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DFO Herring Memo

DFO Herring Memo

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Published by The Globe and Mail
Memorandum for the minister dated Dec. 9, 2013: Re-opening strategy for three major herring stock areas
Memorandum for the minister dated Dec. 9, 2013: Re-opening strategy for three major herring stock areas

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Published by: The Globe and Mail on Mar 31, 2014
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000587
1+1
Fisheries and Oceans anada Deputy
Minister
Peches
et Oceans
anada
Sous-mlnlstre
DEC
0 9
2 13
2013-502-00354
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v2
MEMORANDUM
FOR
THE
MINISTER
RE-OPENING STRATEGY FOR
THREE
MAJOR HERRING STOCK AREAS
SUMMARY . A decision
is
sought on
the
re-opening strategy for three
of
five major herring stock areas (Haida Gwaii, Central Coast and West Coast Vancouver Island) that have be.cn closed for
up to
a decade. 'The forecast
for
2014 indicates that stocks
in
the three previously closed areas are above the cut
off'
level
that could trigger a commercial fishery (Tab 1
.
Key
considerations
for
re-opening these closed areas are biological status of the stocks, manageability
of
the fisheries
and legal risk
around First Nation rights recognition. Consultations
with
industry stakeholders
and
First Nations
on
the management plan
for
the
20
13·
14
season are polarized. First Nations support continued commercial closures, stating there
is
a
need
to
define rebuilding objectives and review harvest rules before opening these areas. The commercial sector points
to
these stocks being above the cut
off'
and
recommends commercial
roe
herring
and
Spawn on Kelp (SOK) fisheries with reduced harvest rates. The Department announced
in
the Spring that the harvest management system needs
to
be
reviewed
to
align with the objectives
of
the Sustainable Fisheries Framework; however this
work
will
not
be
completed
for
2014.
Work
continues
with
First Nations
to
address concerns about herring management and
the
implementation
of
fishing rights.
As
a result, the management approach taken
for
2013/
20
14
requires caution and consideration
of
the risks. Commercial harvests are being planned
for
the 2013/2014
roe
herring
and
Spawn
on
Kelp (SOK) fisheries
in
the Strait
of
Georgia
and
Prince Rupert. However,
for
the three areas showing signs
of
recovery, it
is
recommended that they remain closed
in
2014 while progress is made
on
the
new
management framework, includi
ng
ecological indicators
in
Gwaii Haanas. The
final
draft Pacific Herring Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP)
is
scheduled
to
be
released midDecember.
BACKGROUND
There are five major stock assessment areas
for
Pacific herring. Three
of
the areas (Haida
Gwaii,
Central Coast
and
West Coast Vancouver lsland) have been closed to commercial harvest
for much
ofthe
last
decade.
The
other
two
areas, Strait
of
Georgia and Prince Rupert District,
have
sufficient abundance to support commercial harvest. The forecast for 2014 indicates that stocks
in
the three previously closed.areas are above the cut otl
level
that could trigger a commercial fishery (Tab
1).
Because of the extended closure,
the
Department consulted this
fall
on
approaches for re-opening these areas. Options discussed include:
1)
Maintain closures
for
commercial fisheries until further evidence of recovery is available and
the
harvest management strategy
is
evaluated;
and
2)
Allow
some
harvest but at a
more
conservative 1
0%
harvest rate until the harvest management strategy is evaluated.
Canada
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There are divergent views on approaches
for
2013/14. First Nations have voiced strong support
for
continuing the existing commercial closures. They have raised views that the current management and assessment system
led
to
these areas being closed for
an
extended period.
In
addition, as part ofthe 2010 Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement,
DFO
and the Haida agreed to establish ecosystem objectives for the National Marine Conservation Area
by
2015. The commercial sector requested that 2014 herring fisheries take place, albeit
at
a reduced harvest rate
from
the established 20%,
in
all areas above
••cut
off, regardless
of
he extended closures. This
wil1
help rationalize their operations over a balance
of
areas and work towards their objective
of
security
of
access.
The
Department proposes to review the
25
year old harvest management strategy for herring
to
align the control rules with the Sustainable Fisheries Framework. The series
of
steps involve:
1)
development
of
biologically derived
limit
and target reference points through a scientific review process;
2)
evaluation
of
he
performance
of
he
existing harvest control rules; 3)define
what
is
a rebuilt herring stock; and
4)
integration
of
ecosystem based objectives. All
of
hese steps
are
relevant for proper assessment and renewal ofthe management strategy. However, this evaluation process will require time to complete.
ANALYSIS
Science assessment indicates
an
increase
in
herring biomass and a possible decrease
in
natural mortality in most areas, but the reasons
for
this decrease
in
natural mortality are not clear.
In
all
three stock
areas
there has been a long
{20-30
years) downward trend
in
spawning biomass. The science advice indicates that although herring biomass has increased
in
each
of
he closed
areas,
the forecast is for levels to remain near the
••cut
off'. The Department
is
still
negotiating with stakeholders to develop
a
program for continued assessment
of
stocks. Although this
is
a key interest
t
all parties, adequate funding remains
a
significant barrier. Allowing for a commercial opening at a
20
harvest rate is not supported
by
first Nations or through the Department's analysis. The commercial sector has proposed a less than 20% harvest rate.
While
a I
0
harvest rate
is
more precautionary and would likely be supported by the commercial sector, this
would not be
supported by most First Nations
who
do
not view the stocks as rebuilt. Both Heiltsuk
and
Haida have voiced strong opposition
to
any commercial fisheries in 2014.
STR TEGIC
CONSIDER TIONS
The herring industry is frustrated
by
issues impacting their profitability, including high licence fees, a lack
of
DFO
funding for the stock assessment program, and access
to
the resource. They have initiated a legal review
of
he Department's decision processes over the past years. Their interest in opening these previously closed
areas is
strategic. They want to rebuild markets carefully through gradually increasing volumes
of
higher quality fish, while also ensuring that decisions respect
the
management regime while it is under review.
In
Haida Gwaii and the Central Coast, commercial fishery openings
have
a high probability
of
onwater protest, which can
e
only partially mitigated
by
management actions to separate the aboriginal
Spawn
on Kelp (SOK) and roe herring fisheries. More progress on the Heiltsuk reconciliation process, the emerging Haida reconciliation talks and the development
of
ecosystem objectives
in
Gwaii Haanas
is
needed to
reduce
legal and management risks. The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council
has
expressed the view that
no
commercial roe herring fisheries occur
on
the west coast
of
Vancouver Island. They would only support food, Social and Ceremonial harvest as
wel1
as Spawn
on
Kelp economic harvest.· Furthennore, because
of
the recent decision
from
the
2013·502.00354-
RE..OPENING
STRATEGY FOR
TIIREE
MAJOR
HERRING STOC:< AREAS
••
./3
Lisa
Mijacika (604) 666-3637 Resource
Manager,
Pelagics
P.
Cowvillc/A. Willett/S.
LapointeJM.
Pemon/D. Gillis/K. Stringer
 
000589
3
Supreme
Court that confirms
the
rights
o
five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations (Ahousaht, Ehattesaht/Chinehkint, Hesquiaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht)
to
a commercial harvest, the Department may need
to
negotiate an agreement
to
accommodate this latest ruling.
While
there is some indication that the three closed
areas
are showing signs that the stock is rebuilding, the Department
would
like
to
see more evidence
o
a durable and sustained recovery before re-opening. Maintaining closures
in
these three areas for another year will allow time to: (I) advance progress on evaluation
o
he harvest
management
system; (2) develop appropriate strategies for rebuilding stocks
for
implementation
in 2015
including developing a
one
year solution
for
a Herring Stock Assessment project
(in
the absence
o
a Section
10
Use
o
Fish agreement);
and
(3) reduce risks associated with First Nation interests that could
involve
conflict on the fishing grounds and/or
legal
action.
This
one
year solution must be associated
with
the development
o
clear fisheries management
and
ecosystem objectives and with
the
relevant engagement with stakeholders
on
the development
o
an
affordable long-term solution
for
the monitoring and assessment
o
his resource.
RECOMMENDATION
Maintain a closure for the three areas for the
2014
fishing
season,
but signal commitment for the
following:
(1) Continue explore options
for
commercial Pacific herring licence fee reform; (2) Advance work under the sustainable fisheries
framework
t
renew the current management
framework; and
(3)
Signal
a commitment
by
the
Department
to
continue
to
work with industry to maintain the necessary science activities
on
a cost sharing basis)
in
support to the long-term sustainability
o
this
fishery.
Note that this will require a departmental
funding
strategy.
The
target date
for
release ofthe final draft
IFMP
for consultation
is
December
16,
2013.
A
meeting
with
your
staff
could
be
arranged
i
you
wish ~
Matthew King David
Jfci
Deputy Minister Associate Deputy Minister
ci cur
~ur
Gail Shea
Min
ister Minister's comments
2013-S02.. ) )JS4
 
RE-OPENING STRATEGY
FOR
THREE
~n
H~~~
r-_
.
ftj
~
f
Lise Mljacika (604) 666-3637 Re outee Manager, Pclagics
e/A~S
~inte MUf~U
 
Gillis ~

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