Coastal commercial fisheries targeting Pacific salmon inevitably capture a mix of co-migrating species and genetically distinct populations within each species, only some of which are sufficiently abundant to sustain exploitation. Species-specific release measures are implemented as a conservation measure, but there remains little understanding of the resulting mortality. A purse seine fishery for Pacific salmon in British Columbia, Canada, was simulated with the goal of estimating post-release mortality for coho salmon, a species commonly released from commercial fisheries. Landed coho salmon (n = 220) were tagged with acoustic transmitters and tracked along their coastal approach and into freshwater. Survival analyses accounting for variable migration pathways among populations revealed population-specific survival, with the population of greatest conservation concern having the best survival. Condition assessments revealed scale loss to be the strongest predictor of success. Physically exhausted fish, identified via reflex impairment tests, also experienced higher mortality. Results highlight the complexity of estimating release mortality in mixed-population commercial fisheries and are discussed in the context of management implications.

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Keywords Bycatch, Coho salmon, Commercial fisheries, Fish populations, Fraser River, Pacific salmon, Purse seine, Release mortality, Scale loss, Telemetry
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Journal ICES Journal of Marine Science
Cook, K.V. (Katrina V.), Hinch, S.G. (Scott G.), Drenner, S.M. (S. Matthew), Halfyard, E.A. (Edmund A.), Raby, G.D. (Graham D.), & Cooke, S.J. (2018). Population-specific mortality in coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) released from a purse seine fishery. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 75(1), 309–318. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsx129