Pacific Salmon Conservation Units, Sites & Status
A Conservation Unit (CU) is a group of wild Pacific salmon sufficiently isolated from other groups that, if extirpated, is very unlikely to recolonize naturally within an acceptable timeframe, such as a human lifetime or a specified number of salmon generations.
Holtby and Ciruna (2007) provided a framework for aggregating the five species of salmon (genus Oncorhynchus) found on Canada’s Pacific coast into species-specific CUs based on three primary characteristics: ecotypology, life history and genetics. The first stage in the description of the Conservation Units is based solely on ecology. The ecotypologies used in this framework include a combined characterization of both freshwater and near-shore marine environments, and is termed “joint adaptive zone”. The second stage of the description involves the use of life history, molecular genetics, and further ecological characterizations to group and partition the first stage units into the final Conservation Units. The result is CUs that are described through the joint application of all three axes. It is important to note that CUs are distinct from other aggregates of Pacific salmon, such as designatable units (DUs) under the Species at Risk Act or management units (MUs).
CU Counting Sites:
Salmon spawner enumeration data in the Pacific Region is stored and managed in the New Salmon Escapement Database (NuSEDS). The term “escapement” is used to refer to the group of mature salmon that have ‘escaped’ from various sources of exploitation, and returned to freshwater to spawn and reproduce. This data is assigned to a “Counting Site”, which may be a complete watercourse with a marine terminus, a tributary to a larger watercourse, or a defined reach within a watercourse that may or may not encompass the entire population but represents an index of the abundance of that population.
CUs form the basic unit for assessment under Canada’s Policy for the Conservation of Wild Salmon Policy (WSP) (DFO 2005). The biological status of a CU is evaluated using a number of metrics (Holt et al. 2009; Holt 2009), which indicate a WSP status zone: Red (poor status), Amber (marginal status), or Green (healthy status). A final step then incorporates all metric and status-related information into a final integrated status for each CU, along with expert commentary to support the final status determination (e.g., DFO 2012; DFO 2016). This information is used as inputs to fisheries management processes to help prioritize assessment activities and management actions.
Note: CU boundaries were reviewed in 2020-2021 and have been updated from the BC Freshwater Atlas 1:50,000 scale to the BC Freshwater Atlas 1:20,000 scale. The CU boundaries were last updated in March 2023. Please be aware that CUs may be reviewed and are subject to change without notice.
Please refer to Conservation Unit Review Requests-Form and Summary for a list of CU review requests that are ongoing or have been finalized.
- Publisher - Current Organization Name: Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- Licence: Open Government Licence - Canada
Data and Resources
Conservation Unit Review Requests – Form and SummaryXLSXEnglish French guide XLSX
Data DictionaryXLSXEnglish French guide XLSX
Reference InformationHTMLEnglish French guide HTML
Data DictionaryHTMLEnglish French guide HTML
Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) Conservation Units, Sites & StatusHTMLEnglish French dataset HTML
Southern British Columbia Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) Conservation Units, Sites & StatusHTMLEnglish French dataset HTML
Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) Conservation Units, Sites & StatusHTMLEnglish French dataset HTML
Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) Conservation Units, Sites & StatusHTMLEnglish French dataset HTML
Even Year Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) Conservation Units, Sites & StatusHTMLEnglish French dataset HTML
Odd Year Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) Conservation Units, Sites & StatusHTMLEnglish French dataset HTML
Lake Type Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) Conservation Units, Sites & StatusHTMLEnglish French dataset HTML
River Type Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) Conservation Units, Sites & StatusHTMLEnglish French dataset HTML
|Pacific Salmon Conservation Units, Sites & Status
Delivery Point: Pacific Biological Station, 3190 Hammond Bay Road
Administrative Area: British Columbia
Postal Code: V9T 6N7
Electronic Mail Address: Bruce.Baxter@dfo-mpo.gc.ca