2020 WD AGM Symposia

Table of Contents

For more information about 2020 WD AGM symposia, scroll down or click the links below:

  1. Adult fish counting through hydroelectric fish ladders
  2. Advances in fish-habitat monitoring, assessment, and restoration
  3. Advances in the knowledge of how forestry influences stream-forest boundaries
  4. Alpha to omega: the state of fish passage management, ecology, and engineering in Cascadia
  5. Bridging genotype to phenotype: using rainbow trout as a model species
  6. Bringing an indigenous lens to improve conventional fisheries science
  7. Can freshwater fisheries management in British Columbia become a model for other jurisdictions?
  8. Challenges of long-term genetic monitoring and wide-scale genetic assessment
  9. Designed environments: pushing the boundaries of restoration
  10. Diversity and inclusion: crossing boundaries and navigating intersections of fisheries research and practice
  11. Electronic tracking of salmon in the Pacific Ocean: using novel technologies and physiological analyses to study movements and survival
  12. Fisheries science at the nexus of communities and conservation – collaboration to power transformation
  13. Improvements in releasing Salmon and steelhead from hatcheries
  14. Lampreys without boundaries: conservation and restoration of highly migratory species
  15. Linking flows to fish: challenges and opportunities for instream flow science and management
  16. Mining impacts to the riverine ecosystems of western North America
  17. New solutions for tide gates, fish passage and working landscapes
  18. Sockeye Salmon: past, present, and future in a world of increased disturbance regimes
  19. Student symposium – best student paper competition
  20. The future of Bull Trout conservation and management across its range
  21. The status of fish monitoring in the Fraser River Basin
  22. Towards White Sturgeon recovery: moving from planning to restoration
  23. Trap-and-haul a fisheries tool to enhance reintroduction, relocation, and population recovery efforts
  24. Using photographic images to communicate aquatic science and management messages
  25. West coast estuaries as critical fish habitat: from ecological complexity to management
  26. Western native fishes symposium


Title:  Adult fish counting through hydroelectric fish ladders
Organizer & Affiliation: Dave Duvall ([email protected]), Grant County Public Utility District
Fish ladders provide opportunities to get accurate counts of adult fish migrating upstream.  However, a variety of factors such as counting methods, fall back, re-ascension, water clarity, species identification, abundance, and location can have large effects on the counts.  Live fish counting by observers, observer counts from recordings, or counts generated from artificial intelligence are commonly used methods and trade-offs are involved in each method.  This symposium will evaluate the trade-offs of the different fish counting methods and which methods are most suitable for different applications.  Cost-effectiveness of the different methods will also be evaluated.  In addition, approaches for correcting data collected using different methods and quality control measures will be evaluated.


Title:  Advances in fish-habitat monitoring, assessment, and restoration
Organizer & Affiliation: Phil Roni ([email protected]), Cramer Fish Sciences
Recent years have seen rapid advances in remote sensing, tagging, analytical and other methods that are changing the way we monitor and assess fish and their habitats. This has allowed assessing habitat and fish habitat-relationships at resolution and scales that would not have been possible a decade ago. This symposium will cover a broad range of habitat and fish monitoring methods, analysis, models and approaches that can be used to assess and monitor habitat, natural processes that form habitat, habitat utilization, and fish-habitat relationships to assist with the management, protection, and restoration of fishes and their habitats.


Title: Advances in the knowledge of how forestry influences stream-forest boundaries 
Organizer & Affiliation: John S. Richardson ([email protected]), University of British Columbia
Forest harvesting is a major land-use and has well-known impacts on stream ecosystems, which has been studied since the 1950s.  Management to mitigate forestry impacts has taken on many different forms.  However, testing of the effectiveness of different management practices has not been very common, and there is a stark contrast between the progressive approaches in WA versus those in BC.  Moreover, climate change will alter flow and temperature regimes that may have deleterious impacts on stream ecosystems, and forest management can have a large role in either mitigating or exacerbating these impacts. In particular, ongoing research is demonstrating the need for better protection of headwater streams in most areas. In this symposium we will bring together scientists evaluating the effectiveness of different kinds of riparian forest management to consider how well each practice works, and what range of site conditions for which a given practice is appropriate, and how different forest management strategies mitigate against predicted climate change impacts.


Title: Alpha to omega: The state of fish passage management, ecology, and engineering in Cascadia
Organizer & Affiliation: Larry Dominguez ([email protected]), KPFF Consulting Engineers
Fish passage restoration, in theory, remains one of the most cost-effective fish population recovery mechanisms in the restoration toolbag. In reality, it can also be one of the most expensive pathways to recovery. The US and Canada are pouring tremendous amount of resources at the state, province and federal levels to restore channel and floodplain connectivity. Fish passage improvement efforts are not new but Washington State’s culvert injunction has bolstered the effort in the region as entities pursue projects as legal obligations and stewardship actions.  Monitoring and metrics for success are less complex but may vary, than determining if instream habitat restoration projects are making a difference in populations.  Our symposia will provide a status update of the fish passage restoration discipline from developing concepts, funding sources, assessments, and design and discuss the advantages incorporating supplemental channel restoration. Case studies of program and project examples will be presented as well as offering examples of challenging sites and providing suggestion on how to maximize stream simulation principles amidst natural or man-caused constraints.


Title: Bridging genotype to phenotype: using rainbow trout as a model species 
Organizer & Affiliation: Yangfan Zhang ([email protected]), University of British Columbia

Bridging from genotype to phenotype is key goal for the biological sciences, because building this connection provides a deep understanding of how an organism functions and can respond to environmental change. Rainbow trout are an ideal model fish species in which to bridge this gap because of the rich and long history of studying environmental impacts on the physiology of this species, and the recent development of genomic tools. In this symposium we will showcase this new bridging of genotypic and phenotypic knowledge for rainbow trout. Rainbow trout are indigenous to the northwest of North America, but humans have successfully introduced rainbow trout to all continents, except for the Antarctic, and hatchery stocking of some strains of rainbow trout is utilized extensively across both the native and introduced range. This clearly illustrates that this species has an impressive ability to adapt to different environments. Indeed, the ability of rainbow trout to succeed over a short evolutionary time in face of drastic environmental change makes rainbow trout a candidate model species to ask three key questions: What genotypic changes have occurred in populations of different habitats? Do these genotypic changes correspond to phenotypes that evolve differentially across geographic gradients? How does this genotypic diversity, variation in gene expression or an amalgamation of both contribute to phenotypic diversity? This symposium will feature recent advances in genomics, transcriptomics and phenotypic characterization in rainbow trout. Collectively, we aim to showcase how it is possible to bridge multiple levels of biological organization and advance the frontier of knowledge about how environments shape genotype and gene expression to form a phenotype.


Title: Bringing an Indigenous lens to improve conventional fisheries science
Organizer & Affiliation: Katrina Cook ([email protected]), Instream Fisheries Research; Co-organizers: Andrea Reid, Taylor Wale, Lauren Eckert
The decline of fish populations is substantially affecting livelihoods and communities around the world. Competition over space and fish is escalating in the face of declining stocks and increasing environmental pressures, which also heighten the potential for resource-based conflict. For many of these fisheries, dramatic changes are required to make commercial, recreational, and Indigenous fisheries harvests collectively sustainable. Fishing is integral to many Indigenous cultures, identities, and livelihoods. Across Canada, access to fish for food, social, and ceremonial purposes is a constitutionally protected right for Indigenous peoples that is founded in a complex history of displacement. In the spirit of raising awareness of our shared history and future, this symposium will emphasize the importance of fisheries to Indigenous Nations and examine how holistically understanding the complex and interwoven social, ecological, and political systems of fisheries can improve conventional management and research practices. How can we improve reciprocity in the exchange of knowledge to improve long-term sustainability? How can a better understanding of Indigenous knowledge systems improve collaborative management, science and research? We take a collaborative, pluralistic approach to consider fisheries – engaging Indigenous and Western sciences (i.e. biology and ecology) to allow us to better understand modern problems and suggest best-practices and solutions. We will emphasize that by approaching fisheries management through an Indigenous lens means that cultural values and protocols, ceremony, storytelling, and socio-political discourse play just as crucial a role as does scientific observation and experimentation. Through this symposium we hope to re-ground our practices around fisheries conservation and management and make space to learn from Indigenous experts and challenge our foundations learned through Western science.


Title: Can freshwater fisheries management in British Columbia become a model for other jurisdictions?
Organizer & Affiliation: Nikolaus Gantner ([email protected]), BC Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development—Omineca Region
Freshwater fisheries across British Columbia (BC) are managed by provincial government biologists in crossing sector collaboration with industry partners, NGOs, and academia. Some fisheries and supporting habitats are managed and protected under federal Canadian jurisdiction, by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Locally, partnerships with municipal governments, community associations, and First Nations further support the implementation of BC’s Fisheries Management Plan. Generally, species conservation (including recovery) and First Nations fishing rights are prioritised over recreational use of a given fishery. The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC implements the freshwater stocking program, as well as promotion and education related to recreational fishing. The resulting freshwater fisheries in BC are highly diverse, ranging from family fisheries in small lakes to spectacular wild fisheries in BC’s vast lake and river systems; Prominent recreational fisheries opportunities in BC range from catch-and-release fisheries for the iconic White Sturgeon, Steelhead, Bull Trout, and Arctic Grayling, to put-and-take fisheries of Rainbow Trout and Kokanee. These fisheries must be managed to preserve these opportunities for future generations. Key conservation concerns in BC relate to climate change, overfishing, non-compliance, industrial development, and associated pollution; In addition, land use practises, such as hydroelectric dams, limited enforcement powers, and forestry practises can further affect fisheries directly and indirectly. Future challenges for recreational fisheries include but are not limited to continuing to balance species conservation (including legally mandated recovery efforts) with First Nations fishing rights and the provision of diverse recreational fisheries opportunities to resident and non-resident anglers. Developing recreational fishing as an economic driver in rural areas is of interest to rural BC, as is finding innovative ways to re-invest revenues from license sales. BC’s freshwater fisheries will continue to benefit from scientific research directed at those challenges, including landscape-level studies directed at both conservation concerns and to inform future stocking programs.


Title: Challenges of long-term genetic monitoring and wide-scale genetic assessment
Organizer & Affiliation: Paul Spruell ([email protected]), Eastern Washington University

Since the advent of protein electrophoresis in the 1960’s and 70’s, the use of genetic data in fisheries management has continued to increase. As new technologies have developed, the potential range of questions that may be addressed and the resolution available for detecting genetic patterns has increased dramatically. However, the advancements in the types and numbers of markers available also present some challenges. Genetic monitoring programs attempt to use molecular markers to quantify temporal changes in population genetic metrics. As technologies change these programs may encounter temporal boundaries, as managers often need long-term data sets to allow monitoring and identify meaningful trends. However, the laboratories collecting genetic data often adopt new technologies as they become available. Even though those new technologies may be more efficient and/or may provide better resolution, data collected even in the recent past may not be transferable to the new data sets. Genetic monitoring programs and even genetic assessments, which are often data from a single point in time, may also face anthropogenic spatial boundaries due to the wide range of methodologies that are currently available. Many management agencies have their own internal laboratories that use genetic techniques to analyze samples. These analyses are often limited to the geographic boundaries defined by the authority of that entity. However, migratory fishes in river systems and marine fishes often cross those boundaries. The result is that, at least in some cases, although many individuals may have been genotyped, there are multiple non-overlapping sets of genetic data that cannot be combined into a single, coherent unit. In this symposium we will consider the motivations and constraints leading to changing technologies as well as options used by genetic monitoring programs to minimize the disruptions associated with the ever-changing landscape of genetic analyses.


Title: Designed environments: pushing the boundaries of restoration
Organizer & Affiliation: Peter Graf ([email protected]), Grant County Public Utility District
A fundamental step in any restoration activity is a decision on what is being restored. Yet, this decision point is often passed over because it is assumed that restoration implies a return to a natural, functioning ecosystem from a predevelopment, undisturbed state. In cases where it is feasible, both environmentally and economically, this is a worthwhile policy option. But in many cases a return to a historical natural state, where ecosystem processes occur without management or direction, is no longer an option, or an option that society no longer desires. By studying and learning how ecosystems function, ecologists have armed themselves with the ability to design, or engineer, ecosystems for specific outcomes. For example, in the field of environmental flows, scientists from a broad range of fields have collaborated to develop prescribed flow regimes that elicit desirable biotic and abiotic processes. Traditionally, these prescribed flows have attempted to mimic the natural flow regime. More recently, the concept of designed flows has emerged which looks to use water strategically, in a way that may look very different from natural flows, to support specific ecosystem processes while still allowing for humans use of water resources. In this symposium, we hope to explore the concept of ‘designed environments’ and expand the conversation beyond flow management. Where are we seeing environments designed for positive outcomes rather than restored to natural conditions? What creative solutions have been designed to resolve human-natural interactions? This symposium will end with a panel discussion and Q&A with the goal of developing lessons learned and directions for future restoration.


Title: Diversity and inclusion: crossing boundaries and navigating intersections of fisheries research and practice
Organizer & Affiliation: Anna Lavoie ([email protected]), Colorado State University
The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee has been working towards supporting a more inclusive fisheries profession that recognizes and values the diverse peoples and perspectives involved in fisheries. For the 2020 symposium on diversity and inclusion, we aim to cross boundaries and navigate the intersections of research and practice through our efforts. This includes crossing boundaries between different epistemologies, knowledge systems, values, and the like, and bringing together fishery stakeholders across boundaries of practice and knowledge. It entails not only working towards a more inclusive and equitable profession of fisheries scientists and researchers within AFS and beyond, but also celebrating under-represented peoples that rely upon fisheries for their livelihoods, including women and traditional knowledge holders. We call for proposals that: 1) share the stories of under-represented fishery professionals and how they have navigated boundaries in their work, 2) share work and efforts that support underserved and under-represented fishery stakeholders, and knowledge holders, and 3) share any creative efforts that cross these boundaries and encourage inclusion and equity within fisheries science. Please email conference organizers if you are interested in attending this symposium and are in need of reasonable accommodations.


Title: Electronic tracking of salmon in the Pacific Ocean: using novel technologies and physiological analyses to study movements and survival 
Organizer & Affiliation: Scott Hinch ([email protected]), University of British Columbia
Underwater acoustic arrays now cover large portions of the Pacific northwest coast enabling broad scale tracking of both juvenile and adult salmonids. Large scale radio and PIT tag arrays are also located in many estuary and riverine areas. Recently, several research groups have incorporated physiological and/or genetic assessments as part of their tracking enabling a mechanistic and spatial understanding of fish behaviour and survival. Several of these studies involve tracking fish that cross international and environmental boundaries. Our symposium presentations will examine interactions between predators (such as killer whales and pinnipeds) and prey (salmon), explore differences in behaviour and habitat use among different life stages of salmon, reveal effects of migration routes on survival, the role of anthropogenic effects such as shipping noise, fishing practices and pollution, and the overarching influence of climate change. The common theme among all of the presentations will be the utilization of large spatial scale telemetry systems as a means to examine individual fish movements. All the presentations have strong links to fisheries conservation and management as many of the populations that are studied are designated as threatened or endangered and the marine life phase of Pacific salmon is believed to be one of the critical bottlenecks to their survival. This symposium supports the conference theme of “Crossing Boundaries and Navigating Intersections” as the presentations report on research that crosses political, methodological, technological, and environmental boundaries, but ‘intersect’ in their use of interdisciplinary approaches.


Title: Fisheries science at the nexus of communities and conservation – collaboration to power transformation
Organizer & Affiliation: William I. Atlas ([email protected]), Pacific Salmon Foundation | University of Victoria
In an era of rapid global change and escalating threats to fisheries sustainability, scientists are being asked to provide insight and solutions into some of our most urgent environmental issues. To do this in an equitable and effective way, scientists are increasingly working with communities for whom environmental change and conservation have urgent real-life consequences. From First Nations to local communities and stakeholders, fisheries science can have an impact on peoples lives in powerful ways. We hope to highlight examples of community-partnered science that is making a difference, and to spark a conversation about how to work effectively with communities on the frontlines. In doing so we believe we can help chart a path towards more impactful applied research that provides answers to some of our most important challenges in fisheries conservation.


Title: Improvements in releasing Salmon and steelhead from hatcheries
Organizer & Affiliation: Eric Lauver ([email protected]), Grant County Public Utility District
The way that Salmon and steelhead are released from hatcheries can have a large influence on homing and survival of target species, as well as influence on ecological interactions with non-target species of concern in the natural environment. Small differences in hatchery operations that optimize releases can produce large benefits to target and non-target species at low cost. This symposium will address: 1) recent findings from studies about alternative release strategies, 2) approaches to improve release strategies, and 3) the effects of release strategies on ecological interactions. Evaluation and exploration of the trade-offs of releasing fish at different temporal scales (e.g., daylight vs. darkness, day of the month, month) and using different release methods (e.g., volitional, forced, trucked) will be discussed.


Title: Lampreys without boundaries: conservation and restoration of highly migratory species
Organizer & Affiliation: Laurie Porter ([email protected]), Columbia River Inter Tribal Fish Commission
The conservation and management of Pacific lamprey and other lampreys requires collaboration across cultural, geographical, political, social, ecological and economical spectrums and within an inclusive environment which respects and empowers diversity. Additionally, climate change must be considered within every decision we make as it is the greatest threat to our planet. We intend to provide a symposium with a range of topics highlighting that lampreys have no boundaries. Characterization of dispersal of lampreys throughout rivers and oceans requires cooperation across borders and between nations. Lampreys are susceptible to climate change in every life stage and it may disrupt migrations. We expect to have at least five talks, with a focus on both traditional ecological knowledge and tribal scientific research and those working in collaboration with tribes on research, monitoring and evaluation topics. The intent is at the end of the symposium there will be an opportunity to design a study proposal to address critical uncertainties in migration patterns of adult Pacific lamprey, to clarify uncertainties on species differentiations between parasitic and non-parasitic lampreys, as well as expand opportunities for collaborations across tribes and nations.


Title: ​Linking flows to fish: challenges and opportunities for instream flow science and management 
Organizer & Affiliation: Sean Naman ([email protected]), University of British Columbia | Simon Fraser University
Navigating trade-offs between fish habitat requirements and societal water demand is a key challenge facing fisheries managers, which will be exacerbated with climate change and increasing land development. Effectively dealing with these trade-offs critically depends on credible science linking flows to fish, a complex and multifaceted problem that spans disciplines and ecological scales. For example, flow can impact fish directly by altering habitat, or indirectly by altering prey availability or susceptibility to predators. Further complexity is added when considering how flow interacts with other abiotic stressors, such as temperature or dissolved oxygen. Collectively, this complexity impedes the development of generalizable links between flow and key biological endpoints (e.g., demography or performance) that inform management decisions; for instance, setting minimum flow requirements. This session aims to bring together diverse perspectives from biologists and managers dealing with these issues. We welcome presentations spanning a broad range of topics, including fundamental flow-ecology relationships, methodology, and specific case studies.


Title: Mining impacts to the riverine ecosystems of western North America 
Organizer & Affiliation: Christopher Sergeant ([email protected]), University of Montana Flathead Lake Biological Station
Throughout the mountainous region of western North America, hard rock, coal, and placer mines provide important jobs and resources for society, but their operations can pose substantial risks to freshwater ecosystems. Known mining impacts on fish include decreased physiological condition and reproductive success from elevated heavy metals, reduced habitat availability caused by infrastructure development, and increased egg mortality due to sedimentation. There is an urgent need for scientists in the United States and Canada to more broadly coordinate research, synthesize existing data, identify the important knowledge gaps, and assist with the application of science to management of mining impacts. To help advance that effort, the three organizers of this symposium participated in an October 2019 workshop at the Flathead Lake Biological Station titled, Advancing scientific knowledge of mining impacts on salmonid-bearing watersheds, the products from which can be viewed here. This Western Division AFS symposium is an extension of that workshop and includes key findings and recommendations from participants in four focal areas: native salmonids, ecotoxicology, hydrology/water quality, and the science-policy interface. We will include additional presentations broadly discussing the ecological impacts of mines on western watersheds, and identifying opportunities for mitigating risk and impacts to fish and rivers. Since rivers and the fish using them often cross cultural and political boundaries, we welcome policy topics and ask that scientific presentations discuss how the work has been applied—or could be—to environmental decision-making.


Title: New solutions for tide gates, fish passage and working landscapes
Organizer & Affiliation: Jason Nuckols ([email protected]), The Nature Conservancy
Historically, Oregon had over 228,000 acres of estuarine habitats; today just over 17 percent of the tidal wetland habitats remain in high quality, functioning condition. A contributing factor to the loss of tidal wetlands is dikes, levees, and tide gates that impede the historic function of low-lying coastal floodplains. In Oregon, stakeholders have awakened to the challenge and opportunity presented by tide gate infrastructure. Poor performing tide gates are required by law to be replaced or retrofitted to be fish passage compliant, but it is a considerable expense for landowners. Additionally, the scope and scale of Oregon’s tide gate problem is poorly understood. As a result, the Oregon Tide Gate Partnership formed and is committed to seeking solutions that serve the needs of both people and nature. The Partnership is working to understand and increase awareness of the size, scope and cost of Oregon’s tide gate problem, and harnessing our scientific and technical expertise to pursue solutions. Engineering and Regulatory solutions are being applied to improve the process of tide gate repair and replacement. A tide gate inventory of the entire Oregon Coast and Columbia River is underway. In addition, we are developing scientific models that allow us to optimize among tide gates to help ensure we are focused on repair, retrofitting or replacement of tide gates that maximize fish and wildlife benefits at the least cost. Members of the Tide Gate Partnership will share their work and lessons learned during this session to help others working on fish passage barriers and improving the ecological uplift of working landscapes in estuaries.


Title: Sockeye Salmon: past, present, and future in a world of increased disturbance regimes
Organizer & Affiliation: Jeffrey Fryer ([email protected]), Columbia River Inter Tribal Fish Commission
Sockeye Salmon were once abundant from Oregon up to Alaska and across the Bering Sea, however many of these populations are greatly reduced or eliminated, particularly the southern stocks in British Columbia, Washington, and the Columbia Basin.  Many of these stocks had record, or near-record low returns in 2019 and are especially vulnerable to disturbance regimes.  High temperatures decimated Columbia Basin Sockeye stocks in 2015 and threatens to do so more frequently in the future.  The marine environment has become more inhospitable with frequent periods of elevated temperature (e.g. “the blob”).  A 2019 landslide in the Fraser River threatens numerous salmonid stocks, including several important Sockeye runs.  Hydro-development has destroyed many Sockeye stocks and damaged many others.  Urbanization, mining, timber harvest, and water diversions continue to adversely affect Sockeye runs, and that will likely increase in the future.  Even stocks in pristine areas, such as Bristol Bay, Alaska, are vulnerable to impacts of the proposed Pebble mining project. There are reasons for encouragement as well.  Sockeye restoration and enhancement efforts are underway in the Deschutes, Yakima, and Snake basins in the Columbia, though results have been meager thus far.  More successful has been the Okanagan Basin, where improved flow management, restored habitat, reduced harvest, and restoration of Sockeye Salmon to Skaha Lake has increased runs from less than 10,000 in 1995 to over 500,000 at Bonneville Dam in 2014.  With the reopening of the vast Okanagan Lake to Sockeye Salmon in the fall of 2019, much bigger runs may be possible in the future. This symposia will explore the past, present, and likely future of Sockeye populations with a focus on restoration efforts in the Columbia Basin, the success in the Okanagan, and problems faced by Fraser and Puget Sound Sockeye although submissions from other basins are welcome.


Title: Student symposium – best student paper competition
Organizer & Affiliation: Thomas Keegan ([email protected]),  Helix Environmental Planning

This symposium proposal is in response to the Call for symposia topics, and describes the proposed ‘Student Symposium’ in which only those students interested in being judged for student papers is being proposed. The Student Symposium technically includes both oral presentations and posters, and is an opportunity for students to showcase their research in oral and poster presentation formats. This approach is being proposed to improve judging program transparency. In short, all students will be judged by the same cadre of judges, thereby decreasing variability of judging results.  Student presentations and posters will be in the running for cash prize awards. Students submitting poster abstracts will automatically be entered into the Student Symposium. The poster presentations portion of the Student Symposium (judging) will be held during the Poster Session. Depending upon the number of Student presentation abstracts received, a full day symposium is anticipated. This year, we will be announcing and awarding all winners at the evening banquet.  Judging forms will be available at the Registration Desk, as well as at the Poster Session and Student Symposium.  Prospective judges are asked to contact Tom Keegan ([email protected]), American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists (AIFRB).  In summary, all students are encouraged to submit their abstracts for oral presentations into the Student Symposium.  Only those students presenting in the Student Symposium will be judged for student awards and prizes.


Title: The future of Bull Trout conservation and management across its range
Organizer & Affiliation: Judy Neibauer ([email protected]), US Fish & Wildlife—Central Washington Field Office
Bull trout have been listed across their range at varying levels of concern under state, provincial, and federal authorities for over 30 years. Environmental and anthropogenic stressors such as a changing climate, land management practices, hydroelectric dams, and fisheries management directly and indirectly affect Bull Trout populations. Bull Trout have benefited from conservation in some areas, but generally remain disconnected, in low abundances. Mechanisms to manage threats are not fully developed or understood, and in areas Bull Trout are still misunderstood or unknown by the general public. If the species is to thrive, it is necessary to examine causes for decline and evaluate pathways to recovery in the face of existing and emerging threats. Describing projects aimed at improving “whole” ecosystem function, may be a way to communicate how restoration actions apply to the human landscape. With many populations declining and habitats disconnected, emphasizing their need to be connected to headwater spawning areas and their role as a key indicator of watershed health could help to tell their story. Part of any conservation strategy is being able to tell the story in easily understood language. Communicating their story, including describing the Bull Trout’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, in words everyone can understand, may be a pathway to future conservation. Reviewing science, threats, success stories, and emerging technologies could help cross boundaries into new ways of communicating and managing threats. Having an easily described set pathways, information, and goals, may help the next generation of scientists navigate the ecological information, essential for both managers and the general public’s understanding of the conservation of the species. This symposium follows up on recommendations from the Bull Trout symposium held at the 2018 AFS WA-BC and 2019 Salvelinus confluentus Curiosity Society meeting to discuss future pathways for this iconic species. 


Title: The status of fish monitoring in the Fraser River Basin
Organizer & Affiliation: Cory Bettles ([email protected]), Hatfield Consultants

The Fraser River Basin is the largest watershed in British Columbia draining more than a quarter of the Province. It is one of the world’s most productive salmon river, supporting all five species of salmon and many other species of fish, including steelhead and white sturgeon. While more than two thirds of BC’s total population reside within the Fraser River Basin and with the region’s economy and rapid population growth, the Fraser River watershed is exposed to a wide array of anthropogenic stressors such as urbanization, de-forestation, agricultural intensification and land-use change.  With ongoing threats of climate change and habitat degradation in the Basin, Indigenous communities, scientists, resource managers and other stakeholders recognize the importance of traditional knowledge and scientific data to build shared policies, practices and procedures necessary to guide future actions for protecting and restoring the Fraser River Basin. The goal of this symposia is to focus on recent and ongoing fish monitoring and fish sampling techniques employed in the Fraser River Basin with particular focus on  at risk species/populations of importance to Indigenous Groups including (but not limited to) eulachon, white sturgeon, and salmon. Although presentations will aim to showcase studies conducted in the Fraser River Basin, the information discussed can also provide valuable insight and an opportunity for proven and successful monitoring strategies to be adopted and incorporated into other large river fish studies.


Title: Towards White Sturgeon recovery: moving from planning to restoration
Organizer & Affiliation: Chris Mott ([email protected]), Grant County Public Utility District
Recovery of endangered white sturgeon populations is a long-term endeavour.  Understanding why various populations are in decline has involved extensive research and monitoring programs that have dramatically increased our knowledge of white sturgeon biology, habitat needs and conservation requirements.  Despite this extensive learning, shifting the focus from planning to implementing restoration still presents many challenges and risks.  Habitat restoration in the large rivers occupied by sturgeon will require substantial investment, and uncertainty regarding the causes of declining or failed recruitment means that restoration solutions can be considered experimental until proven successful.  The limited ability to replicate experimental restoration within a single river, as well as the long time lags until recruitment is detectable also impose substantial constraints on the pace of habitat restoration. Collaboration among different recovery programs represents a potential approach to increase collective progress toward conservation and recovery.  Monitoring is also a critical component of demonstrating the effectiveness of restoration and the application of novel monitoring tools may play an important role in demonstrating the effectiveness of white sturgeon restoration programs.  This symposium aims to bring together researchers and managers from throughout the range of White Sturgeon, and those studying other sturgeon, to promote the development and implementation of restoration for these iconic species.


Title: Trap-and-haul a fisheries tool to enhance reintroduction, relocation, and population recovery efforts
Organizer & Affiliation:  Tobias J. Kock ([email protected]), US Geological Survey
Recovery efforts for threatened and endangered fish populations often include reintroduction, relocation, and movement past barriers in order to maintain and enhance existing populations. Trap-and-haul has been used as a tool to move fish for decades, serving to provide passage at impassable migration barriers, to reintroduce fish to areas where they were previously extirpated, to expand the range of certain fish species, to remove fish from perilous in-river conditions, and in some cases to prevent fish populations from extinction. While this method is conceptually simple, various methods have been developed and used to collect juvenile and adult life stages, minimize handling stress and effects, and release fish to achieve a range of objectives. This session will include presentations from a range of practitioners, researchers, and managers to synthesize what is known about best practices for trap-and-haul as well as other considerations for reintroduction or movement of fish, such as risk assessment, uncertainties to success, and potential alternative strategies.


Title: Using photographic images to communicate aquatic science and management messages
Organizer & Affiliation: Todd Pearsons ([email protected]), Grant County Public Utility District

Photographic images can be powerful tools to communicate aquatic science and management messages, however communication may not reach full potential if images are not taken, selected, and used properly.  This symposium will focus on the best applications for using images in communication and how to make, modify, and disseminate images for maximum impact.  Consideration will be given to both still and moving images. Topics that will be covered include: comparison of still versus video image benefits, benefits of using underwater images, working with photographers and journalists, use of images in communicating climate change to aquatic ecosystems, how to use images, when is text better than images and vice-versa, and other relevant topics.  In addition, technical aspects of photography and videography will be discussed including cost-effective gear and software recommendations.  Finally, the art of story-telling using images will be discussed.


Title: West coast estuaries as critical fish habitat: from ecological complexity to management
Organizer & Affiliation: Samantha Wilson ([email protected]), Simon Fraser University
Estuaries are biodiversity hotspots and are increasingly degraded by human development yet are much less studied compared to their freshwater counterparts. Found at the interface of land and sea, they are incredibly productive regions that can support multitudes of fish species such as juvenile salmon, herring, and groundfish. These fish rely on estuaries, likely due to their high productivity and relatively low predation risk. The dynamic nature of estuaries makes them challenging areas to characterise and as a result, knowledge gaps exist surrounding how fish utilize estuaries across their life cycles. Furthermore, continued estuary development has made it increasingly important to fill knowledge gaps surrounding how alteration or destruction of estuary habitat will affect estuary-dependent fish species, particularly at the population-level (e.g. growth and survival). Together these knowledge gaps can lead to challenges in prioritizing areas for protection or development. This symposium will bring together researchers studying estuary-dependent fish species throughout the west coast of North America to address two questions:  1) How do estuaries support fishes across their complex life cycles? and 2) How can scientific advances be incorporated to guide estuary management and conservation to support estuary functions? This symposium will highlight novel findings related to fish use of estuaries across a range of human impacts and the best practices for characterising the use of estuaries by fish species.


Title: Western native fishes symposium
Organizer & Affiliation: Timothy D’Amico ([email protected]), Idaho Fish and Game
Native fishes research and management often faces boundaries, both anthropogenic and natural. Our goal for the sixth-annual native fishes symposium hosted by the Western Native Fishes Committee is to provide an opportunity for those interested in native fishes to cross boundaries and meet at the intersection of native fishes. We encourage presentations that cross boundaries, both anthropogenic (e.g. multiple jurisdictions, cross-border collaborations) and natural (e.g. confluences, riparian-aquatic interfaces). In keeping with the mission of the Western Native Fishes Committee to provide a network for people with an interest and/or expertise in native fishes, this symposium will allow presenters to offer insights into diverse management approaches, concepts and constraints to native fish conservation across regions of North America.