Category Archives: Stories

“Canada’s” Priorities… Rape the oil patch, or teach 15 million Canadians to read – what’s your priority?

from Report of Financial Literacy Task Force 2011


Fascinating sometimes how synchronicity works…

Earlier today I was visiting various news sites as the announcement came out of Toronto from former investment banker and broker (30+ years) and executive director of the Ontario Securities Commission, now Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver:

Proposed changes aim to quicken [Environmental] reviews, reduce uncertainty

The federal government is asserting its control over pipelines – including the proposed Northern Gateway oil-sands project – taking from regulators the final word on approvals and limiting the ability of opponents to intervene in environmental assessments.

In proposed legislation unveiled by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver on Tuesday, the Harper government will clear away regulatory hurdles to the rapid development of Canada’s natural resource bounty…

Apparently in Oliver, Harper and the rest of the Reform Gang’s brilliance:

At a Toronto press conference, Mr. Oliver said the proposed changes are aimed at providing quicker reviews in order to reduce regulatory uncertainty and thereby create more jobs and investment in Canada’s booming resource sector.

“We are at a critical juncture because the global economy is now presenting Canada with an historic opportunity to take full advantage of our immense resources,” he said. “But we must seize the moment. These opportunities won’t last forever.”

Hmmmm. They won’t last forever?


Where are the resources going?

Is this like one of those childhood mythologies… remember “digging to China”? Maybe the Chinese are digging to Canada… stick a siphon in, suck it out…

Oh wait… they don’t have to… just give PetroChina (Chinese government owned company) and let them dig IN Canada…

… and make the siphon out of pipelines and supertankers… (and leave the risk with BC’ers and the BC coast)

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Is this one of those classic, rape it all now and leave little for the future…scenarios?

Hmmm. Who benefits from this approach?

Oliver’s long time buddies in the investment industry, maybe…?

How about my kids? yours?

Nope. NOT.

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And, yet, on the Globe and Mail website earlier today ran the article above as the top story (circled in red below)… and then coincidentally enough, a few hours later the website looks like this:

Globe and Mail screenshot April 17


“Household debt is biggest domestic risk” says Bank of Canada.

Canadians’ household debt levels are already at near-record levels. The Bank of Canada thinks they will swell even higher.

“Household spending is expected to remain high relative to GDP as households add to their debt burden, which remains the biggest domestic risk,” the central bank said Tuesday as it boosted its economic growth forecast and indicated higher interest rates are on the way.

Hmmmm. The biggest “domestic” risk in Canada is household debt?

How ’bout the brainwaves running Ottawa these days?

Get that oil out of the ground as fast as possible and send it to resource-hungry growing economies…

what about keeping it in the ground for now and making our next generation, and the generation after that some of the richest going…?

It’s like the brainwave approach occurring right now in sucking out, and sending away Canada’s natural gas resource… at historically low prices.

Natural gas prices have probably never been lower.

yet, suck and send. suck and send. suck and send.

Can’t stop the sucking…

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Household debt?

It is a shocking problem.

This graph, below, comes from the Federally appointed Task Force on Financial Literacy in Canada.

Appointed by current Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the Task Force completed their Final Report in early 2011. (that is where the image at the beginning of the post comes from).

Here’s their graph showing the levels of household debt in relation to income.

Ratio of Household income to debt ratio over since 1990...

Yea, in a little over 20 years we’ve gone from 90% income to debt, to a soaring 150% now… that’s a problem.

You drive through a town like Prince George recently?…

Some will suggest that all of these households can have RV’s, travel trailers, a couple of vehicles, ATVs for summer and snow machines for winter, and trailers to haul them, and trips to Maui… and… and…

…because the cost of housing is so low.

Apparently, that’s the reason say many…

Well, not one to burst too many bubbles… it’s called debt. Massive Debt.

It’s called, ‘gotta job… sure i’ll give you credit’…

‘shitty credit rating? oh no worries we’ll just charge you more interest’

wanna home, shitty credit, no worries, we got a deal for you…

(not our problem anyways… we’ll just bundle the debt into some obscure financial derivative and sell it to American banks, they’ll get bailed out by taxpayers anyways…)

As the old saying goes: “any turkey can make a payment…”

Not meant to be demeaning, simply a common saying.

With credit available from pretty much any store, retailer, car dealer, and so on… it’s not difficult – in the least – to finance an appearance of “wealth”, “prestige” or “happiness”…

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So let’s put these two, possibly disparate ideas together…

The current governing regime is going to rip all of our current ‘resources’ out of the ground… and send them to the hoover-resource vacuum cleaner across the Pacific…

“But we must seize the moment. These opportunities won’t last forever.” says Joe.

Oliver that is.

Investment banker… errr… I mean Natural Resources Minister.

I’m sure in his 30+ years in his previous line of work he had little interaction with oil execs, or huge investment funds buying into oil companies… ‘positive’…

And so apparently the Conservatives are ‘streamlining’ environmental regulations in Canada because we must carpe diem.   [Seize the Oil…]

[…so we don’t Cease the Economic boom.]

… And YET… and Yet…

50% of Canadians struggle with simple tasks involving math and numbers.

42% of Canadians struggle with reading.

So really… mr. Oliver…(and Harper) who’s going to benefit from this ‘streamlining’ process, this ‘hurry and get the oil out’ process…?

The investment community, or the 50% of Canadians struggling with simple tasks involving math and numbers… yet, simple access to credit… at super low interest (i’m sure)…?

What an interesting time in Canada’s path… from peacekeepers to oil-mongers.

In other words… from ‘whoops, sorry, excuse me… to “What’s your problem? $15 billion for F-35s, $25 billion…? who cares, who’s counting?” (and really it was just this silly accounting error… stop hassling me…)

Someone stop that SCREECH of the record needle as it slides off the old vinyl…


What a fish story …!?


Two fishermen and two historians often disagree widely as to what happened, omitting altogether the even more difficult problem of ‘why’.”

.  – Rudy Wiebe. Canadian author and teacher. Intro to: “The Story-Makers” (1987 reprint of 1970 collection of short stories)

fishermen and historians?

I came across this quote recently in an introduction to a book of short stories. It was one of those random finds… or maybe it was not random…

I commonly utilize a saying: “I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe in synchronicity…”  And the experience of coming across this quote, fits well with many of my life experiences, including recent ones…

Of all the places I chose to wander in a large university library today to take a break… to stretch my legs… i wander down this book’s particular aisle, look up and pull it off the top shelf…

The story-makers… now that sounds curious…”, I say to myself.

I begin to read the introduction…

The impulse to make story needs no defence. Where it arises, who knows. It simply is, like the impulse to sing, to dance, to play games. It would seem, however, that story-making is the uniquely human of these impulses for, though many animals sing, play games, perform intricate and beautiful dances, it still remains to be discovered whether any make stories…

… For us, to make story is to entertain: we entertain ourselves as we entertain our listeners. In other words, the emotional impulse to make story drives toward the principle of pleasure…

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And, so I’m running along with this intro, thinking, ‘this is kind of cool’ then I scratch off the side like an old record player getting jostled.

See, recently, I attended a former colleague’s Masters’ project defence. I was struck in the presentation by an explanation, following a direct examiner question, of the ‘concept’ behind the project being described. The ‘concept’  was described as essentially something that came to him out of the ether… (that was his story).

My internal thinking resembled the scratching of the record needle blaring through the speakers…

“No, it didn’t… that’s bullshit”, my internal voice says about the ‘birth’ of the ‘concept’…

My reasoning for this thinking fueled by working on similar projects, in a non-academic sense, for several years and a recognition that the ‘concept’ being discussed has essentially been around as long as the Internet has been around — and probably even more before that.

I continue listening to the presentation, with a distinctly sour taste in my mouth watching an academic committee essentially lap it up. “Oh this is wonderful stuff… so progressive…” (I paraphrase).

And, my internal storyline is shouting, “you’re going to let that go by… this is academic rigor…”

I leave the presentation… well…feeling jaded.

As in the sufficient dictionary definition suggesting: “1. satiated by overindulgence: e.g. a jaded appetite. 2. worn out or wearied, as by overwork or overuse.”

How many times has this happened to others? Sitting and listening to someone sell something as if it’s their idea, and yet knowing they might be bullshitting, or the simple fact that the ‘concept’ being sold is part of a much larger thought process that was pondered well before this particular individual claims it came out of the ether, or ‘just came to them…’

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Now this is where things are a little complicated or complex or convoluted…

Subjective… one might suggest.

The individual making the claim of concept, may very well truthfully feel that the concept is only unique to them. Cutting edge to their mind; unique; an epiphany. A ‘story’ they created.

So then is it a lie?

(or maybe just shoddy research…? or, flawed pondering…?  or, flawed academic review? … hard to say really… like much of the law, it comes down to gray areas, both the messy, slimy, bulbous gray areas near and just above the area between our shoulder blades and the interpretations that gray area garners…).

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Now similarly, these sames sorts of questions can be asked of the current fuss in Canadian politics around the F-35 fighter jets and the recent Auditor General’s report suggesting that the Conservatives/Reformers were lying about what they knew about the true cost, or didn’t know…

But then of course, the definition of lying is a rather subjective, gray area… ebbing and flowing in politics like a Bay of Fundy tide.

Even more so when we start to broach the subject of ‘marketing’… (and lying).

As I repeatedly state: ‘everything is marketing and marketing is everything’.

What is a thesis defence, but an exercise in personal marketing…

One person’s story, can be another person’s spin. One’s spin, anothers’ story and so on and so on and so on until we vomit off the side of the merry-go-round.

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Gregory Cajete a Native American educator and writer suggests: “Through story we explain and come to understand ourselves.

Similarly, Wiebe suggests:

… it easy to imagine that the impulse to make story and submit to it is rooted in our necessity to label. Wherever we live we invent symbols (a picture, a sound, an act) for things, apparently in order to relate in an essentially human way to the things themselves.

Another story theorist and psychologist in the academic world Jerome Bruner suggests:

A story must construct two landscapes simultaneously – the outer landscape of action and the inner one of thought and intention.

True, quite true.

Wiebe continues in his introduction to a book on short stories, putting the opening quote in context:

Story recounting what happened

…and the broken dream that may occur when the “primitive encounters the modern world”…:

The earliest development of this form [story] is no doubt autobiography (it happened to me) followed closely by biography (it happened to them) and, after perhaps generations by history (it happened to our tribe, that group of nations, etc.). It moves from one extreme — say, the fisherman telling once more about the fish that got away — through an incredible spectrum to the other extreme — say, Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples.

Besides, it can include every conceivable combination of information from generally accepted fact through informed surmise to the sheerest tall tale.

Two fishermen and two historians often disagree widely as to what happened, omitting altogether the even more difficult problem of ‘why’.

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Now stick with me here, for a moment more (if you’re still here…)

Wiebe weaves a decent mat here:

Such circumstances need hardly surprise us. We all are to an extent limited in what we can take in… This is a verity every good story-maker knows, the quality of story depends rather less on what happens than on how the story is made, and if you can begin your story with “I was there; this really happened” you already have long hold on your audience.

Then, if you can with skill, shape facts and events to show the human meanings behind them… you have a truly memorable story. How much you mix actual fact and fancy is not so important as that the story whole moves us to understand ‘what happened’ in a profounder human way.

And there we have a certain crux of the matter…

How much we weave actual fact with some fiction is not so important, as long as we tell a good story.

Now, this isn’t meant as a criticism of Wiebe — as he’s referring to good short stories, which are often a good weave of fact and fiction — however, this ability of story-telling is as old as the wind, or at least as long as humans have broke wind…

But then one might argue that places have story, and story is about places… a storied-landscape albeit…

The point being that inherent in story-telling — whether it be a politician, or political party, trying to story-tell their way out of lies (or into them…), or into government for that fact, or…

…an interviewee pulling and pushing the truth around a little in an interview or a resume, or…

…stretching things around a little in the academic world, such as ‘defending’ a thesis or otherwise, or…

…an Us vs. Them argument fronted by governments or enviro groups, or special interest groups…

the stories are going to vary.

… in their ability to entertain, capture attention, and how much is “F”act and how much is “F”iction and how much is ‘f’ancy and ‘d’ancy.

Or, maybe just like mountains on Bruner’s  landscapes… was it a mountain of a lie, or a molehill of stretched fact…?

Or, was it simply all in the interpretation of features on the landscape in the first place?

For a person in a wheelchair, a set of stairs might as well be a mountain… for the able, maybe one of those stairways to heaven…

Yet, at the end of the story the more important question is: ‘Why’?

And to that, i have nothing even closely resembling an answer…


‘absence of evidence must be evidence of absence’… when it comes to ancient knowledge of fisheries?

Ancient 'British' rock fish trap dating to approx. 1000


Over the last two days I’ve had the good fortune to listen to Dr. Charles Menzies (Associate Professor in Anthropology at UBC) speak in Prince George on two different topics – yet intimately related…

On the UBC website it lists Charles research interests as such:

My primary research interests are the production of anthropological films, natural resource management (primarily fisheries related), political economy, contemporary First Nations’ issues, maritime anthropology and the archaeology of north coast BC.

I have conducted field research in, and have produced films concerning, north coastal BC, Canada (including archaeological research); Brittany, France; and Donegal, Ireland.

Last night, at Art Space within Prince George’s independent book store Books & Company, Menzies delivered a presentation called:

Abalone, Pipelines, and Aboriginal Rights – Making Sense of Coastal Opposition to the Northern Gateway Project.

Found it to be quite a fascinating subject, quite enjoyed Menzies taking some pointed shots at academia and some ‘status-quo’ theories of some academics. Stirring the pot a little… (wooden spoon anyone?)

Namely, taking shots at some archaeologists that have adopted some rather faulty views of what folks on the coast may, or may not have been doing pre-contact.

You know at the apparent “discovery” of North America… and especially coastal northwestern North America.

In the research that informed Menzies’ presentation he visited ancient (and contemporary) Gitxaała village sites.

Gitxaała (Kitkatla) territory is south down the coast from Prince Rupert, BC and in the general vicinity south of the Skeena River mouth. As I understand it, Dr. Menzies’ family comes from that area, and he himself grew up in Prince Rupert.

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He explained that his research was quite purposely directed to do some investigation of community-known ancient village sites (and still contemporary used areas) which are along the proposed Enbridge oil super-tanker route, which would be used if Enbridge and Harper get their way in ramming a TarSands oil pipeline (Northern Exit-way) down the throats of north-central, north-coastal BC people’s throat.

(that last bit being my editorializing…).

He explained that the ‘status-quo’ archaeological ‘investigations’ and theories of this particular area suggest that people of this area did not harvest many abalone.

Community members most clearly say otherwise…

But archaeological theory continued to deny otherwise… look at our evidence, they say…

good old: ‘absence of evidence must be evidence of absence’…

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Dr. Menzies and his crew, through low impact archaeological investigation and community elder direction to sites, sort of blew that proverbial misguided boat out of the water.

Or… i suppose… put the bilhaa (abalone) back in the water… one might say…

Menzies’ and crew found, what one might characterize, as no shortage of evidence of abalone use by ancients. Some dating back further than 4,000 years.

Menzies has an interesting paper at his publications page documenting the ancient Gitxaała connection to abalone  — bilhaa.

Menzies_ Abalone_2010

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There’s a fitting quote early in the paper, which also relates to recent posts on this site regarding the federal government’s apparent ‘modernization of Canada’s commercial fisheries’:

The future of Canada’s schizophrenic Fisheries Ministry… called into question. (And DFO gets another new name.)

Menzies suggests:

The development of the non-aboriginal commercial dive fishery in British Columbia is a classic example of competitive greed combining with ineffectual resource management to decimate a resource.

The story of the collapse of abalone (bilhaa ) up and down the coast, is a common story, caught quite well by Menzies:

Bilhaa is one of a set of Gitxaała cultural keystone species. Cultural keystone species are species that “play a unique role in shaping and characterizing the identity of the people who rely on them.

These are species that become embedded in a people’s cultural traditions and narratives, their ceremonies, dances, songs, and discourse”. Until the late 20th century, Gitxaała people were unhindered in the harvesting of bilhaa within the traditional territory and in accord with longstanding systems of indigenous authority and jurisdiction.

However, the rapid expansion of a non-aboriginal commercial dive fishery through the 1970s-1980s brought bilhaa stocks perilously close to extinction. The DFO responded to this non-aboriginal induced crisis by closing the total bilhaa fishery. DFO made no apparent effort to accommodate indigenous interests.

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Abalone (bilhaa), was most certainly not just limited to the BC coast.

In a recent research project I’ve been involved in… here is an image from old Father Morice’s journals (e.g. namesake for Moricetown, Morice Lake, etc.) from Dakelh (Carrier) people in the now Ft. St. James area in late 1800s.

abalone ornament from Dakelh people of BC interior

These types of ornaments would have traveled in on the oolichan grease trails and other various trade routes including dentalia shells, and other items, with prized hides of various sorts and soapberry traveling to the coast.

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In today’s presentation at UNBC Charles spoke about his research into artisanal fisheries on the coast of France — in other words small family, or community owned fisheries…

…and the impact of globalization on these fisheries and fisherfolks.

The story is remarkably similar to the story of agriculture throughout Canada, and other areas. The move from family-owned plots of land and specialized crops, to monoculture, highly centralized and controlled institutions and corporations that control much of the flow.

As Menzies suggested, when fish prices change in Brazil it affects fisherfolks in Canada… the impact of globalization (and maybe one might suggest: ‘systems theory’…)

Similar with wheat, barley, rye, and so on…

The fish market of the globe is largely controlled by only a handful of organizations. Fishing gear is largely down to only two or three companies.

Gee, does this sound like Monsanto or other mega multinational corporations controlling agriculture worldwide…?

The benefits of this, largely benefiting only a few, and the implications and drawbacks having devastating consequences on the small players of the world — you know… the little players like community members and families.

… those same “families” that all politicians seem to be soooo concerned about…

…from BC’s current un-elected premier Clark to the highest fed levels in Canada and even current Republican blather flooding Canadian airways these days as they try and select a presidential candidate.

(gee… one might almost feel bad for all those “singles” out there… hey?)

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The great thing about sitting at the ‘back’ during presentations such as Dr. Menzies’ is that one can watch the various academics squirm and frown with mere mention of ideas that might challenge the status-quo economic theories or otherwise that are currently being jammed down the whole medley of ‘students’ out there.

All the more sad as they riddle themselves with debt (students that is) the size of a small European nation and learning tired and worn out theories — such as the “invisible hand of the market” and other ‘strength of privatization’-bumpf flying around like the old passenger pigeon of old

(or running around like a dodo bird with its head cut off).

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Not unlike the current Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ bumpf-filled, fluffy, blather around ‘modernizing’ Canada’s fisheries.

(yeah, sure… go for it… modernize the ‘fishery’… but I think i can safely say that the fish themselves are not all that interested in ‘modernizing’

… think it’s called barely surviving…

…fish populations around the world are on death-row, which means the fleet can be as modern as it wants to be, but an empty fish net, is an empty fish net

…even if it’s the latest carbon-fiber, titanium-lined, indestructible twine net, with GPS-spotter plane, fuel efficient, carbon credit, carbon neutral, double-hulled, long-distance trawl, Marine Stewardship Council-certified, boat and fairly-paid, union-represented crew.


empty is empty…

(net… river… ocean… shoreline that once had abalone…)

or we… simply… just keep fishing down the food chain until bullheads start looking pretty tasty at the latest and greatest restaurants…

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Great finish to this, from Menzies (and colleague Caroline Butler) paper: “Returning to Selective Fishing through Indigenous Fisheries Knowledge”:

The historical abundance of salmon along the west coast of North America has been significantly reduced during the last two centuries of industrial harvest. Commercial fisheries from California to Alaska and points in between have faced clearly documented restrictions on fishing effort and collapse of specific salmon runs.

Even while salmon runs on some large river systems remain (i.e., the Fraser and Skeena rivers), many smaller runs have all but disappeared. The life histories of many twentieth-century fisheries have been depressingly similar: initial coexistence with indigenous fisheries; emergence of large-scale industrial expansion followed by resource collapse; introduction of limited restrictions on fishing effort, which become increasingly severe, making it hard for fishing communities to survive and to reproduce themselves.

Yet for nearly two millennia prior to the industrial extraction of salmon, indigenous peoples maintained active harvests of salmon, which are estimated to have been at or near median industrial harvests during the twentieth century.

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Menzies raised this point in the discussion part of his presentation today at UNBC.

It’s one of my favorite points, which I’ve used in many presentations over the years.

In simple terms…

…the level of pre-contact salmon fisheries is estimated to actually be higher than the average annual industrial harvest of salmon over the last century.

Wow, I think I felt the flinch in the room today from a few academics…

And then the excuses and questions and qualifiers start flying when some folks realize that the pedestal that academic keeps trying to stand on is jussssst a little bit shaky.

Maybe not even shaky… it’s simply an imagined pedestal.

Just picture the classic Wiley Coyote running off the cliff chasing Road Runner then realizing there’s nothing under him…

Menzies and Butler conclude their paper on selective harvesting:

Scant attention has been paid to traditional fishing techniques and technologies and the ways in which they might contribute to sustainable harvesting and species conservation, and indeed, provide an alternative to current practices.

Traditional knowledge of salmon production may be of significant value in the current search for successful selective fishing techniques for the British Columbian salmon fisheries.

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See that anywhere in DFO’s plans…?

The image at the beginning of this post is from a British newspaper story:

Google Earth reveals fish trap made from rocks 1,000 years ago off British coast

For a millennium it has lain undisturbed beneath the waves a stone’s throw from one of Britain’s best-loved beaches.

But now modern technology has revealed this ancient fish trap, used at the time of the Norman Conquest.

Stretching more than 280 yards along the sea bed, the V-shaped structure was used to catch fish without the need for a boat or rod. Scientists believe it is one of the biggest of its kind. [Menzies might argue this as he’s found kilometres of these along the northwest BC coast]

The trap close to Poppit Sands on the Teifi Estuary in Dyfed was discovered by archaeologists studying aerial photographs of the West Wales coast. [love that term “discovered”]

It was designed to act like a rock pool, trapping fish behind its stone walls as the tide flowed out.

At its point is a gap where fisherman would have placed nets to catch fish. They could also have blocked up the gap, and then scooped up fish trapped in the shallows.

ancient British fish trap

What a concept… so my ancestors in Wales and other areas were using similar selective fishing community-based technology… hmmm.

Pop this into the old search engine ‘ancient rock fish traps’ and you will find examples from around the world: the Arctic, Australia, Hawaii, Indonesia, Mediterranean, and so on…

What a concept, local knowledge being put to use to ‘manage’ a local resource. (and ensuring that resource survives for many human generations…)

I think they call that ‘rocket science’… or is it ‘not’…

science that is… it’s just knowledge… and… ummmm… COMMON SENSE.

Canada’s commitment to wildlife… panda-groan-ium.

Canada's priorities...?


A very successful ‘trade’ mission to China for the “Harper” canadian government…

Harper’s panda diplomacy with China yields cute, cuddly results

CHONGQING, China — The pandas are coming, the pandas are coming!

Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially confirmed Saturday that China has agreed to loan two giant pandas to zoos in Toronto and Calgary for a period of five years each — beginning next year — at a cost of $10 million.

In what had become the worst-kept secret of his trade mission to the Middle Kingdom, Harper visited a zoo in Chongqing to announce that Canada has secured a pair of pandas on loan from China for consecutive five-year periods, beginning with the Toronto Zoo in 2013 and then Calgary in 2018.

Male bear ErShun (which translates into Two/Smooth) is from the Chongqing zoo and female Ji Li (Pretty/Achievement) is from a Chengdu facility. The five-year-old bears are expected to arrive in Toronto by March or April next year.

“The pandas’ visit to Canada represents an important step forward in the blossoming relationship between our two peoples.”

Officials from the two zoos said they have agreed to pay $1 million a year for the bamboo-munchers, for a total of $10 million U.S. over the decade that will go toward panda conservation.

Millions of dollars more will be spent to prepare the zoos and care for the animals, including about $200,000 or so a year in bamboo costs to feed the bears and additional fees to train Canadian panda handlers with help from the Chinese.

However, they expect to fully recover the costs from new sponsorship and an estimated one million or more additional visitors each year when the pandas arrive.

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I’m not sure I fully understand…

I don’t think the Canadian government is necessarily on the hook for the $10 million plus for the pandas… but let’s get this straight:

John Tracogna, CEO of the Toronto Zoo, noted pandas often live in cooler climates in the mountains of China, so chilly Canadian weather shouldn’t be a problem. Zoo exhibits will also be climatized to help meet the needs of the bears, he said.

Ummm… so what are the pandas going to do (the wild ones that is) when China guzzles down the world’s oil, coal, and other resources (including Canada’s) and the climate warms by 5 degrees?

Not all pandas (or wild salmon) for that fact can live in “climatized” zoo exhibits…

And what if we could get “sponsorship” to visit wild salmon spawning in their natural habitat? and in turn put that into wild salmon conservation efforts? or habitat rehabilitation?

Gee, maybe the Pattisson line of companies that own most of the salmon fishing fleet could retire the licenses and do that…? (Sponsored by the “Harper” government…)

Still doubting that marketing is everything and everything is marketing…?

Panda diplomacy has become an integral part of the People’s Republic of China’s relationship with the international community, representing a national symbol of goodwill and the country’s desire for better relations.

Trading bears is a sign of goodwill and peace… wow… what a planet. (wondering if China and Syria ever traded panda bears…?)

I’ve heard of ‘green-washing’; but i’m not sure I’ve heard of ‘panda-washing’… (oh right, that’s the world wildlife fund…)

Really, Mr. Oliver, Natural Resources Minister: Who’s ‘Driven by an ideological imperative’?

does this make sense?

Here we go…

In early January, rookie minister Joe Oliver — federal Minister of Natural Resources penned an open letter to Canadians, suggesting that radical environmentalists and the like were hijacking processes such as the National Energy Board hearings into the proposed Enbridge Northern exit-way Pipeline.

Here’s the CBC story from Jan.:

‘Driven by an ideological imperative’

In an interview on CBC News Network, Oliver said radicals are “a group of people who don’t take into account the facts but are driven by an ideological imperative.”

Review process should be shortened, minister says

Oliver says he thinks the environmental review process can be shorter and still protect Canada.

“Of course it’s a matter of judgment. We want to have enough time, but we don’t want to permit people to hijack the process, and that’s what’s been happening,” he said.

Last month, Oliver criticized the environmental review process as he approved French oil giant Total’s Joslyn North oilsands mine project 65 kilometres northwest of Fort McMurray, Alta. He said he wants to see the process streamlined and shortened to two years.

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Well, let’s stop and take a look at this for a second, Mr. Oliver (errr… honorable)

Definition of “ideological“?

1. Of or relating to ideology.

2. Of or concerned with ideas.

Hmmm. And definition of “ideology“:

the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.

And curious enough, the roots of the word actually mean: originally “philosophy of the mind which derives knowledge from the senses.”

Well, OK… and definition of “imperative“?

1. absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable: ‘It is imperative that we leave.’

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And so of all the National Energy Board hearings thus far into Enbridge’s proposed Northern Exit-way pipeline… there has been nary a peep of support, barely a twitter, rarely a squeak of ‘build it, yes’…

Now, let’s quickly look at “radical”, of which there are several definitions…

1. of or going to the root or origin; fundamental: a radical difference.
2. thoroughgoing or extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms: a radical change in the policy of a company [or country].
3. favoring drastic political, economic, or social reforms: radical ideas; radical and anarchistic ideologues.
4. forming a basis or foundation.
5. existing inherently in a thing or person: radical defects of character.

So, I suppose Mr. Oliver, you are referring to #3 — those crazy radicals favoring drastic political, economic, or social reforms…

Let’s think about that for a second………………

Build a new oil pipeline through north-central BC where one does not currently exist..

Plow over 200+ oil supertankers along the north-central coast of BC and through Hecate Strait where nary few run now…

Does that not imply, then, that building an oil pipeline is in fact the “radical reform” socially, economically, and politically?

And so who, really, are the “radicals” here?

(Not to mention that last time I checked the current “Harper” government is rather full of the old Reform Party brethren — many of those that do not believe in Darwin’s theories or other rather ‘radical’ scientific theories that refute the good holy word…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Let’s step forward a little to today’s headlines:

Chinese ‘frustrated’ by Northern Gateway regulatory delays

Chinese oil executives are growing frustrated with regulatory delays in plans for the Northern Gateway pipeline, even as interest in Canadian oil and gas surges in the energy-hungry country, the head of Enbridge Inc. says.

Enbridge chief executive officer Pat Daniel said despite keen interest here in Canadian oil and gas reserves, this seemingly made-in-heaven match is threatened by delays in the company’s efforts to establish a $5.5-billion, 1,177-kilometre pipeline to carry bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to a deep sea port at Kitimat, B.C., for shipping to Asian markets.

Curious… I certainly don’t remember Mr. Harper celebrating China as a “made in heaven” match just a few short years ago as he celebrated the work of the Dalai Lama…

“They’re frustrated, as we are, in the length of time it takes,” Mr. Daniel said in an interview on the sidelines of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s mission to China. “They’re very anxious to diversify their supply, they’re very dependent on the Middle East for crude.

“[Canada] seems like the perfect match that should last a long time, but if you don’t move it along, people do lose interest. We don’t have forever,” he continued. “The fundamentals in the business can change and you must take advantage of opportunities if and when they present themselves.”

Well… actually, in fact Mr. Daniel, we do have forever… what’s the rush…?

Last I checked China has been around quite some time… some thousands and thousands of years [without Canadian bitumen].

So has the oil in the ground in Canada’s tar sands — also thousands and thousands of years… millions actually.

And, well, the longer the oil stays in the ground, the more valuable it will become… (or obsolete).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Mr. Daniel said they hope to have approvals completed within two years and construction in three, so that oil can begin flowing by late 2016 or early 2017, despite heavy opposition from environmental groups and first nations who fear the impact of an oil spill on some of Canada’s most untouched wilderness and coastline.

Huh… seems there’s this sticky couple hundred year old issue of unsettled treaties in B.C. with First Nations, Mr. Daniel… and… well… your Enbridge team has significantly botched its community relations work in BC.

It’s not just opposition from “environmental” groups. There have been farmers, fisherfolks, unions, teachers, municipalities, mayors, and just average plumbers and carpenters and truck drivers saying: “no thanks Enbridge, no thanks China, no thanks Harper and Oliver.”

And, well, on the coast of BC they’ve been saying that for a long, long time. ’bout as far back as when little Mr. Harper was still wetting his bed.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Well, to spread the headlines around – the National Post is reporting:

China and Canada set for free trade talks as Harper pens multibillion-dollar deals

…The prime minister also announced during his speech to the business forum [in China] that more than 20 commercial agreements — valued at close to $3 billion and involving nearly 50 Canadian and Chinese companies — have been signed during the trade mission to the Middle Kingdom.

“Canada has the resources, technological sophistication, and geo-strategic positioning to complement China’s economic growth strategy. And China’s growth, in turn, complements our determination to diversify our export markets,” Harper told corporate leaders.

“We expect to see similar success stories in Canadian energy exports to China, once infrastructure is in place.”

Harper has said building pipelines to the West Coast — such as the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline and a separate one for liquefied natural gas — is a national priority as Canada looks to ship its vast resources to Asia.

[funny, i think i read that correctly… “proposed”]

Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel said the commitment by the Chinese and Canadian governments for a strategic energy partnership will allow Canada to diversify its oil-and-gas export markets beyond the United States and enable China to broaden its supply base.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Hmmm. Why is Enbridge’s CEO in China with PM Harper on a deal-signing trip?

And… does the changing climate really care about complementing China’s growth strategy, or diversifying Canada’s oil markets?

And what about a National Energy Plan for Canada first — let alone looking to satisfy China’s?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Certainly, China is looking for more oil and gas from Canada, with Chinese vice-premier Li saying Thursday his country wants to increase imports of energy and natural resources from Canada.

State-owned Chinese oil and gas firms have invested more than $10 billion into Alberta’s oilsands and B.C. shale gas plays over the past couple of years alone, and the two partners expect the trend will continue.

“Canada is one of the countries with a deep energy and resource reserve. China, meanwhile, is a large and stable market,” Li, through a translator, told the business forum. He called for “more large-scale cooperation” on petroleum and minerals.

Never before has Canada-China business cooperation been so deep-based and wide ranging,” Li added.

The Chinese leadership is also pushing for the early signing and ratification of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), with Premier Wen Jiabao encouraging the two sides to further explore the feasibility of a full free-trade agreement.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

From human-rights abusers and Harper’s doghouse — to best buds and potential ‘free-trade partners’… in less than six years.

Really, Mr. Oliver, who are the radical ideologues?

Who’s ‘Driven by an ideological imperative’?

(that being definition #2 “thoroughgoing or extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms”)

_ _ _ _ _ _

Lastly, if you’re curious about where rookie 70-year old MP Oliver came from:

Joe Oliver: From Bay Street to Natural Resources

Mr. Oliver spent more than 30 years in the investment world, working at several brokerage firms before becoming executive director of the Ontario Securities Commission and then head of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada.

Do you think he, or past clients might own some Enbridge stocks?

Really, Mr. Oliver, who’s driven by the ideology — those looking to just make another buck, or those looking out for the good of the BC landscape, seascape, and greater global challenge of this little thing called “warming”…?

Enbridge proposed exit-way: the monster destroying itself

Enbridge Northern Gate/ Exit-way III -- "The capitalist monster consuming itself..."


This illustration came about following my reading of physicist as well as author, business thinker, and philosopher Danah Zohar. She has written several books relating quantum physics to the world of business and society in general.

Quantum physics is a fascinating study of the world at a level that begins to boggle the human mind:

Quantum physics is a branch of science that deals with discrete, indivisible units of energy called quanta as described by the Quantum Theory. There are five main ideas represented in Quantum Theory:

  1. Energy is not continuous, but comes in small but discrete units. [hmmm, sounds like wild salmon…]
  2. The elementary particles behave both like particles and like waves.
  3. The movement of these particles is inherently random.
  4. It is physically impossible to know both the position and the momentum of a particle at the same time. The more precisely one is known, the less precise the measurement of the other is.
  5. The atomic world is nothing like the world we live in.

While at a glance this may seem like just another strange theory, it contains many clues as to the fundamental nature of the universe and is more important then even relativity in the grand scheme of things (if any one thing at that level could be said to be more important then anything else). Furthermore, it describes the nature of the universe as being much different then the world we see.

As Niels Bohr said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

I have used the idea of particle/wave duality for many years in many contexts. Simply, if one analyzes a ray of light — say one blasting off the sun at however many millions of km/hr like the current ‘solar storm’ — one will either see light as a series of waves, or, as a collection of particles.

It all depends on what they are looking for, and how they are conducting the test.

At any time light can display properties of waves, or of particles — however never at the same time. Therefore, distinguished scientists could argue until the end of time that their empirical tests show, without a doubt, that light is waves. They could publish peer reviewed articles, books, white papers, memos, briefs, and even assist in drafting legislation to create an international “Day of the light wave”…

And, yet, another group of scientists could also argue until the end of time that light is particles. Proclaiming that all instruments to measure light as waves must be abolished, burned at the stake, heresy, and we must never speak of light as waves again…

And, yet, neither would be wrong (at least about the wave/particle duality) — the kicker is that they might actually have to get together, drop their assumptions and come to understand the others’ perspectives and realize that light is both wave and particle. This is the duality of light… and… probably many other things.

Now one could make this even that much more mind boggling by adding in Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Simply, one can never know the exact position and speed of a particle at the same time — referring to #4 above. (this includes particles that at a fundamental level make up our human bodies).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Ms. Zohar has a post on her blog which quotes one of her books:

Changing capitalism from within

In 2004, in my book Spiritual Capital, I wrote:

Our capitalist culture and the business practices that operate within it are in crisis. Capitalism as we know it today—an amoral culture of short-term self-interest, profit maximization, emphasis on shareholder value, isolationist thinking, and profligate disregard of long-term consequences—is an unsustainable system, a monster set to destroy itself.

I did not expect my prophesy to come true so quickly, but our current financial and economic meltdown demonstrates the truth of what I said. Capitalism is, indeed, in crisis, and the monster has destroyed itself. But now the question facing all the world’s leaders is, what can replace it? On the answer depends not just the soundness of our economic system, but the sustainability of advanced human culture itself.

The answer to the present crisis being suggested by virtually everyone is more regulation of the markets and of the business practices used within them. But a few extra regulations won’t bring about the change that we need. We’ve tried Keynesian economics and socialism in the past, and we know that both dampen down the creativity and output of the markets. As both George Soros and I have pointed out, our global capitalist system is a self-organizing system poised at the edge of chaos. When such systems are exposed to outside control, they seize up.

No, to change capitalism in a way that sustains the freedom and creativity of the markets, capitalism must change itself, from the inside. This kind of change will require a radically new leadership ethic, one driven by a new set of motivations and a broader understanding of wealth.

Capitalism as we know it has been driven by the lower motivations of greed and self-interest. Business leaders have been out for themselves, and their own drive to increase their personal and corporate material wealth. Nothing good can ever come from actions driven by negative motivations. They only evoke and reinforce other negative motivations, in this case fear and anger.

Customers, consumers, home owners, and the capitalists themselves are filled with fear today, and all but the capitalists are angry that the present situation has been allowed to happen. Those capitalists with any conscience are now filled with still deeper negative motivations of guilt and shame.

The only thing that can change behaviour driven by negative motivations is behaviour driven by higher, positive motivations—exploration, cooperation, personal and situational mastery, generativity and higher service. Business leaders must become servant leaders, leaders who serve not just themselves and share holders, but leaders who serve employees, customers, the community, the planet, humanity, future generations, and life itself. This new leadership ethic will require a revolution.

Not a revolution with guns and bullets [think of recent US imperialist invasions, and Iran’s threats in Middle East to block oil routes], and, God forbid, not a regulatory revolution, but a revolution in thought, and a consequent revolution in moral behaviour. Business must become a vocation, like the higher professions, and capitalists’ sense of wealth creation must expand to include spiritual capital—wealth accrued by acting on our highest aspirations and deepest values.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now some may jump on the: “well that’s a bunch of fru-fru, hairy-fairy, bumpf…”-Train.

Fair enough.

However, it’s hard to look at the proposed Enbridge Northern exit-way pipeline and see how this makes much sense. And at the same time it’s quite reassuring to see  regular BC residents stepping up and saying “NO”. In all of the hearings thus far being conducted by the National Energy Board in various BC communities. The sentiment has been “NO” to the proposal.

As Zohar describes: Capitalism as we know it today—an amoral culture of short-term self-interest, profit maximization, emphasis on shareholder value, isolationist thinking, and profligate disregard of long-term consequences—is an unsustainable system, a monster set to destroy itself.

Hard to disagree with that thought… especially when one starts to think of the dangers posed by having a pipeline and tanker traffic (over 200 super-oiltankers a year on BC’s north coast)… simply to export raw bitumen to China. Even to a hardcore capitalist, it can’t make sense to be sending away an immensely valuable product, unrefined. Where’s the value-added in that?

Time for a change?

What does that look like, feel like, and sound like…?

And smell like? As the residents in Abbotsford would suggest after the oil spill there yesterday from Kinder Morgan’s pipeline.

Maslow’s salmon? how do they self actualize?

Maslow's salmon research?


[Click on image to see full size…]

Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal is all about satisfying (some) people’s need for $$$$ (and oil) and overcoming adversity, bla, bla, bla…

Who speaks for the salmon? How do they self actualize?

Who looks out for their ‘safety’, their ‘physiological’ needs?

(let me guess… pipeline building and operation “best practices”… good ‘ol “we don’t do it like that anymore…”)


Once upon a wild salmon…history’s a bitch.

Oregon salmon cannery early 1900s -- Oregon State University archives


Randomly came across these photos from the early 1900s. This is “salmon management” at its best. This is what “salmon management” of the day is built upon. This is what “fisheries management” is built upon.

Fish first, manage later… (look no further then the current herring fisheries opening in the Salish Sea, or the soon to be opened sport fisheries on early-timed Fraser Chinook).

Oregon salmon canneries -- early 1900s -- oh the Chinook?

And where did these beauties go?

Was there not a time in British Columbia when the Springs, the Smilies, the Chinook, the Kings… would line up like this?

Ever study economics?

Ever hear of the concept of ‘the law of diminishing returns’?

Here’s a brief little quote from Wikipedia:

The law of diminishing returns (also law of diminishing marginal returns or law of increasing relative cost) states that in all productive processes, adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower per-unit returns.The law of diminishing returns does not imply that adding more of a factor will decrease the total production, a condition known as negative returns, though in fact this is common.

For example, the use of fertilizer improves crop production on farms and in gardens; but at some point, adding more and more fertilizer improves the yield less per unit of fertilizer, and excessive quantities can even reduce the yield. A common sort of example is adding more workers to a job, such as assembling a car on a factory floor. At some point, adding more workers causes problems such as getting in each other’s way, or workers frequently find themselves waiting for access to a part.

In all of these processes, producing one more unit of output per unit of time will eventually cost increasingly more, due to inputs being used less and less effectively. [key point]

The law of diminishing returns is a fundamental principle of economics…

It’s also a fundamental concept within “fisheries” management that they don’t seem to teach at the leading “fisheries” science institutions…

If you keep catching all the ‘hogs’ — the big ones — then eventually there’s going to be little left but small ones…then no ones…

Same thing happened with North Atlantic Cod prior to the big collapse. All the big ones started disappearing and sizes became smaller and smaller and more uniform… diminishing genetic diversity.

Unfortunately, good ‘ol Darwin and his ‘survival of the fittest‘ doesn’t apply when a salmon has no choice about what gill net, seine net, sport hook, or other fishing method catches it. Nor, the obsession of the current human to catch the ‘biggest’ fish…

It did apply though when there was little human intervention… bigger fish, better survival often times, eggs buried deeper in gravel, and so on… more bigger fish, more diversity.

Oregon wild salmon seining -- early 1900s -- Oregon State University archives

Get ’em out however possible…

these times seem to have largely gone with the days of the "iron chink"... (cannery hardware)

The point here isn’t to lament the past, necessarily — but don’t we ever learn?

Folks of the day also said that whole hog logging, placer mining, building dams, and pillaging the seas and river mouths could all ‘happily co-exist’… no problemo… let’s Just Do It (as a well known multinational company based in Portland proclaims).

Freedom, free enterprise, market economies, maximum sustainable yield… let’s do it.

Is this really all that different then what Justice Cohen just heard for two years at the Cohen Commission into the Fraser River sockeye declines?

Or how about the five previous “commissions” prior to that…?

Same conclusion, most likely… we can’t really conclusively “prove” that these practices damage wild salmon… it’s death of a thousand cuts… change is too hard… don’t rock the boat… (gee whiz, I retire with full government pension in five years, don’t hang me out to dry here…)

And, well… you probably know the rest of the story…

discarding North Coast chum — make sense? (If it’s broke — it probably needs a fixin…)

spawning chum

This comment was posted recently under the post: If it’s broke; it probably needs a fixin’… wild salmon “management” in Canada

Seems like something might be ‘broke’… (thanks for the comment Greg).

North Coast commercial salmon fishermen have discarded almost 22% of their total catch so far this year, including 1.2 million pounds of chum salmon, many coming from stocks DFO has described as being of “special conservation concern”. One-half of these chum discards came from areas in and around the Great Bear Rainforest.

Unlike most other BC fisheries there are no independent observers to confirm the accuracy of the discard information provided by fishermen. At least two DFO science papers and a recent J.O.Thomas Report have expressed concerns about fishermen “underhailing” their discards. Hence, the number of fish reported by DFO as having been discarded should be considered a “minimum” estimate.

In addition, the absence of independent observers means that fisheries are not monitored to ensure fishermen abide by their “Terms of Licence” and return the discarded salmon back into the water “with the least possible harm”. There are no scientifically defensible estimates of the proportion of discarded chum that survive to spawn, but it is believed to be relatively low.

DFO requires that chums be discarded as a “conservation measure”. Yet, DFO cannot provide scientifically defensible estimates of how many chum salmon are discarded, the proportion that survive to spawn, the consequences of killing so many salmon from depressed populations, or the associated ecological costs.

Why is this allowed to occur?

1. Chums are of no commercial value on the North Coast. In fact, they are a cost to fishermen. Discarding chums slows the fishing process. The objective is to discard the unwanted salmon as fast as possible rather doing all that can be done to ensure they survive the encounter.

2. The recreational sector has little interest in north and central coast chums and therefore places little value on them.

3. Most of the impacted chum stocks are located in wild and remote areas of BC like the Great Bear Rainforest, isolated from the majority of BC’s population, and therefore “out of sight, out of mind”.

In contrast, management of chum fisheries on the South Coast reflects the economic and social value people living on the south coast place in their salmon. Commercial fisheries targeting chum salmon are managed to a maximum 15% commercial harvest rate. There are significant and growing recreational fisheries for chums in both salt and fresh water. Eco-businesses have flourished taking people to gaze in wonder and awe at grizzly bears feasting on salmon. And watching chum spawn in local streams is a major event in many communities.

In order to save North Coast chum salmon DFO needs to be told that the value of these fish should be measured not just in dollars. That as British Columbians we value our wild places, our bears, our steams, and our forests. And what binds it all together is our salmon.

They are too important to be discarded. North Coast chum salmon stocks need to be rebuilt and protected.

Greg Taylor
SkeenaWild Conservation Trust
August 5, 2011

Alaskan salmon fisheries: is this sustainable – or a great intervention?

During a quick look around Twitter and the ‘tweets’ of some fishy folk, I came across various news articles from other geographic areas with wild salmon fisheries. It got me pondering the great Alaskan salmon fisheries experiment

Here is salmon catch in Alaska for the last century… or so… (the PNP program is the “public — non-profit program” for running salmon hatcheries – ocean ranching operations).


Are these levels sustainable into the future?

Is there any way possible that this is sustainable into the future?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Here are two other telling graphs:


Anchovies... South America

Canada's North Atlantic cod catch


Is there a trend here?










That trend has a common shape… and curiously the Alaskan commercial salmon catch has a price trend that may be foreshadowing the catch trend…



(Remember, there was no shortage of salmon being caught prior to 1878 — especially in Alaska where Russian and other ‘explorers’ and ‘settlers’ were pillaging the coast for sea otter furs for quite some time prior to 1878 — And First Nations and Inuit had been harvesting wild salmon for eons prior to ‘contact’ — including in a commercial context for trade…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now, let’s add another even more worrisome trend into this Alaskan commercial salmon catch graph:


Hatchery to wild salmon commercial catch in Alaska

This graph comes compliments of “The Great Salmon Run: competition between farmed and wild salmon” (Knapp, Roheim and Anderson, 2007). It’s suggesting that the average hatchery-salmon catch is starting to approach 25% of the commercial catch in Alaska — or ocean ranching as they call it.

As the black boxes in the graph demonstrate, and as history most likely teaches us, the great intervention will need to continue to maintain catch levels that high. As we move into the second and third decades of the 2000s the hatchery-ocean ranching intervention will need to continue and the percentage of catch supplied by human intervention will continue.

The potential problem here is that this is a nasty little cycle that no one really wants to talk about…

_ _ _ _ _ _

Hatcheries/Ocean ranching operations in Alaska are run by the PNPs — the “public — non-profit partnerships” . These were formed in the 1970s and 80s when the State of Alaska took over management of wild salmon from the Feds (as shown in the graphs).

These PNPs are largely operated by commercial fishing associations and the like. This means that the hatcheries-ocean ranching operations were set up under the same auspices of Canada’s Salmon Enhancement Program (SEP) — to increase salmon production and therefore increase commercial salmon catches.

These grand industrial/ecological balance upsetting experiments began in earnest in the 1970s. A time of a different mainstream cultural mindset, and a different understanding of ecological processes (well… sort of…).

In Alaska, the key to keeping these PNP Aquaculture Associations (hatchery-ocean ranching operations) afloat is that salmon caught commercially have:

FIRST — a cost recovery component and then

SECOND — a profit motive for the commercial fishing folks.

However, as one can see in the graphs above — stupendous salmon catch levels are being maintained at over 200 million fish across Alaska; YET the price levels are falling faster than the 2008 Dow Jones stock market index. (And cracks are starting to show in whether these catch levels can be maintained — see Yukon River fishery disaster at end of post)

And just like the stock market, sure there’s been a little blip back up in price — but nothing that resembles past price levels.

What does this mean for the Alaskan Hatchery-Ocean Ranching Operations?

Here’s a sample from one of the annual reports: The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association 2008 Annual Report.

Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association (CIAA) was created to make more salmon for all users in Cook Inlet. Our forefathers hoped to provide a home for salmon biology; to gather ideas and knowledge, and a means of broadcasting this science to fishing communities and to the general public. These founding visionaries clearly planned to have a hatchery. (my emphasis)

Quite a fascinating opening to an annual report… I’m not one to quite buy-in to the philosophy of salmon hatcheries as manifest destiny… however, each to their own…

The annual report goes on to explain:

Meanwhile, the CIAA hatchery program also continues to financially struggle. A new sockeye project at Tutka Bay was very successful in 2008. Recent high prices for early hatchery-produced sockeye at Resurrection Bay have also shown promise. I’m currently holding my breath and hoping adjustments to the cost recovery program are successful, concurrent with improvements in ocean survival for the Resurrection Bay stocking.

About 15 hatcheries across Alaska have closed and facilities at Crooked Creek, Eklutna, Port Graham, and Tutka Bay are among them. These sites continue to be used for various projects, but at a fraction of their capabilities. I believe CIAA needs to find funding to maintain operation of Trail Lakes Hatchery. Achieving escapement goals for all systems in Cook Inlet and financing a hatchery are challenging endeavors, but they are essential for the many users of today’s salmon.

We need to find a way through the financial problems we are facing and then begin to build a healthy revenue reserve. The men and women who founded CIAA were wise to do so. I am proud to join them in their effort to realize more salmon for all users.

And so now hatchery/ocean ranching operations are having to close due to financial hardship. Furthermore, some of the practices such as lake fertilization, and mass hatchery operations are starting to show some serious issues on the ecological front. Some of these are even highlighted in the good old Marine Stewardship Council audits of the Alaskan salmon fishery (however, that’s a separate post…)

In short, the mass practice of hatchery releases has huge impacts on wild, self-sustaining populations — in terms of loss of genetic diversity and in terms of giving a false sense of security in opening certain fisheries.

_ _ _ _ _ _

And so now the vicious cycle begins — something akin to this:


Alaskan PNPs... the vicious cycle

And so what is a State government to do?

It has set this mess up through its devolution from Fed responsibility.

If more hatcheries go belly up (like a salmon in an oil spill) this means less salmon going to sea and the less salmon we will see (returning).

This means lower catch, which means less $$ for commercial fishing industry… and less $$ in cost-recovery initiatives of these public — non-profit aquaculture operations.

Less fish going out, less fish coming in, less money coming in.

Interim solution?

Catch more fish to bring in more $$ to curb the debt load.

Catching more fish means less fishing spawning and producing naturally. Less fish producing naturally, and less fish being propagated by humans — means less fish to catch down the road.

What does this all set up?

Government bail-out.

Bail out of the fishing industry — like US government had to do on the Yukon River last year.

Anchorage Daily News reporting in January 2010:

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke declared a commercial fishing disaster for Yukon River king salmon Friday following two years of poor runs, fishing restrictions and bans.

“Communities in Alaska along the Yukon River depend heavily on chinook salmon for commercial fishing, jobs and food,” Locke said in a statement from the Commerce Department. “Alaska fishermen and their families are struggling with a substantial loss in income and revenues.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

When we intervene with most anything — e.g. oil-rich dictator run countries — history suggests that these interventions can — in the long-run — become very, very expensive and sometimes counterproductive.

When it comes to wild salmon — the interventions are endless (hatcheries, fertilization schemes, fake habitat construction, and so on…).

The problem is that once the interventions start ‘working’ everyone seems to forget they were interventions in the first place. And so we return to how things used to be — before the interventions…

The result?

A worse frigging situation than prior to the intervention.

Look at the US bank and auto industry bailout packages — do you really think the ridiculous executive compensation packages have stopped?

Or, that auto executives curbed their flying around in private jets?

Are individual citizens taking the example of debt out-of-control and curbing their own household debt?


Maybe we need to look at the root of the word and put it in the right context…

intervene comes from Latin intervenire “to come between, interrupt.”

Various definitions suggest: “Come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events”

Or most fitting for this situation: “Occur as a delay or obstacle to something being done.”

And what were we, or are we, “delaying”?

The inevitable.

If we continue to hammer away at salmon runs and at salmon habitats and ignore the potential perils of climate change and its affect on salmon and their habitat… we will reach a time when no intervention will offset the inevitable collapse…

What are we potentially delaying in relation to “something being done”.

That’s called lack of political will… (and public pressure)

And nobody wants to make the real tough decision… e.g. intervene on the interventions… because that will cost…

And the public has a tough time exerting pressure because the world of salmon and “salmon management” has become the world of technocrats, techno-bumpf, endless hundreds of pages government documents, inaccessible meetings flooded with inaccessible PowerPoint presentations, inaccessible government bureaucrats (e.g. “sorry that’s not my department), inaccessible language, and legislation that simply is not enforced, legal teams with little interest in enforcing and the list goes on…

Is it time for a full-on public intervention?

A Citizen’s Assembly on Wild Salmon?