, primarily detailing the first year of field operations (PWSSC 2013).

Intentional stock mixing

This mixing does not appear to be intentional, but straying is causing stock mixing.

Policies

Alaska has a series of excellent policies, regulations, and statues to protect wild salmon stocks from unwanted effects of hatcheries. However, it appears that in the case of Prince William Sound, the regulations and policies are poorly enforced. Although ADF&G has “operational systems that limit hatchery impacts on wild salmon,” there are at least very strong indications that these systems are not being implemented effectively in Prince William Sound, and that ADF&G is not addressing this problem consistent with their policies.

In 2009, ADF&G carried out an internal review of PWSAC that included information relevant to the issue of hatchery effects on wild stocks (Lewis et al. 2009). The review included a description of several permit violations relevant to wild stock management, including withholding of data, conducting cost recovery harvest outside of Special Harvest Areas and refusal to fund monitoring. The review also outlined an action plan focused on addressing concerns and increasing the accountability and transparency of PWSAC. An ADF&G review committee was formed to focus on review of PWSAC progress in action plan implementation; according to a 2010 unpublished committee memo to ADF&G Commissioner Cora Campbell, many concerns have been resolved, but some remain (Aspelund 2011).

In 2010, ADF&G began implementation of a new two-phase hatchery evaluation program that moves from region to region on an annual basis. The first phase focuses on assessment of each hatchery program’s consistency with statewide policies, and recommendations to address any deficiencies. The first phase was completed for the Prince William Sound region in 2013 (Stopha 2013a; 2013b; 2013c; 2013d). While the second phase may address wild stock impacts more directly, this potential outcome is dependent on results from the hatchery and wild salmon interaction investigations (ADF&G 2012d), and regardless the period between first and second phase of hatchery evaluations is scheduled to occur on a five-year interval. Thus, the performance of the Prince William Sound hatchery programs are not likely to be assessed on this basis until at least 2018.

Other concerns

While not addressed as part of the FishSource scoring criteria for salmon populations, there are potential ecological interactions (in addition to those related to straying and described above) that are of concern. The Hilborn and Eggers (2000) study set the stage for several additional articles that questioned the cause of wild stock declines in Prince William Sound and pointed to competition between hatchery and wild juveniles for food. Willette et al. (2001) pointed out the complex nature of the relationship between size and final survival in Prince William Sound pink salmon populations, and concluded that near-shore compensatory mortality is likely during peak periods of hatchery releases, with mortality induced by size-selection caused by a year-specific profile of predators. Moss et al. (2005), looking at field observations from a single year, concluded that juvenile pink salmon in Prince William Sound may have “experienced enhanced density-dependent interactions which lowered growth rates.” Further, there are indications that large numbers of hatchery-produced juvenile pink salmon may be inhibiting the recovery of depressed Prince William Sound herring stocks through competition for food as well as predation (Pearson et al. 2012). Further study of the ecological effects of hatchery production on Pacific herring is noted by the Marine Stewardship Council as one of the research components needed to adequately assess the Prince William Sound fishery unit (Intertek Moody Marine 2013).

 

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 20 October 2011

Pink salmon fisheries in Southeast Alaska intercept migrating sockeye stocks that originate in British Columbia, as well as migrating Chinook salmon stocks that originate in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest USA. This take is closely monitored with Coded Wire Tags (CWT) and genetic data. Analyses are done post-season and results are presented annually to the Pacific Salmon Commission Northern Boundary Technical committee.

Limitations on harvest of British Columbia sockeye salmon in the Southeast Alaska pink salmon fishery are enacted under the auspices of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. The District 104 purse seine fishery is currently allotted 2.45% of Skeena and Nass (British Columbia) sockeye stocks and the District 101 fishery gillnet fishery 13.8%. Alaskan harvest of B.C. Nass and Skeena sockeye salmon averages 20% of total harvest of these stocks.

Overages and underages in interception harvests of Districts 104 and 101 are accumulated and carried forward to the next year (there is a running total of overages and underages) and management is expected to address any overages in the next year.By agreement, if there are overages for 5 consecutive years, management is mandated to come up with a management plan to reduce the cumulative overage.

The Alaska District 104 seine catch has been over the target catch in only 4 of the last 14 years and has a cumulative underage of over 100,000 sockeye.

Due to early closure of the Skeena river sockeye salmon fishery in Northern British Columbia in 2013, PSC managers will likely explore additional regulatory measures that can help Alaskan and B.C. managers to respond to major conservation concerns in-season (Clark, J, pers. comm., 08-09-13).

As for bycatch of non-salmonids, this fishery uses set and drift gillnets that can pose significant risk to diving seabirds. Two PET species that occur within the area of the fishery are Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) and Kittlitz’s Murrelet (B. brevirostris). A 2000 supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) declared that there was no significant impact on seabirds. However, the EIS claim is not supported with observer, logbook or other data. The finding was made was based on information that has not been updated since before 2000, and gave only consideration to the lack of competition for prey species, not entanglement in gear.

Last updated on 20 October 2011

There is some hypothetical concern about bycatch of salmon sharks in gillnet fisheries, but this bycatch is minor and not substantial.

Last updated on 21 February 2014

Harvest of British Columbia sockeye salmon in Southeast Alaska

Southeast Alaska pink salmon are harvested in mixed stock fisheries that capture all of the five local Pacific salmon species, including sockeye salmon of Canadian origin (Davidson et al. 2013a; Davidson et al. 2013b). Four Skeena River sockeye salmon populations are classified as endangered according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (Rand et al. 2012) and these stocks may be harvested incidentally in Alaska fisheries. However, commercial harvest by Canadian and Alaskan fleets is but one potential threat to the health of these stocks, and the Alaskan harvest is not the primary factor in their depleted status. The Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) through the provisions of the US and Canada’s Pacific Salmon Treaty administers allowable catch and share allocations of intercepted stocks.The PSC also presides over the annual review of each fishing season, from which recommendations for future seasons are made.

Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) sharing agreements applying to sockeye salmon are in place for 2 Southeast Alaska fishing districts (101 and 104), where encounters of Nass and Skeena River sockeye salmon are the highest (Wilcock et al. 2011; PST 2013). The present sharing regime was implemented in 2009 and is applicable through 2018.Nass and Skeena River stocks are managed to achieve annual allowable harvest (AAH) limits as estimated each year from preseason forecasts of total returns minus the escapement targets (TCNB 2013). Allowable catches for US fisheries are determined as a fixed percentage of the AAH, with provisions for addressing cumulative overages and underages (Wilcock et al. 2011; PST 2013).

The Alaska harvest in most years is a lesser component of the overall harvest and exploitation rate on these stocks (Figures 1 and 2), and catches have consistently been below the allowable annual harvest allocation as prescribed by the PSC (Blyth-Skyrme et al. 2013; TCNB 2013). The total Alaska catch of Skeena River sockeye salmon averaged 12.6% of the total Skeena River return from 1985–2000 and dropped to 8.3% from 2002–2011 (Figure 2). Since 2008 the Alaska catch has dropped even lower and averaged approximately 5% of the total return of Skeena River sockeye salmon (includes preliminary estimates from 2013).The overall harvest rate on Skeena River sockeye salmon, including Canadian catch, dropped from and average of 57% during 1985–2000 to 41% during 2002–2011.

(Click on figure to enlarge)
Figure 1.- Annual escapement and commercial exploitation rates for Skeena River sockeye salmon stocks harvested by Southeast Alaska and Canada between 1982 and 2008 (data are from English et al. 2011).

(Click on figure to enlarge)
Figure 2.- Total returns of sockeye salmon to the Skeena River, including Alaskan and Canadian harvests and escapements between 1985 and 2012 (data provided by personal communication from Andrew Piston, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and David Peacock, Department of Fisheries and Oceans).

While Southeast Alaska and areas around the state enjoyed a record-setting pink salmon run in 2013 (ADF&G 2013a and 2013b), conditions were considerably less favorable for some other fisheries. Throughout the purse seine and gillnet season Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) managers in the southern part of the region maintained close communication with the Canadian fishery management authority, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), regarding the status of unexpectedly poor Skeena River sockeye salmon returns (WCNN 2013). In an effort to mitigate capture of these stocks, ADF&G imposed additional limits in the form of reduced fishing time and area.

The Alaska harvest of sockeye salmon in the Alaska District 104 purse seine and District 101 drift gillnet fisheries has declined dramatically since the mid-1990s (Figure 2), due largely to reductions in fishing effort (PSC 2014).The reduction in effort in these key boundary area fisheries is the result of various factors, including reduced fleet size, increased fishing opportunity in terminal hatchery fisheries that draws effort away from mixed-stock fisheries, and management of the fisheries to ensure compliance with the annual allowable harvest of Skeena and Nass river sockeye salmon stocks.Alaska harvest rates on Canadian Nass and Skeena river sockeye salmon stocks in aggregate have declined as a result. A formal analysis of harvest rates by stock in the US harvest mixture would allow greater reassurance that harvest rates are sustainable for all; however, an analysis of this nature is beyond the scope of our assessment.

Factors apart from overharvesting have been attributed to the decline of Canadian sockeye salmon stocks. Habitat alteration is noted for having had adverse impacts on some declining Skeena River fish populations, including sockeye salmon (Gottesfeld and Rabbnet 2008). In addition, much scientific focus has been directed at shifting dynamics in the marine environment affecting Pacific salmon population trends (Connors et al. 2012; Canadian Geographic 2013).Impacts of changing climatological processes on both the freshwater and marine environment are predicted to impart unique effects with respect to the future viability and productivity of individual sockeye salmon populations (Reed et al. 2011; Bryant 2013). Management policies should be adaptive to change, particularly when long-term trends indicate that harvest rates are impeding a stock’s ability to recover, or regime shift has occurred such that existing management strategies are no longer appropriate.In the case of salmon stocks shared by the US and Canada, mechanisms for affecting optimal production and promoting fishery stability over the long-term lie within the provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty and the PSC process (PST 2013; PSC 2014).

Other Species

Last updated on 20 October 2011

There are no concerns about multi-species bycatch in Prince William Sound.

Sockeye salmon and chum salmon are incidentally harvested in the Prince William Sound pink salmon fishery, but these species are taken into account in the pink salmon management. All incidental harvest is accounted for in the management plan, and no additional measures to limit harvest rates are necessary. Furthermore, there have been multiple historical tagging and other studies done to determine stock origins of pink salmon and other species of salmon within Prince William Sound (e.g. Templin 1995).

Regulatory constraints on the pink salmon fishery are annually described in a fishery management plan, and constraints are reviewed every three years by the Alaskan Board of Fisheries.

HABITAT

Last updated on 20 October 2011

The 2007 MSC assessment authors identified no lasting habitat impacts from salmon fishing in Alaska. Salmon gear in SE Alaska is fished with little bottom contact.

Alaska’s freshwater salmon habitat has benefited from sparse human occupancy in most watersheds and a suite of state laws governing activities (road-building, logging, mining, etc.) in riparian areas and spawning streams. Alaska’s Anadromous Fish Act regulates construction activities in salmon streams; its Forest Practices Act requires buffer zones to protect salmon spawning and rearing areas from logging impacts; the Commissioner of Fish and Game has authoroity to require water rights on behalf of fish. Streamflow necessary for salmon is reserved under the Water Use Protection Act. Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation oversees discharge of pollutants to protect fresh and marine waters.

Climate change and especially its corollary, ocean acidification, are expected to bring significant changes to marine habitat of salmon in the North Pacific. Fishery managers will need “to know how acidification will affect managed species, and how quickly it will happen" (Evans et al., NPFMC 2007).

The recent (2012) failure of the Alaska Legislature to renew the Coastal Zone Management Program decreases the opportunity for review of coastal development projects. Alaska is the only state with coastal waters that does not have an active CZMP. The real strength of the CZMP was the designation of uses allowed in coastal zones. Much as a city can designate certain areas as residential and others as industrial, the CZMP designated certain coastal zones for conservation and others for growth, with limitations specified in permits. The CZMP provided a basis for protecting, restoring, and responsibly developing Alaska’s coastal communities and resources. The CZMP was also particularly useful in coordinating state and federal actions and provided a much-needed forum for public input concerning coastal habitat issues.

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 20 Oct 2011

Spatial and temporal fishery closures are actively used by fisheries management, and these measures achieve results commensurate with that of Marine Protected Area creation.

Last updated on 20 October 2011

The effects of salmon fisheries upon habitats and ecosystems are not particularly addressed in FishSource salmon fishery assessments unless there are extenuating circumstances; most salmon fisheries use low-impact gear and have a reduced footprint upon habitat and ecosystem.

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 20 Oct 2011

Spatial and temporal fishery closures are actively used by fisheries management, and these measures achieve results commensurate with that of Marine Protected Area creation.

Last updated on 20 October 2011

Waters within Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve are closed to gillnet fishing (one of the major salmon fishing methods in SE Alaska) and most other commercial fishing is either prohibited or being phased out within the 389 nm2 area. Edgecumb Pinnacles Marine Preserve, also known as Sitka Pinnacles Preserve, (3.1 sq. mi), established in 1999, is closed to all bottomfish and halibut fishing to protect habitat of lingcod and rockfish around two undersea volcanic cones. In addition, all of Southeast Alaska is closed to bottom trawling, and salmon fishermen are required to avoid waters near sea lion rookeries.

FishSource Scores

SELECT SCORES

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

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Different components of this salmon region score differently at the fishery level. Please look at the individual fisheries using the selection drop down above.

As calculated for 2013 data.

The score is 7.0.

The score of "7" reflects the lowest score among nested fishery profiles. It is inherited from the Prince William Sound fishery profile, which received the score due to lowering of escapement goals in association with missed management targets.

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DATA NOTES

Scores appearing at the region level reflect the range of scores for the district profiles for each of the five FishSource criteria.

The FishSource salmon scoring method is applied at the district level; click here to download.

The FishSource sustainability criteria as applied to salmon: Criterion 1. Management Responsiveness (Is the management strategy precautionary?) 1.1 Over the last decade, has fisheries management exhibited in-season responsiveness to stock status? 1.2 Has fisheries management responded appropriately over the last 15 years when/if the stock has failed to meet management objectives and/or maintain yields? 1.3 Has management exhibited responsiveness to concerns regarding the conservation and restoration of the stock’s essential freshwater, estuarine and coastal habitats during the last ten years? Criterion 2. Management Guidelines (Do the managers follow scientific advice?) Have appropriate escapement goals or operational equivalents been developed and implemented for the fishery’s wild stocks? Criterion 3. Adequacy of Data (Do fishers comply?) 3.1 Is a portion of harvest attributable to illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing, resulting in official harvest data that is lower than the actual catch? 3.2 Is the fishery’s harvest adequately and accurately measured and reported? 3.3 Has escapement been adequately and accurately measured and publicly reported? Criterion 4. Stock Status (Is the fish stock healthy?) 4.1 Have escapement measures for the fishery’s wild stocks been maintained above escapement goals or thresholds, or have harvest rates been below the target harvest rates? 4.2 Has the catch trend been level or increasing over a 15-year period? Criterion 5. Are hatcheries or other enhancement activities negatively affecting wild stocks? (Will the fish stock be healthy in the future?) 5.0 Do hatcheries account for 10% or less of the fishery’s total production, or are hatchery-produced fish not in substantial contact with wild salmon? If “no,” then the following sub-criteria are analyzed: 5.1 Are managers able to manage for the (wild) stocks in a fishery that also contains hatchery stocks of salmon? 5.2 Is there a low quantity of hatchery strays in the escapement throughout the freshwater habitat of the wild stock, and is hatchery straying quantified by means of a technically sound data collection and analysis? 5.3 Over the past 10 years, have hatchery strays, hatchery out-plants, or any returning hatchery-produced fish been intentionally allowed to mix with the wild stock during spawning? 5.4 Are there active and effective policies that (1) establish objectives for the conservation of wild salmon, (2) put into place operational systems that limit hatchery impacts on wild stocks, (3) grant sufficient oversight and authority over individual hatchery programs to management agencies, and (4) establish a hatchery evaluation system that monitors the performance of individual hatcheries against wild salmon conservation objectives?

Last updated on 21 June 2012

Click here to download the FishSource salmon scoring method.

Annette Island catch is calculated based on annual catch in numbers of fish (SCS 2011) and average annual weights of sockeye salmon in Southeast Alaska harvests (NPAFC 2011).

Download Source Data

Registered users can download the original data file for calculating the scores after logging in. If you wish, you can Register now.

Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

SELECT MSC

NAME

Alaska salmon

STATUS

MSC Recertified on 1 September 2000

SCORES

Principle Level Scores:

Unit of Certification Principle Score
Southeast Alaska Principle 1 – Target Species 80.7
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 81.0
Principle 3 – Management System 91.5
Yakutat Principle 1 – Target Species 97.1
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 83.7
Principle 3 – Management System 96.5
Prince William Sound

Principle 1 – Target Species

83.5

Principle 2 - Ecosystem 86.0
Principle 3 – Management System 91.5
Copper/Bering Districts Principle 1 – Target Species 82.4
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 85.7
Principle 3 – Management System 91.5
Lower Cook Inlet Principle 1 – Target Species 91.0
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 86.0
Principle 3 – Management System 89.5
Upper Cook Inlet Principle 1 – Target Species 94.3
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 85.7
Principle 3 – Management System 91.5
Bristol Bay Principle 1 – Target Species 98.9
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 87.3
Principle 3 – Management System 96.5
Yukon River Principle 1 – Target Species 91.7
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 87.3
Principle 3 – Management System 96.5
Kuskokwim Principle 1 – Target Species 91.2
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 87.3
Principle 3 – Management System 96.5
Kotzebue Principle 1 – Target Species 88.3
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 87.7
Principle 3 – Management System 96.5
Norton Sound Principle 1 – Target Species 84.2
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 87.3
Principle 3 – Management System 96.5
Kodiak Principle 1 – Target Species 82.5
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 85.3
Principle 3 – Management System 91.5
Chignik Principle 1 – Target Species 87.1
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 87.7
Principle 3 – Management System 96.5
Peninsula/Aleutian Islands Principle 1 – Target Species 97.4
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 87.3
Principle 3 – Management System 96.5

Certification Type: Silver

Sources

Credits

Acknowledgements

SFP is grateful to David Wiedenfeld of the American Bird Conservancy for contributing to this profile’s content.

References:

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  13. NPAFC. "North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission Statistical Yearbook. 1993-2009." http://www.npafc.org/new/pub_statistics.htmlScientific Certification Systems (SCS). 2011. MSC FINAL CERTIFICATION REPORT: THE ANNETTE ISLANDS RESERVE SALMON FISHERY. Certificate Code SCS-MF-0025.http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/certified/pacific/annette-islands-reserve-salmon/assessment-downloads-1/SS_FISH_AIR_V5_FinalPublicCertificationReport_.pdf

  14. Scientific Certification Systems (SCS). 2011. MSC FINAL CERTIFICATION REPORT: THE ANNETTE ISLANDS RESERVE SALMON FISHERY. Certificate Code SCS-MF-0025.  http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/certified/pacific/annette-islands-reserve-salmon/assessment-downloads-1/SS_FISH_AIR_V5_FinalPublicCertificationReport_.pdf

  15. SCS (Scientific Certification Systems). 2012. ANNETTE ISLANDS RESERVE SALMON FISHERIES: 2012 MSC Surveillance Visit Report. Certificate Number: F-SCS-0025.http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/certified/pacific/annette-islands-reserve-salmon/assessment-downloads-1/20120612_SR.pdf

  16. SCS (Scientific Certification Systems), 2013. Annette Islands Reserve Salmon Fisheries - 2013 MSC Surveillance Visit Report.June 2013. 51pphttp://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/pacific/annette-islands-reserve-salmon/assessment-downloads-1/20130627_SR_SAL148.pdf
  17. Skannes, P., Hagerman, G., and Shaul, L. 2012. Annual Management Report for the 2011 Southeast Alaska/Yakutat Salmon Troll Fisheries. Fishery Management Report No. 12-02. Anchorage, AK: Alaska Department of Fish and Game. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov
  18. Vincent, A., Beamesderfer, R., 2015. Annette Islands Reserve Salmon 4th Annual Surveillance Audit Report. SCS Global Services. July 2015. 32pp https://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/pacific/annette-islands-reserve-salmon/assessment-downloads-1/20150723_SR_SAL148.pdf
  19. Blyth-Skyrme, R., Ruggerone, G., Schmidt, D., Seeb, J., Knapman, P., 2013. Alaska Salmon Fishery – Public Certification Report. Intertek Moody Marine, November 2013. 583pphttp://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/pacific/alaska-salmon/new-client-2nd-re-assessment-download-documents/20131114_PCR_V3_SAL002.pdf
  20. Blyth-Skyrme, R., Ruggerone, G., Seeb, J., 2015. First Annual Surveillance Report - Alaska Salmon Fishery. Intertek Fisheries Certification Ltd, February 2015. 47pphttp://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/pacific/alaska-salmon/new-client-2nd-re-assessment-download-documents/20150224_SR_SAL002.pdf
  21. Volk, E. C. and R. P. Josephson. 2011. Alaska Salmon Hatchery Releases, Commercial Fishery Catch Statistics, and Sport Fishery Catch Statistics for 2010 Season. NPAFC Doc. 1338. 6pp. Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Commercial Fisheries, P.O. Box 115526, Juneau, AK. 99811-5526.http://www.npafc.org/new/publications/Documents/PDF%202011/1338(USA).pd
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References

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