The NCSFNSS coordinates, supports, and implements multiple projects. Through both the Marine Planning and Fisheries Programs, the NCSFNSS staff work towards increasing our understanding of the North Coast’s social and biological systems and building capacity within the communities to continue with monitoring and the conservation of marine resources.
Participation and Engagement in Salmon Management and Science
Salmon is of critical importance to the North Coast-Skeena First Nations, and for that reason, salmon is a focal point for the NCSFNSS fisheries program. Our office participates each year in the development of the North Coast Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) to ensure our communities’ concerns are voiced. We track season forecasts and management decisions prior to the start of the fishing season as well as in-‐season. Our office also participates in coast-‐wide initiatives, such as the Commercial Salmon Allocation Framework (CSAF) reform process to advocate for equitable economic access for our communities. We are involved in Skeena Salmon projects initiated by the Pacific Salmon Foundation, such as Skeena salmon benchmark analysis and watershed habitat assessment. During the salmon season, we conduct science projects such as fish health sampling, and Ecstall chum stock assessment (see below).
Skeena Eulachon catch monitoring survey
Skeena eulachon is a fish of high cultural and food value to the North Coast‐Skeena First Nations. NCSFNSS member Nations strive to better understand eulachon life history and ensure a sustainable food fishery. NCSFNSS coordinates a catch monitoring survey of the eulachon food fishery on the lower Skeena River to collect information on the harvest methods, timing, locations and amounts caught. The survey also monitors predation levels (i.e. seagulls, eagles, seals and sea lions) and river and weather conditions throughout the eulachon run. Bio-‐samples are taken of harvested eulachon to track fish size and sex ratio throughout the run.
Ecstall chum stock assessment
The Ecstall River is considered the largest chum spawning system in the Skeena watershed and has been identified as a priority system for gaining an accurate count, given that Skeena Chum is a stock of concern. The NCSFNSS has been conducting stock assessment field work through a sub‐contractor since 2013 in the upper reaches of the Ecstall river where Chum spawn, with the objective of finding the most reliable and consistent method of counting for Ecstall Chum.
Community field project initiative
The NCSFNSS provides technical support to its member and partner Nations in carrying out field projects selected by the communities. The NCSFNSS staff assist with the design, field work, analysis and reporting of projects.
In 2014, year 1 of the community field project initiative, clam surveys were conducted with Gitxaala First Nation to initiate stock assessment of clam beaches and develop a template for community harvest management planning.
Community Marine Use Planning Implementation Agreements
The member and partner Nations of the NCSFNSS are implementing components of their Marine Use Plans through Community Marine Use Planning Implementation Agreements; these are signed between the NCSFNSS and each Nation. The agreements contain provisions whereby financial resources are made available to the Nations in order to carry out specific duties identified in a detailed work plan developed jointly by the NCSFNSS and the Community Marine Use Planning Coordinators. Staff at the NCSFNSS supports the Nations’ work planning through the development of communications materials, through co-‐ leading committee meetings, and through project design and methodology development.
MaPP Implementation Agreements
MaPP partners are jointly working on the development of a Trust structure that will manage funds for MaPP implementation. Implementation support comes from both the public and private sectors and a comprehensive work plan will be agreed upon by all partners involved in the process. Implementation funding will provide opportunities for the member and partner Nations of the NCSFNSS to implement priority issues and marine resource initiatives at both the community and regional level.
In order to implement spatial components of Marine Use Plans, North Coast First Nations are partnering with other coastal First Nations and the Federal and Provincial governments on a Marine Protected Areas Network Strategy. MPA Networks have been established around the world as a means to bring governments, stakeholders, and marine users together at the decision making table and to support decision making for sustainable use of the marine environment through sound research, active dialogue, and negotiation. The goal of the Canada-‐British Columbia-‐First Nations MPA Network is to reach consensus on how marine resources can be used, what kind of protection is necessary for key marine values, and how we can continue to safeguard critical cultural resources of the people who call the coast home.
Canada and BC have been working collaboratively on this strategy since 2011 with First Nations officially partnering in 2014. Through a Marine Protected Areas Implementation Team, the partners will deliver a Pacific coast system of marine protection areas that will:
• Sustain healthy and productive marine environments;
• Meet shared conservation objectives;
• Support recreational and cultural heritage values; and
• Contribute to certainty for sustainable ocean use and development opportunities