Low-Intensity, Low-Cost Management of Salmon Fisheries
- Milo Adkison, Fisheries Division, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks
- Justin Carney
Conventional in-season management of salmon fisheries use test fisheries, escapement surveys, and other types of intensive monitoring to determine catch openings and closings. These techniques are labor-intensive and expensive. Low-intensity management approaches, such as a regular schedule of fisheries openings, potentially could provide satisfactory escapements and harvests at a much lower cost, particularly for fisheries on stocks of low commercial value. Researchers in this study will examine the feasibility of fixed-schedule fishery openings as a cost-effective alternative to intensive in-season management methods.
Intensive in-season management of salmon fisheries, where fisheries are opened and closed based on frequent test fisheries, escapement surveys, and other types of monitoring, is labor-intensive and expensive and often inappropriate for low-value fisheries. Alternative management approaches, such as a regular schedule of fisheries openings, could provide satisfactory escapements and harvests at a much lower cost.
Why is this an Alaska Sea Grant project?
One of Alaska Sea Grant's six key goals outlined in the 2009–2013 Strategic Plan is sustained, well-managed, and healthy marine, coastal, and watershed ecosystems in Alaska. The program pursues this goal through support of research that provides decision-makers with science-based information that can be used to craft well-informed policies governing the use and conservation of Alaska's marine and coastal resources.
How will researchers conduct their study?
Researchers will develop a simulated commercial salmon fishery that applies a fixed fishing schedule to a fishery currently managed using intensive in-season monitoring such as test fishing, escapement, and other intensive monitoring techniques. Researchers will also develop a simulation that uses intensive monitoring to determine fishery openings applied to a fishery currently managed using a fixed openings schedule. Researchers will then compare the two approaches to see how harvests and escapements differ, and whether low-intensity management approaches are appropriate in some management scenarios.
Overall, this study will investigate how best to set a schedule of fixed fisheries openings. The study will use examples from current salmon fisheries, simulation studies, and retrospective analyses. The goal of the study is to provide a model for state fishery managers. Where appropriate—as in low-value, low-intensity fisheries or during budget crises—they could implement this approach, conserving scarce budgets and manpower. This project also will provide training for a quantitatively focused graduate student, to help address the shortage of trained personnel at management agencies.
Two candidate fisheries have been identified as the intensively managed case study: the sockeye salmon fisheries on the Egegik and Ugashik river stocks in Bristol Bay. Two candidate fisheries have been identified for the fixed schedule case study: the sockeye salmon fisheries on the Togiak and Goodnews river stocks in southwestern Alaska. All four fisheries have a long (greater than 30 years) time series of catch and escapement estimation.
Researchers will pursue a parallel study on a simulated stock that will allow investigation of the effect of several phenomena on performance of the management strategies. These phenomena include (1) length of residence of arriving fish on fishing grounds, (2) decrease in length of residence as season progresses, (3) a mix of a productive and unproductive stock in the fishery, (4) difference between two stocks in run timing and residence on the fishing ground, (5) climate-driven changes in stock productivity, (6) error in estimating the optimal escapement or optimal harvest rate, (7) error in implementation of each strategy, and (8)economically driven harvest limitations, either as low fishing effort in some years or a cap on the maximum daily catch within a year.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
This project seeks to develop a low-cost fixed schedule salmon fishery model that could be used by fishery managers where appropriate—such as in low-value, low-intensity fisheries. A fixed schedule model would help fishery managers conserve scarce budgets and personnel. In the event of future budget crises, this strategy also could provide a temporary strategy for fisheries that are currently managed using intensive methodologies.