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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).

Lippy Point sub-array deployed

The last of Kintama’s major sub-arrays was re-deployed May 15th!  Consisting of 44 Receivers, an increase from 24 in previous years, the “Lippy line” now extends 30 km (19 miles) off the coast to a depth of approximately 500 meters (1,650 feet) and is located off Lippy Point on Vancouver Island’s remote Northwest coast.  The redeployment primarily involved VEMCO VR3 Receivers upgraded with new firmware and replacement batteries after recovery last autumn.  Receivers were re-deployed with Kintama’s positioning systems (“float collars”) to precisely position and orient them in the water column and (in areas most susceptible to trawling), re-deployments used Kintama’s new trawler resistant Hex Float Collars which accepts both VR3s and the new VEMCO VR4.  More information on the new Float Collars can be found here.

Pictures of the deployment and surrounding scenery can be found in the Deployment Trips section of the Photo Gallery.

“For salmon, a deadly sea” – Globe and Mail article by Mark Hume

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, highlights Kintama’s latest paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Mark Hume, author of the news article, has been writing a series of articles in the Globe and Mail around salmon issues in British Columbia, why the Fraser River salmon return in 2009 was so poor, and the Cohen Commission (Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River). The Globe article can be found here, and a synopsis of the study highlighting the major findings can be found here.

New paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States

A new report published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences by Kintama’s staff (& 7 other co-authors) was released the week of May 9th, detailing the movements and survival of 4 species and 3,500 salmon smolts. A synopsis of the study highlighting the major findings can be found here.

Spring Field Operations – Array

Kintama has started the spring field season with several innovative new developments. First, outer coast arrays off the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and the West coast of Vancouver Island have been newly refurbished and are being extended off-shelf to waters up to half a kilometer deep (1650 feet). Extending these lines will test our refined deployment methods and work to establish the offshore limit of the juvenile Chinook salmon migration.

NSOG Sub-array Recovered and Re-Deployed

Kintama recovered 23 of POST’s permanent VR3 receivers from the Northern Strait of Georgia array. These units have been shipped to VEMCO for servicing and upgrading after nearly 5 years of continuous service in the sea. To ensure continuous coverage during the refurbishing period, Kintama deployed its custom fully recoverable acoustic VR2 receiver assemblies in the same locations, allowing the 2011 field season to operate without a reduction in efficiency.

New dual-frequency sub-array deployed

In collaboration with Dr Scott Hinch (UBC), Kintama has rolled out a 69/180 KHz dual frequency sub-array in the Fraser River, replacing our previous monitoring 69 KHz telemetry array. The system will be used to simultaneously measure the survival of V7 (69 KHz) and V6 (180 KHz) acoustically tagged Chilko Lake sockeye smolts and allowing a comparison of survival of smolts below the previous size threshold of 130mm for V7 tags. Funding for this project is funding provided by the Pacific Salmon Foundation