Technical Reports

The Commission is engaging scientists to report on the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon.

The technical reports will not necessarily represent the views of the Commissioner but are intended to inform the Commissioner’s deliberations. The Commissioner may consider the technical reports to make findings of fact and recommendations.

Once finalized and reviewed by the Commission, technical reports will be published here. Members of the public who wish to comment on a technical report may do so in the form of a public submission. To make a public submission, please visit the Public Submissions page.

Technical Reports and researchers

Executive summaries of the technical reports will be posted as they are tabled in the courtroom. Full reports will be available before the conclusion of evidentiary hearings.

Project 1 – Diseases and parasites

A veterinary scientist will take a broad view of sockeye diseases and parasites that span the life cycle from egg to adult, and will evaluate the full spectrum of diseases that occur at all life history stages.


Dr. Michael Kent is a Professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University where he studies diseases of importance to wild and cultured fishes. He has previously worked in aquaculture, veterinary medicine, fish health and genetics. His current interests and areas of study are the pathological and physiological effects of transcontinental air pollution on salmonid fishes in high mountain lakes in U.S. National Parks as well as the impacts of parasites on wild coho salmon from coastal watersheds in Oregon.

Project 1A – Hatchery Disease Impact Assessment

This project will evaluate the potential impacts of hatchery and spawning channel disease occurrence and frequency to determine their role in the reductions in Fraser sockeye productivity. If deemed feasible by the Commission, the researchers will evaluate the role of hatchery diseases in the 2009 run failure as well as the longer term decline in Fraser sockeye productivity over the past 20 years.

Company: Centre for Coastal Health

The Centre for Coastal Health (CCH) is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to identify and understand the interactions of human, animal and environmental health. This is accomplished by undertaking problem-oriented research, risk assessments, research planning, policy development, field investigations, program evaluations, and education. CCH provides objective solutions to health issues and does not take advocacy positions. Scientists from CCH have considerable experience evaluating fish disease in Pacific salmon populations.

CCH Researchers:

Dr. Craig Stephens is a Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary, Clinical Professor at the School of Population and Public Health, University of BC, and President and Director of the Centre for Coastal Health. He has undertaken numerous research projects and risk assessments related to infectious diseases in wild and cultured fish populations.

Dr.Tyler Stitt is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with previous academic training and degrees from Vancouver Island University, University of Saskatchewan, James Cook University (Australia) and Western College of Veterinary Medicine (Saskatchewan). At the CCH he undertakes problem-oriented research, risk assessments, research planning, policy development, field investigations and education to identify and understand the interactions of human, animal and environmental health.

Jennifer Dawson-Coates has an MA in Environmental Management from Royal Roads University. At CCH she works as a technical researcher for environmental, wildlife and public health related projects. She previously participated in a project that determined risk assessment expectations and options for prospective fish health studies.

Project 2 – Effects of contaminants on Fraser River sockeye salmon

The researcher will prepare an inventory of aquatic contaminants in the Fraser River in relation to the distribution of sockeye Conservation units. This will include an evaluation of pulp mill effluent contaminants, non-point source contaminants, endocrine disruptors and other contaminants, including sewage discharges from the Lower Mainland and other urban centres in the Fraser Watershed.


Don MacDonald earned a Bachelor of Science in Zoology while attending UBC and formed MacDonald Environmental Sciences Limited (MESL) in 1989 offering consulting services related to the assessment and management of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and is internationally recognized as an industry leader in three primary fields of practice: environmental impact assessment, natural resource damage assessment, and ecological risk assessment. Mr. MacDonald has scientific expertise in the fields of environmental chemistry, fishery/forestry interactions, water quality/water use interactions, sediment quality assessment, environmental quality guidelines, ecosystem-based management, ecological risk assessment, and natural resource damage assessments.

Project 3 – Evaluating the Status of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon and Role of Freshwater Ecology in their Decline

The researcher will investigate several aspects of Fraser sockeye ecology, including the status of sockeye Conservation Units, a review of industrial and urban impacts on freshwater ecology and salmon life history, and an expert assessment of potential impacts from industrial and urban activities on Fraser River sockeye during the past 30 years.

Company: ESSA Technologies Ltd. is an independent Canadian environmental consulting company headquartered in Vancouver with offices in Toronto and Ottawa and staff in Victoria and Hanoi, Vietnam. Established in 1979, ESSA has grown to become a world leader in the field of environmental consulting and decision support. The team at ESSA have expertise in terrestrial ecosystem sciences and ecological modelling, adaptive management, decision analysis, and environmental information systems.

ESSA Researchers:

  • David Marmorek is an aquatic ecologist, President of ESSA Technologies Ltd, and an Adjunct Professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. Mr. Marmorek has spent the last three decades focusing on developing tools to predict, manage and monitor the impacts of human actions on fish populations and their ecosystems, including such stressors as acid rain, forestry, dams, agriculture, fishing and industrial pollution.

  • Katherine Wieckowski a systems ecologist with ESSA, is an analyst with six years of experience in resource management, focusing on fisheries and marine related issues. Ms. Wieckowski has been involved in a range of research projects at ESSA including monitoring program design, data synthesis and analysis, literature review, simulation modelling, program evaluation, and policy implementation. Ms. Wieckowski earned a B.Sc. in Biology at McGill University and a Master of Resource Management in Fisheries Science at Simon Fraser University.

  • Darcy Pickard is a senior statistician and systems ecologist with ESSA Technologies, Ltd. She has a B.Sc. and a M.Sc. in statistics from Simon Fraser University. Her recent projects have included: review and guidance for Wildlife Habitat Area effectiveness monitoring in BC; development of the sampling framework for the Trinity River Restoration Program in California; development of a monitoring design framework for Fisheries Sensitive Watersheds in B.C.; a simulation study to evaluate alternative monitoring plans for salmonids in the Columbia River Basin; and an indicator framework to assess the overall watershed health (ecological and socio-economic) in the Sacramento River watershed.

  • Clint Alexander is an integration specialist focused on decision and trade-off analysis methods for aquatic resource management problems. His areas of expertise include: decision and trade-off analysis, simulation modelling, technical facilitation, information system architecture and project management. He holds a B.Sc. in Ecology from the University of British Columbia and a Masters in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University.

  • Lorne Greig is a senior systems ecologist and leader of ESSA’s Environmental Management Team. Since joining ESSA in 1982, Lorne’s consulting practice has focused on developing evidence-based approaches to environmental management through support of adaptive management research designs, and environmental risk analysis. Ecological modeling is an essential component of this work. Examples of some of Lorne’s recent experience include: a conceptual ecosystem model of the Lake Ontario fish community; a model-based management approach to the Sea Lamprey control program in the Great Lakes; decision analyses for American eel in the Great Lakes; Pathways of Effects models for Fisheries and Oceans Canada; and advice to the Mackenzie Gas Project Joint Review Panel on matters related to cumulative impact assessment.

  • Marc Nelitz is currently a systems ecologist with the environmental management team at ESSA and is also a registered Professional Biologist with British Columbia College of Applied Biology. Mr. Nelitz has a B.Sc. in Ecology and Environmental Biology from UBC and a master of Resource Management from SFU. His current and past research includes evaluating the vulnerability of freshwater fish to climate change, helping Pacific salmon survive the impacts of climate change on freshwater habitats and ecosystem based management.

Project 4 – Marine ecology

The researcher will review the marine ecology of Fraser River sockeye salmon to determine whether there are oceanographic factors that can explain the reduction in short-term and long-term Fraser sockeye productivity.

Company: PICES

The North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) is an intergovernmental scientific organization, established in 1992, whose present members are Canada, Japan, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States. The purposes of PICES are to promote and coordinate marine research in the northern North Pacific and adjacent seas; to advance scientific knowledge about the ocean environment, global weather and climate change, living resources and their ecosystems, and the impacts of human activities and to promote the collection and rapid exchange of scientific information on these issues.

Members of the PICES Team on this project will include:

  • Dr. Skip McKinnell is the Team Leader and Deputy Executive Secretary within PICES. He graduated from the University of Victoria with a B.Sc Biology and received a Ph.D from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He has experience working in fisheries production and variability as well as ecosystem effects of large-scale Asian driftnet fisheries through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

  • Dr. Enrique Curchitser is an oceanographer based at Rutgers University. His main interests are the intersection of climate and ecosystems, regional climate impacts and numerical modeling. His current projects range from understanding the role of eastern boundary currents in the global climate system to downscaling climate scenarios in the Bering Sea to trying to understand the low-frequency fluctuations in the global sardine populations.

  • Dr. Masahide Kaeriyama is a salmon biologist and comes from the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Fisheries in Japan. His areas of study have been on the effects of climate change on the growth of Japanese chum salmon, sustainable conservation and management of Pacific salmon and in salmon migration.

  • Dr. Kees Groot studied biology at the Universities of Amsterdam and Leyden, receiving his master’s and PhD In the past, his studies have centered on problems of Pacific salmon migration, problems related to salmonid enhancement, and on the potential effects of global climate change on Canada’s west coast fisheries resources

  • Dr. Katherine West Myers is the Principal Research Scientist University of Washington’s High Seas Salmon Research Program. She has both her masters and PhD in fisheries sciences. Her research includes increasing scientific knowledge of the biology and ecology of Pacific salmon and steelhead trout in the open ocean of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea through retrospective, field, laboratory, and computer modeling research in cooperation with other scientists in Canada, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States.

Project 5

The researchers will evaluate the linkage between salmon farm operations and Fraser sockeye spawning returns, if any. This research will consider the impact on Fraser sockeye of sea lice exposure, farm wastes that affect benthic and pelagic habitat quality, Atlantic salmon escapees, and disease.


  • Dr. Lawrence Dill is a Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University with over 40 years experience in biological sciences. Dr. Dill’s research is on behavioural ecology, specifically the effect of predation risk on foraging and habitat selection behaviours and the influence of adaptive decision making by individuals on population and community characteristics. He served on the BC Pacific Science Forum scientific advisory committee, and co-authored the WWF Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue report on sea lice. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

  • Dr. Josh Korman is a fisheries ecologist with Ecometric Research Inc. who holds both a PhD in Zoology and a Master’s of Science in Biological Oceanography from the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on evaluating effects of flow regulation on salmonid populations in rivers downstream of hydro-electric dams, and in the statistical analysis of fisheries data and fisheries stock assessment.

  • Dr. Donald James Noakes is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Thompson Rivers University. Dr. Noakes has almost 20 years experience working in biological sciences with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. He has also served on and provided leadership to a number of fisheries science organizations including the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, the Science Council of British Columbia’s Fisheries Renewal BC Science Review Panel, and the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Committee. Dr. Noakes’ current research interests include studying the effects of climate change on marine fish populations, early marine survival of Pacific salmon, and socio-economic aspects of natural resource management.

  • Brendan Connors is currently a PhD candidate in ecology at Simon Fraser University. His current research involves disease-mediated interactions between wild and farmed salmon, and the ecology and evolution of Pacific salmonids and host-parasite systems.

Project 5A – Summary of Information for Evaluating Impacts of Salmon Farms on Survival of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon

Executive Summary PDF Document | Full Report PDF Document | Errata PDF Document

Project 5B – Examination of relationships between salmon aquaculture and sockeye salmon population dynamics

Executive Summary PDF Document | Full Report PDF Document | Errata PDF Document

Project 5C – Impacts of salmon farms on Fraser River sockeye salmon: Results of the Noakes investigation

Executive Summary PDF Document | Full Report PDF Document | Errata PDF Document

Project 5D – Impacts of salmon farms on Fraser River sockeye salmon: Results of the Dill investigation

Executive Summary PDF Document | Full Report PDF Document

Project 6 – Data synthesis and cumulative impact analysis

The researcher will synthesize information contained in the other contractors’ technical reports, to address cumulative effects and to evaluate possible causes for the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Company: ESSA Technologies Ltd. is an independent Canadian environmental consulting company headquartered in Vancouver with offices in Toronto and Ottawa and staff in Victoria and Hanoi, Vietnam. Established in 1979, ESSA has grown to become a world leader in the field of environmental consulting and decision support. The team at ESSA have expertise in terrestrial ecosystem sciences and ecological modelling, adaptive management, decision analysis, and environmental information systems.

(Please see Project 3 for detailed description of researchers)

Project 7 – Fraser River sockeye fisheries and fisheries management

The researcher will investigate Fraser River sockeye fisheries harvesting (First Nations, commercial and recreational) and fisheries management (pre-season forecasting, in-season and post-season run-size abundance estimation methods and escapement enumeration methods), will analyze historical performance of the in-season assessment process, will evaluate the scientific basis for determining escapement targets, will evaluate the extent and impact of any over-harvesting since 1985, and will summarize the current conservation status of the Cultus Lake sockeye population.

Company: LGL Limited is one of North America’s leading ecological research companies with expertise in a broad range of disciplines, such as birds, mammals (terrestrial and marine), reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates; freshwater, marine, terrestrial and wetland ecology; habitat assessment, disturbance effects; environmental assessment; ecological restoration; monitoring; geology; environmental planning; GIS and data analysis.

Researchers from LGL:

  • Karl K. English (team leader), is LGL’s senior fisheries scientist, and past president. He has 29 years of professional experience working with LGL Limited on Pacific salmon fisheries. He has spent most of his career designing and implementing studies to improve the quality and quantity of information available for the management and assessment of Pacific salmon and steelhead stocks. He is very familiar with the biology and management of Fraser sockeye through his work on run reconstruction analysis, Treaty negotiations and on-going studies of the migration and survival of sockeye from marine fisheries to spawning areas throughout the Fraser watershed.

  • Robert C. Bocking is a fisheries biologist, and Vice-President (Fisheries) for LGL Limited. Mr. Bocking, has 22 years of experience as a fisheries biologist and has worked throughout BC on salmon stocks assessment, fisheries management and treaty negotiations. He also extensive experience working with First Nations governments.

  • Dr. Tim C. Edgell is an ecologist and analytical biologist. His studies include population ecology, species’ adaptation and fitness (survivorship and reproduction), aquatic ecology, invasive species, endangered species management, and study design and analysis. Recently, Dr. Edgell has been involved in multiple projects about Pacific salmon ecology, including Fraser River sockeye salmon run modelling and within-season tracking of the 2009 Fraser sockeye run to assess potential migration interruption during Port Mann Bridge construction.

Project 8 – Effects of predators on Fraser River sockeye salmon

The researchers will prepare a description of predation on sockeye salmon across the geographical range of the population, focusing on marine mammal predation on adults and smolts. The contractor will also evaluate freshwater fish predation on alevins, fry and smolts, and marine fish predation on smolts, sub-adults and adults.


Dr. Andrew Trites is a Professor and Director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia (UBC), and Research Director for the North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium, Fisheries Centre, UBC. His main area of research is the interaction between marine mammals and commercial fisheries. This includes the population biology and bioenergetics of seals, sea lions and whales, and involves a combination of field, captive and computer studies (data analysis and simulation modeling).

Dr. Villy Christensen is Associate Professor at the UBC Fisheries Centre. He works with ecosystem-based management and has a background in fisheries research. His research since 1990 has centered on understanding how human exploitation impacts marine ecosystems, and utilizes ecosystem modeling as the main tool. Dr. Christensen is a specialist on predator-prey interactions and dynamics, and is the key developer of the Ecopath with Ecosim food web modeling approach, which is the most-widely ecosystem modeling approach for fisheries management throughout the world.

Project 9 – Effects of climate change on Fraser River sockeye salmon

The researchers will compile and review all published evidence for climate change and climate-related effects on sockeye salmon in freshwater and marine habitats across all life stages, looking specifically for evidence of the effects of climate-related variables such as temperature, flow, salinity, pH, currents, primary productivity and species interactions on Fraser River sockeye survival, behavior and distribution.


Scott Hinch graduated from the University of Toronto and now currently teaches aquatic ecology, salmon biology and fish conservation at the University of British Columbia. For over a decade, Professor Hinch has investigated hypotheses about the role that environmental conditions have on energy utilization strategies in up-river migrating and spawning salmon. He pioneered the use of electromyogram (EMG) physiological telemetry to study reach-specific energetic costs and observe swimming tactics, and developed under water stereovideographic systems to examine precise linkages between behaviour, hydraulic features and energy use.

His current topics of research include adult salmon migration survival, behaviour, energetics, physiology, habitat use, environmental cues; long term field experiments examining riparian timber harvest effects on stream temperature and habitat, fish abundance, growth, energetics, movements, and habitat use.

Dr. Eduardo Martins is a post-doctoral fellow in UBC’s Department of Forest Sciences. He was senior author of a report on the effects of river temperature and climate warming on stock-specific survival of adult migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon. He recently attended the International Symposium on Climate Change Effects on Fish and Fisheries in Sendai, Japan where he delivered a paper on effects of river temperature and climate warming on Fraser sockeye.

Project 10 – Fraser River sockeye salmon production dynamics

The researchers will, to the extent possible, undertake basic statistical analyses of abundance and productivity by Conservation Unit; will review previous research and data on sockeye cyclic dominance, including Fraser and non-Fraser sockeye populations (including a review of the relationship between sockeye run failures and timing of sockeye cyclic dominant runs); and will summarize the frequency and effects of over-escapement on subsequent productivity and abundance of adult recruits.


Dr. Randall Peterman is a Professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Fisheries Risk Assessment and Management and is Director of the Cooperative Resource Management Institute, a unit on campus that facilitates collaboration among university researchers, resource management agencies, and industry.

His research focuses on quantitative methods to improve the understanding and management of fish populations, particularly in the presence of uncertainties and conservation risks. His research group specializes in developing and applying quantitative methods to improve fisheries management.

Dr. Brigitte Dorner has a M.Sc. in Computing Science at Simon Fraser University in 1994, and a Ph.D. in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University in 2002. She works as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Peterman, in dynamics and management of Pacific salmon, including comparative analysis of time trends in salmon productivity. Her areas of specialty include salmon ecology, fisheries management, operating models, management strategy evaluation, landscape ecology, forest ecology, spatial statistics, spatial modeling, GIS, and remote sensing.

Project 11 – Fraser River sockeye salmon: status of DFO science and management

The researchers will prepare an analysis, including an economic analysis, of DFO activities in Fraser River sockeye management since 1985; will present DFO science and research expenditures related to Fraser sockeye since 1985; and will undertake an analysis to evaluate DFO’s ability to meet its stated management objectives relative to Fraser sockeye since 1985.


Dr. Edwin Blewett is the President of Counterpoint Consulting Inc, and holds a PhD in economics from the University of British Columbia where he specialized in econometrics and statistics, public finance and microeconomic theory.

Bert Ionson is a retired Salmon Manager from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Bert has had experience working with First Nations and commercial and recreational fishermen in the planning and management of their fisheries as well as developers and landowners in fish habitat related issues. He has also developed and implemented fisheries policies, which were mostly focused on salmon.

Michael Staley has served as a fisheries advisor to various Aboriginal groups including the B.C. Aboriginal Fisheries Commission, the First Nations Summit Task Groups, the Fraser River Aboriginal Fisheries Secretariat and the First Nations Marine Society. He has been responsible for fisheries analyses and advice to First Nations throughout British Columbia. Since 1995, he has served as a member of the Fraser Panel Technical Committee of the Pacific Salmon Commission.

Project 12 – Fraser River Sockeye Habitat Use in the Lower Fraser and Strait of Georgia

This technical report, is a compilation, analysis and summary of available information to document the status and current issues between Fraser sockeye salmon habitats and potential impacts from human activities in the Lower Fraser River (below Hope) and the Strait of Georgia. The researcher will prepare a habitat inventory for sockeye habitats in the Lower Fraser River (below Hope) and Strait of Georgia and identify human activities that could affect them.

Company: Golder Associates is a respected, employee-owned, global company providing consulting, design, and construction services in the areas of earth, environment, and the related areas of energy. From 160 offices worldwide, Golder’s nearly 7,000 employees work with clients to manage their environmental and engineering activities in a technically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible manner. The Canadian operations, Golder Associates Ltd., has over 2,600 employees in over 30 offices. In British Columbia, Golder Associates has 11 offices staffed by over 600 people.

Golder Researchers:

  • Dr. Mark Johannes is a Fisheries Biologist, Environmental Assessment Specialist, and Associate based in Golder Associates’ Greater Vancouver office. He has more than 25 years of experience working on environmental and fisheries assessments and habitat restoration projects. Dr. Johannes has worked as a federal fisheries scientist and recently served as fisheries advisor to the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. He has assisted First Nations, government and industry across BC and the Yukon in a variety of roles and projects, including completing detailed fisheries habitat inventories and restoration projects. He has also worked with federal and provincial agencies on resource planning and fisheries and habitat policy – strategies. Dr. Johannes continues to teach fisheries restoration at the University of Victoria, and currently has graduate students working in this area.

  • Lee Nikl is a Senior Environmental Scientist and Principal in Golder’s Greater Vancouver office. Lee has more than 21 years of professional experience and specializes in projects in, on, or next to water, and is responsible for managing, directing, and undertaking projects related to environmental impact assessment, contaminated sediment risk assessment, aquatic habitat management, biosecurity, dredging, and dredged material management. Before entering the private sector, Mr. Nikl worked for 12 years with Fisheries and Oceans Canada as a regulator, where he developed fisheries habitat and sediment management strategies.

  • Rob Hoogendoorn is a fisheries biologist in Golder Associates’ Greater Vancouver office. Mr. Hoogendoorn has over 12 years of professional experience in the environmental assessment discipline, specializing in fisheries and aquatic biology.

  • Roxanne Scott is a socio-economist and sustainability specialist with Golder’s Greater Vancouver office, and a member of Golder’s corporate sustainability team. Ms. Scott has over 17 years of Canadian and international experience in socio-economic assessment, economic modeling, community development planning, public and First Nations consultation, mainly for the infrastructure, power and extractive resource sectors.