Comparison of catch reporting systems for commercial salmon fisheries in British Columbia

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For the year 2000 South Coast commercial fisheries, significant discrepancies were observed between the in-season catch estimates and post-season sales slip catch totals. Specifically, the preliminary data for sockeye salmon showed that the total sales slip catch was lower than the estimated in-season catch by 234,000 pieces (24%). This triggered an in-depth investigation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada of the major catch reporting programs (observer, logbook and sales slip) for the 2000 commercial sockeye fisheries. The goal was to quantify the full extent of the discrepancies and identify the sources of error.

The results showed that the absolute sales slip totals routinely underestimated the sockeye catch, compared to the observer and logbook catch estimates. As well, all species of salmon may show significant discrepancies between the expanded observer and expanded logbook catch estimates; these discrepancies tend to be more pronounced (up to 51%) for the less abundant, non-target species (chinook, coho, steelhead). Vessel reporting compliance was lowest for logbook mail-ins compared to phone-ins or sales slip submissions (606, 909 and 954 reporting vessels, respectively). Troll fisheries showed a marked delay in sales slip catch reporting compared to observer and logbook phone-in / mail-in reporting.

Sources of error for the various discrepancies included non-compliance, incomplete or biased reporting, misreporting, data misinterpretation, small sample size and inaccurate total fishing effort. The conversion of sales slip landed weights to pieces was also a concern due to possible serious under- or over-estimation of total pieces landed. Recommendations were made to improve the current catch reporting system for future fisheries.