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David Welch awarded the J. P. Tully Medal in Oceanography for 2011

David Welch, president of Kintama, has been awarded the J. P. Tully Medal in Oceanography for 2011. The award was presented at the Awards Banquet held on 31 May 2012 during the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society’s (CMOS) Congress in Montreal, Quebec.

The award consists of a medal and a certificate with the following citation:

“To David Welch of Kintama Research Services, Ltd, for his three decades of research dedicated to understanding the sea life of salmon using innovative data-gathering techniques with special reference to acoustic arrays. The resulting data have been correlated with oceanographic conditions and climate change to obtain a much deeper understanding of how the two sciences of fisheries and oceanography are synthesized as a single discipline of Fisheries Oceanography. He has been the leader of a major initiative to track a wide variety of fish species’ movements around the Pacific, the Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking (POST) program. This program has provided a core research platform for a wide range of scientists to address questions concerning fish movement and survival that would be otherwise prohibitively expensive for one researcher to undertake alone.”

More information, past recipients, and history of the award itself can be found here.

CBC Radio interview on TEFFS project (February 7, 2012)

CBC Radio interviewed Kintama on the proposed project TEFFS (Testing the Effect of Fish Farms on Salmon Survival). Click here to hear David Welch’s explanation of the TEFFS project and how it can provide needed answers on BC’s Fish Farm controversy for both sides of the argument.

Kintama’s TEFFS proposal profiled in Globe & Mail

The Globe & Mail recently profiled Kintama’s new proposal (“TEFFS”) to directly test whether exposure to fish farms reduces survival of young salmon. TEFFS (Testing the Effect of Fish Farms on Salmon Survival) is a large-scale research initiative led by Kintama which will involve a collaboration amongst a substantial number of leading British Columbia researchers. The study should provide a major step forward in understanding whether or not fish farm exposure is reducing the survival of wild salmon. The article can be accessed here while more information on the proposal can be found here.

SFU think tank – Managing for Uncertainty: Pathogens and Diseases in Pacific Salmon

As part of Simon Fraser University’s Speaking for the Salmon series, an Invitational Scientist’s Think Tank was held to discuss disease organisms and salmon health on November 30 and December 1, 2011. Kintama participated along with about 25 other invited local and International scientists. Following the meeting, the group released a consensus statement that highlighted key points, barriers, and opportunities for illuminating the role of disease organisms in wild salmon populations.

“Combining modern methods, such as molecular assays and telemetry, with classic pathology, on-the-ground population monitoring and large-scale experiments can provide the needed insight into the risk factors associated with disease in wild fish. It is time to develop new collaborative and independent infrastructures for addressing these challenges” stated the release.

Kintama agrees wholeheartedly. Working with collaborators from UBC, SFU, and government agencies, Kintama has developed a proposal for rigorously testing the effects of fish farms on salmon survival (TEFFS) using acoustic telemetry. Dr. David Welch, President of Kintama Research adds, “We have excellent support within the science community for TEFFS and are in the process of acquiring financial backing for the project. This study will go a long way to answering whether farms actually effect salmon survival or not”.

More information on the meeting can be found here along with a separate document highlighting the group’s recommendations. More information on TEFFS and the draft proposal can be found here.

Important findings from the 2011 Columbia River Chinook salmon survival study

Kintama has released preliminary results from the 2011 study: Estuarine and Early Marine Survival and Movements of Yearling Chinook Salmon funded by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Kintama’s Research Manager, Dr. Erin Rechisky, presented the results at the Anadromous Fish Evaluation Program (AFEP) forum on December 1, 2011. The study included tagging of approximately 800 Chinook yearlings, a portion of these were captured at the Lower Granite Dam and then transported to below Bonneville Dam, and another portion was collected, tagged, and released at the Bonneville Dam. DNA samples were collected from each fish to ascertain stock origin. The major findings, some expected and some not so, included:

  • Yearling Chinook smolts migrate north upon ocean entry more than 95% of the fish detected in the ocean were detected on our acoustic sub-array north of the Columbia River mouth
  • Smolts migrate farther offshore at Willapa Bay, WA, but are closer to shore off of Lippy Point, BC
  • Smolt survival in the lower Columbia River and estuary was high, while survival in the coastal ocean and particularly the plume, was lower.
  • Post-Bonneville Dam survival was similar for Snake River and Columbia River yearling Chinook tagged and released at Bonneville Dam. We found no evidence of delayed mortality for smolts migrating through Snake River dams
  • Post-Bonneville survival in the lower Columbia River and estuary was similar for Run Of River and Transported Snake River yearling Chinook

Kintama Research findings presented at AFEP forum

Kintama’s Research Manager, Dr. Erin Rechisky, attended the Anadromous Fish Evaluation Program (AFEP) forum on December 1, 2011 and presented Kintama’s work in the Columbia River and along the West Coast of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.  The talk, “2011 COAST Study: Estuarine and Early Marine Survival and Movements of Yearling Chinook Salmon“, reported the Chinook smolt distribution on the coastal array, as well as survival rates, travel time of the fish, and visualizations.

The Anadromous Fish Evaluation Program (AFEP) forum is held each year by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  The main purpose of AFEP is to produce scientific information to assist the Corps in making informed engineering, design, and operational decisions for the eight mainstem Columbia and Snake River projects in order to provide safe, efficient passage through the mainstem migration corridor.

David Welch speaking at American Fisheries Society 2011 Conference

David Welch spoke at the American Fisheries Society conference in Seattle on Thursday September 8 at 2:30pm. His talk, “When is Recruitment Determined in the Marine Life History of Salmon? — Current Evidence From the POST Array” discussed the following:

Large-scale declines in marine survival of many Pacific salmon populations occurred over the last three decades. We examined when in the life history this mortality was expressed using the POST prototype array.

We first compared the size at tagging of released smolts and of the survivors at distant marine array locations, hundreds of kilometers away from the release site and requiring ≥1 month travel time. The mean, variance, and higher order moments of the size-frequency distribution was equivalent for each species examined (sockeye, steelhead, chinook, & coho). This indicates that mortality processes did not substantially distort the size distribution of survivors and that larger smolts did not survive better than smaller smolts above our pre-specified minimum size thresholds for surgical implantation (130 mm & 140 mm for Vemco V7 & V9 tags). We also found that survival to adult return of acoustically tagged Fraser River sockeye and Snake River spring Chinook smolts matched that of the overall (untagged) run in at least some years of tagging. As surgical implantation of acoustic tags does not therefore substantially reduce smolt survival after release, it is possible to calculate how much of the overall mortality is expressed in the first 1~2 months after release and how much afterwards; the results indicate that total mortality still to occur after the first 1 month of life in the sea equals or exceeds that occurring to that time. Thus events later in the life history still have the potential to determine much of the declining marine survival of the salmon stocks we have examined.

David Welch testifies at Cohen Commission

David Welch testified at the Cohen Commission (Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River) for two and half days in early July. A transcript of the testimony can be found here.

David Welch speaks at the International Conference on Fish Telemetry, Sapporo Japan

David Welch spoke at the 1st International Conference on Fish Telemetry in Sopporo Japan on the 13th of June. The conference attracted scientists from around the world including Norway, Australia, Sweden, USA, UK, Germany, Denmark, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, Italy, Spain, and of course Canada. The purpose of the conference was to present the most updated research data on fish telemetry, and to promote and exchange the knowledge and experience among scientists and technicians who use telemetry in aquatic ecosystems. Dr. Welch’s talk, “Design & Operation Of Large-Scale Marine Telemetry Arrays for Improved Fisheries Science – Making Ocean Measurements Cost-Effective & Policy Relevant” addressed the design of efficient & cost-effective telemetry arrays.

Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) deploys Halifax Line with VR3/4 Float Collars

On March 28 and 29, 2011, the OTN deployment team in collaboration with personnel from Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography and Acadia University extended OTN’s Halifax Line to 72 receiver stations, from just 37, an additional
distance of almost 30 km. The Halifax Line, now extending almost 60 km offshore deployed 5 of the receiver stations using Kintama Float Collars. Consisting of a mix of VEMCO VR2, VR3 and VR4 receivers, the Halifax line is planned for more than 200 stations overall with nearly half of those stations being deployed with Kintama Float Collars later this year. More information on OTN’s Halifax Line can be found here, and a video showing a sampling of the deployments (with some groovy East Coast music accompanying it).