Atnarko Sockeye Recover Plan
The Atnarko River watershed is located in Nuxalk Ancestral Territory on the Central Coast of British Columbia approximately 55 km east of the community of Bella Coola. The river flows 43km through a series of five connected Sockeye salmon nursery lakes (Elbow, Rainbow, Tenas, Lonesome, and Stillwater) before joining the Talchako River to become the Bella Coola River. Atnarko Sockeye have been observed spawning in and between all five lakes as well as downstream of Stillwater Lake. Sockeye from the Atnarko appear to exhibit three distinct life-history types that differ in the amount of time they rear in freshwater before migrating to sea.
Assessing bias and solutions in camera-based groundfish surveys
Since 2015, CCIRA has conducted groundfish surveys by towing a video camera equipped with lasers behind a boat. In this paper, CCIRA scientists assess sources of bias in these fish counts, and provide corrections to strengthen future research efforts and lead to better conservation outcomes.
Indigenous perspectives improve research and resource management
Co-authored by representatives from all four of our Nations, this paper highlights the individual strengths of Indigenous knowledge and western science, illustrating how these complementary world views can be used in combination to enhance research and resource management. Critically, when Indigenous perspectives are not considered in research, policymakers may lack the information needed to make socially just decisions. The authors make recommendations to other ecologists for effective collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
Key habitats identified for rockfish conservation
Rockfish are an important part of the ecosystems, cultures and local economies of Central Coast communities. This study sheds new light on the most important habitat types for the 22 species of rockfish that live in nearshore waters of our Nations’ territories. This new information could help strengthen the design of Marine Protected Areas with respect to long-term rockfish conservation. Researchers also discovered previously undocumented nearshore areas with a high diversity of rockfish and large concentrations of deep-water corals and glass sponges. The area–heterogeneity tradeoff applied to spatial protection of rockfish (Sebastes spp.) species richness(PDF)
Indigenous peoples’ rights and marine protected areas
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have the potential to recognize, honour, and re-invigorate Indigenous rights and support biodiversity conservation. This paper is a review of global case studies examining the inclusion of indigenous rights within marine planning processes. Special reference is given to the ongoing government-to-government collaboration in BC within the MPA network planning process.
Indigenous knowledge contributes to crab management and conservation
Dungeness crab are an important part of our culture as a traditional source of local food for our Nations. As recreational and commercial fishing pressure has increased over time, the decline in the local abundance of crab has made it harder to catch enough to meet our food needs. However, long-term scientific data to support management actions for central coast crab are sparse. In this paper, the local and traditional knowledge of our fishers is used to fill in gaps in existing scientific data and provide new insights into changes in central coast crab populations. Results uncovered severe declines in crab populations since the 1990s, while illustrating that our fishers’ local and traditional knowledge can make important contributions to crab management and conservation.
Indigenous knowledge illuminates yelloweye rockfish population declines
Yelloweye rockfish are important components of marine ecosystems and they also have cultural and commercial value as a source of food. In recent decades this species has been experiencing dramatic declines in size and abundance on the central coast of BC. Our people’s knowledge of this species goes back decades further than any scientific dataset, and is the best source of data on historical yelloweye populations in this region. This paper, published by scientists at the University of Victoria and CCIRA, illustrates how our traditional and local knowledge has enhanced our understanding of changes in yelloweye populations over the past 65 years. This work also serves as a template for integrating indigenous knowledge into research and management of other fisheries in Canada and elsewhere.
Declining size and age of rockfishes
Our fisheries and science coordinators, Madeleine McGreer and Alejandro Frid, have published a new paper showing that recent declines in the size and age of rockfishes in our territories are rapid, strong, and appear to be ongoing. These species, that our Nations rely on for food and cultural sustenance, are at historical low levels of abundance. Since older, bigger rockfish produce more young than smaller, younger fish, the authors suggest that managers strive to restore old and large fish to aid the recovery of central coast rockfish populations.
Rockfish conservation and indigenous rights
Our science and fisheries coordinators, Alejandro Frid and Madeleine McGreer, just published research by our Nations linking the ages and sizes of rockfish in our territories to our indigenous right to harvest wild food for food and cultural practice. The research found that Yelloweye and Quillback rockfishes were larger in areas with lower fishery pressure. Possibly due to overfishing, however, old-aged Yelloweye rockfish were rare. Because older fish produce more larvae that survive better and grow faster, this finding raises concern about the conservation status of Yelloweye. The research also suggests that Rockfish Conservation Areas—where non-indigenous fisheries are excluded—can protect First Nation’s access to rockfish, as long as habitat suitability and effective monitoring and enforcement are included in spatial management.
Atnarko Sockey Recovery Plan
The collapse of Atnarko Sockeye, and their failure to recover, has led to cultural and economic hardship for the Nuxalk Nation and has also impacted non First Nation communities that historically benefitted from a directed commercial fishery. As a result, there has been interest in developing a recovery plan that lays out prospects for recovery and actions to support it. A recovery-planning workshop was held in Bella Coola in the fall of 2015 to review available data, identify factors potentially limiting survival and productivity (by life stage) and determine actions to promote recovery. A Nuxalk food fisher workshop was also held to understand how Nuxalk food fisheries have changed in response to the Atnarko Sockeye decline. This report is a product of these efforts and is intended as a framework to guide activities promoting the recovery of Atnarko Sockeye.
Dungeness crab and spatial closures
CCIRA’s science and fisheries coordinators, Alejandro Frid and Madeleine McGreer, recently published results our on-going Dungeness crab research. Research results confirm the hypothesis that fisheries decrease the abundance and size of exploited species, but spatial protection can reverse these effects. Read about it in global ecology.
Dungeness crab research by the wuikinuxv nation
Our ongoing field studies are monitoring the status of Dungeness crab throughout our territories. This report presents interim results from a tagging study conducted by the Wuikinuxv Nation during May of 2014 at two sites in Rivers Inlet.
Social and economic assessment and analysis of first nation communities
A social and economic assessment and analysis of First Nation communities and territorial natural resources in the region. Project components include a community survey to create a demographic profile of First Nation communities on the Central Coast and a commercial economic assessment of marine resource sectors in the region.