The Nass supports a valuable salmon fishery that provides annual sockeye catches worth around $10 million/year. In-season fisheries management improved significantly during the lead-up to the Nisga’a Treaty which was ratified in 2000. Run size estimation via mark-recapture in the Nisga’a fishwheels and the accurate Meziadin population assessment at the DFO fishway provides one of the best salmon stock assessment systems anywhere.
There is uncertainty about the status of small sockeye stocks in the Nass and additional efforts are required to monitor their abundance. This uncertainty could be addressed cost-effectively by DNA analysis carried out in conjunction with ongoing mark-recapture estimates of total run size. There is a need for an improved conservation strategy that protects weak sockeye salmon stocks that are harvested in contemporary fisheries.
Chinook, coho, pink and chum are not as highly genetically isolated as sockeye, and are relatively insensitive to harvesting impacts on stock biodiversity. Both Nass coho and chinook are well-managed as aggregate populations. There is a small population of pink salmon which is managed effectively as part of an Area 3 pink salmon stock aggregate. There are no directed fisheries for Nass River chum and the fish are captured incidentally in sockeye and pink fisheries. Chum salmon in Northern BC, including the Nass River, are declining regionally and their decline in the Nass is a source of serious concern.
–Excerpt from the report