Species & Population Diversity in Pacific Salmon Fisheries
August 31, 2016


One of our associates, Holly Nesbitt, published an article on July 8, 2016 in the Journal of Applied Ecology with her former Master's supervisor, Dr. Jonathan Moore at SFU. The paper was covered in the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and CFAX1070 radio in Victoria.


The study shows that high biodiversity of salmon increases the consistency of catches from year-to-year and extends the season for fresh fish in First Nations fisheries on the Fraser River.


Instead of analyzing market returns of different financial portfolios, this study examined First Nations fisheries with different “salmon-folios”. Like a well-balanced financial portfolio that can smooth market fluctuations, fisheries that caught a more diverse portfolio of salmon populations and species were more stable through time.


Holly and Jonathan found that both hidden population diversity and, to a lesser extent, species diversity are positively linked to the consistency of catch and the length of the fishing season. In other words, fine-scale salmon diversity contributes to the security of indigenous fisheries. 


For this work, Holly analyzed 30 years of catch data from Fisheries and Oceans Canada from 21 different First Nations fisheries that span throughout the Fraser River watershed.


On one hand, this study illustrates how biodiversity can stabilize an increasingly volatile world. On the other hand, these findings also indicate that loss of fine-scale salmon biodiversity will erode the stability and contract the fishing season of fisheries that could be 100s of km downstream. 


If interested in learning more, Jonathan Moore's lab website has the paper PDF, pictures, and quotes, including reactions from political and First Nation leaders. Or click here for the paper online.