Fisheries Management

Nisga’a Fisheries Management Program

One of the healthiest river systems in the world, K’alii Aksim Lisims (the Nass) is the spawning grounds of five species of wild salmon, steelhead, and oolichan. NLG and Canada manage the Nass salmon fishery to preserve the resource, provide for Nisga’a citizens, and support a modern, sustainable fishing industry.

Facilitated through the Joint Fisheries Management Committee (comprised of representatives from Canada, British Columbia, and the Nisga’a Nation) the Nisga’a Fisheries Management Program (NFP) utilizes fish wheels and other technologies on the Nass River for salmon monitoring, tagging, and data collection, and conducts stock assessments on a variety of species throughout the Nass Area. NLG works with British Columbia to manage the non-salmon sport fishery.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Determine the status of Nass stocks.
  • Provide information required for better management.
  • Determine run size, timing and harvest rates.
  • Determine factors limiting production.
  • Provide training and employment for Nisga'a people.
  • Nisga'a Fisheries Management Program collaborates with researchers from around the world, including: Williams College, Massachusetts, USA; National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, Japan; Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game; Lhiet Li'ten First Nation; Yale First Nation; UBC Zoology; Pacific Biological Station, DFO, Nanaimo; BC Ministry of Environment.

The Nisga'a Fisheries Program has four main branches:

  • Fisheries Management
  • Stock Assessment
  • Habitat Assessment
  • Enhancement Fisheries Management

(In-season management)

  • In-season information is reliable and timely.
  • Joint planning and pre-season preparation is conducted with DFO.
  • Frequent in-season communication with DFO occurs through bi-weekly reporting.
  • Post-season reporting and reviews.

Harvest monitoring:

  • A systematic approach.
  • Co-operation of Nisga'a and recreational fishers.
  • Complete monitoring of both salmon and non-salmon species.

Escapement monitoring:

  • Daily mark recapture system using fish wheels.
  • 70 - 90% of the sockeye are counted at Meziadin fishway.
  • Chinook surveys for visual counts and mark recoveries.
  • Current escapement and catch estimates are some of the best on the coast.
  • Recorded substantial year-to-year variability in Chinook escapement.


  • Observe, Record Report Program (patrol vessel charters).
  • Fisheries Officer trainee working directly with DFO Fisheries Officers.
  • Training programs.

Stock Assessment

The focus of stock assessment is on sockeye, Chinook, coho and steelhead, pink and chum as well as non-salmon species. The fish wheels have provided the bulk of the assessment data for the salmon species. Radio-telemetry was used to develop and evaluate the mark-recapture system. Coho Key Streams Prior to 1992, there was no reliable information on Nass River coho. Now, Zolzap creek is providing data on Alaskan harvest, escapement, and harvest rates, and fish wheels are providing a minimum escapement of coho to the upper Nass River. Sockeye Lake Studies In an effort to understand the limits to production of the extremely valuable sockeye stocks of the Nass River, a number of studies have occurred. These include studies of limnology, zooplankton, nutrients, and juvenile abundance. Habitat Assessment The Kwinageese studies provided critical information on coho and sockeye. In addition, a test of an aerial video survey system was completed on Ishkheenickh (Hlginx River). Enhancement The Kincolith Hatchery represents the best opportunity for maintaining a Chinook key stream in the Nass Area. Currently, Chinook stocks are enhanced at this facility. Enhancement and stock assessment occur simultaneously at the Hatchery.

Annual Management Plan

See attached, the Harvest Management plan for the current fiscal year.

For more information, on Nisga'a Fisheries management programs and activities generally, see also the attached power point below.

You may also contact: Sim'oogit Sagaw'een Harry Nyce Sr. Director of Fisheries & Wildlife

Tel: 250 663 3000

Toll Free: 1 866 633 0888

Fax: 250 633 2367


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