Bycatch 22: Regulatory pressures of selective fishing on commercial salmon fishers and impacts of handling on chum salmon (Onchorhynchus keta) released from purse seine fisheries in Northern British Columbia. [graduate project].
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In Canadian Pacific salmon fisheries, a policy of selective fishing practices was introduced to reduce impacts on salmon populations of conservation concern while allowing fisheries to continue on species that can withstand fishery exploitation. The outcomes of this policy have resulted in fundamental changes in the operation of commercial salmon fisheries in British Columbia. Recently, concerns have been raised that noncompliance with selective fishing policies and handling regulations are resulting in higher post-release mortality of chum salmon than is sustainable for populations on the north coast of British Columbia. Fishery- or species-specific recommendations do not exist for handling practices in salmon purse seine fisheries, and social factors, such as stakeholders’ perceptions of regulations, can be determining factors in the success of conservation actions. In this project, I assess both biological and social factors of chum salmon bycatch handling and release in the commercial purse seine fishery on the north coast of British Columbia. Reflex action mortality predictors (RAMP) are used to assess the effects of air exposure and fishery handling on chum salmon and suggest that reducing air exposure time to below three minutes will maximize the condition of released fish. Interviews with fishermen, fishery managers, and members of non-governmental organizations on perspectives toward selective fishing regulations reveal that fishers attitudes towards these regulations are a primary determinant of compliance and that improved communication and feedback between management and resource users is needed to rebuild trust between stakeholders.