For years, Central Coast First Nations have witnessed alarming declines in local salmon populations, and have been raising concerns about the devastating effect this will have on coastal ecosystems and the local communities they support.
To make matters worse, investment in salmon monitoring has declined significantly over the past decade. The lack of data collected through monitoring programs, and insufficient processes for sharing this information, limits the ability of fisheries managers to make evidence-based decisions regarding salmon conservation and management on the Central Coast.
In response to this urgent need for increased salmon monitoring and stewardship, the Pacific Salmon Foundation partnered with CCIRA, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv First Nations, DFO, and Charter Patrolmen to develop a new report – A Salmon Monitoring & Stewardship Framework for British Columbia’s Central Coast (pdf).
With contributions from local scientists, fisheries managers and independent salmon experts, the report identifies more than 200 tangible actions to improve local salmon monitoring efforts, including hiring seasonal staff, creating salmon monitoring internships for local youth, utilizing new technologies for escapement monitoring and expanding First Nations led monitoring of recreational fisheries.
“Central Coast First Nations are steadily asserting their rights and increasing capacity to manage their marine resources,” says Rich Chapple, President of CCIRA. “This framework serves as a structured guide that will help build upon the scientific foundations necessary for effective fisheries governance.”
The actions outlined in this report will not only support recovery and conservation of wild Pacific salmon, but also help strengthen efforts in collaborative fisheries management (for the Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement, for example). The report’s strategies and conclusions may also provide an approach to replicate for other First Nations wishing to strengthen salmon monitoring and stewardship in their traditional territories.