State of the Physical, Biological and Selected Fishery Resources of Pacific Canadian Marine Ecosystems in 2013
By R. Ian Perry (Ed.)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducts annual reviews of ocean and marine ecosystem conditions in Pacific Canadian waters and the broader North East Pacific. The workshop to review conditions during 2013 took place on 19 February 2014 at the Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada. Overall, 2013 appeared to be a year of transition in physical oceanographic conditions. It was dominated by cooler temperatures during the first half of the year then switched to warmer conditions during the second half of the year. By the end of 2013 and into early 2014, exceptionally warm and fresh conditions, and weak winds, were observed in the Gulf of Alaska, creating very strong vertical stratification. Warm conditions also occurred along the outer B.C. coast during the latter half of the year, making 2013 warmer on average than 2012. These warmer temperatures, along with weak winds, contributed to very weak downwelling conditions along the west coast of Vancouver Island at the end of 2013. Biological responses to these changing physical conditions were muted, likely due to time lags from physics to fish. More warm water zooplankton occurred during summer and fall 2013 along the west coast of Vancouver Island than earlier in the year. In contrast to recent years, Pacific Sardine were not observed during two summer surveys along the west coast of Vancouver Island, and there was no commercial fishery for Pacific Sardine in 2013, capping a 7 year decline in sardine abundance in B.C. A special highlight were the sightings of two different North Pacific Right whales along the outer B.C. coast in 2013, the first confirmed observations of these animals in B.C. waters in 62 years. Stocks of Sockeye Salmon that enter the ocean into the California Current Upwelling Domain continued to increase during 2009-2012. The total survival of Sockeye Salmon which enter the Strait of Georgia as young and return to the Fraser River as adults continued to remain average for most stocks in the 2011 ocean entry (2013 return) year. In addition, the marine survival of one year old Sockeye Salmon from Chilko Lake in the B.C. Interior has continued to improve from the lowest survival on record for this stock in the 2007 ocean entry year (2009 return year).
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