Fraser River Salmon Fishery Assessment Upheld

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
13 July 2010, at 1:00am

CANADA - Onjections to the voluntary assessment of the British Columbian (BC), Fraser River sockeye salmon fisherys for MSC assessment were dismissed yesterday (12 June).

Independent Adjudicator (IA), Canadian maritime attorney Wylie Spicer, did not uphold the objections raised by the objecting parties.

The certifier will now submit the Final Certification Report to MSC recommending the fishery be certified. The fishery is not yet certified; however, it is anticipated that, following final internal MSC review of the documents, the certifier will issue a certificate and MSC will announce certification.

The MSC certification programne contains an objections procedure as a final step in the assessment to provide an orderly, structured, transparent and independent process for review of the certifier’s recommendation if stakeholders challenge the outcome.

In February, 2010, the David Suzuki Foundation, Skeena Wild Conservation Trust and Watershed Watch Salmon Society, filed an objection over the determination made by TAVEL Certification (now part of Moody Marine Ltd.) that the Fraser River salmon fishery should be certified. These local BC environmental organizations have been closely involved and contributing valuable input throughout the sockeye salmon assessment.

The Independent Adjudicator looks specifically at whether any errors were made by the certifier that would materially affect the outcome in reaching a decision about certification. The IA held a hearing in late May and subsequently reviewed materials submitted by the parties involved. The objections procedure does not re-assess a fishery. The findings are determined by the Independent Adjudicator on the basis of materials submitted with no involvement of the MSC.

The Fraser River area is one of four units of certification in the British Columbia (B.C.) sockeye salmon fishery that sought certification to the MSC standard. The other three units – Skeena River, Nass River and Barkley Sound – were not part of this objection procedure and recently successfully completed certification.

MSC certification is an assessment of the current sockeye management and a key tool for helping to ensure longer-term sustainability of the Fraser River fishery. The Fraser River certification includes 17 conditions that must be achieved by the fishery on specified timescales. Among other things, these require that the management agency provides:

  • clear commitment to implement recovery action plans for Cultus and Sakinaw sockeye;

  • evidence that First Nation issues regarding aboriginal and treaty rights have been identified and these issues are being addressed through an effective consultation or negotiation process; and

  • a research plan that addresses identified concerns related to the impact of the fishery on the ecosystem, with emphasis on non-target stocks, and takes into consideration socioeconomic factors and anticipated changes to fisheries.

The entire certification report and the conditions required to maintain certification, as well as the independent adjudicators findings, can be accessed online at:

Currently, 12 Canadian fisheries are certified to the MSC standard and 17 others are in the assessment process. In BC, certified fisheries include halibut, albacore tuna and the three units of sockeye salmon.