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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A comparative study of the demographic traits and exploitation patterns of coho salmon stocks from S.E. Vancouver Island, B.C. Labelle, Marc


An investigation was initiated in southern British Columbia during 1984 to determine the degree of similarity between populations of coho salmon, in terms of their demographic traits and exploitation patterns. Fourteen stocks of wild or hatchery origin were subject to coded-wire tagging in nine different streams located within a 150 km region of southeast Vancouver Island during 1985,1986, and 1987. Escapement enumeration and tag recovery were conducted during the 1985-1988 period in all streams by means of counting fences and stream surveys. A new mark-recapture model was formulated specifically for estimating escapement levels in natural streams where only a partial enumeration of spawners is possible. Estimates of the number of tags recovered in various sport and commercial fisheries were generated primarily on the basis of catch and sampling records extracted from the Mark-Recovery Program database, located at the Pacific Biological Station of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Estimates of sampling rates in the Strait of Georgia sport fishery were determined from simulation studies based on catch and sampling statistics associated with the Georgia Strait Creel Survey and Head Recovery programs. Populations were contrasted in terms of their juvenile migration patterns, smolt-to-adult survival, catch distributions, straying rates, escapement patterns, run composition, adult sizes, and exploitation rates. Considerable variation in smolt size and juvenile migration time was detected among populations each year. The most pronounced difference was the consistently shorter migration period of smolts released from public hatcheries. Estimates of ocean survival was highly variable across years and streams, and even among stocks within the same stream. No particular stock or stock type had consistently higher survival, but hatchery fish from the Big Qualicum River exhibited consistently lower survival. Considerable variation was observed in the duration and timing of various runs within the study area. On average, the contribution of strays to each spawning population was relatively small (< 2%), but strays could account for as much as 50% of the escapement to a given stream. Average exploitation rates were in the neighborhood of 80% each year, but were as high as 96% for some stocks. Substantial differences in exploitation rate were detected between stocks from the same stream, and between stocks from adjacent streams, but exploitation rates were not consistently higher or lower for any particular stock or stock type. The influence of specific factors upon straying rates, survival rates and exploitation patterns was estimated by means of log-linear models. Stock contributions to various fisheries appeared to be related to the release location, and two stock assemblages were identified within the study area based on the level of similarity among stocks in fishery contribution. Attempts to quantify the level of co-variation among stocks in survival and exploitation rates were hampered by the lack of sufficiently long time series of data, but preliminary results gave no indication of a high level of similarity among stocks or stock types. Still, it was possible to identify stocks which could be used as indicators of the general status of all stocks in the study area in terms of escapement trends, smolt-to-adult survival and exploitation rates. Based on the level of similarity observed, indicator stocks are considered to be useful stock-assessment tools, and can provide useful information for management purposes.

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