Category Archives: What if…?

Interesting website: 19, 20, 21 — Keeping our reality in Check.

Earth at night

19 Cities in the World with

20 Million people in the

21st Century.


It’s a collection of slides — similar to a PowerPoint presentation (a decent one, thank ghad):

No two cities in the world, or even cities within the same country, ask the same questions that result in data that describes themselves. No two cities create maps to the same scale, or with identical legends.

And along with an actively ticking total world population clock…which has us at about 6.89 Billion (when I visited last).

In 1800, less than 3% of the world lived in cities. Most people lived their entire lives without ever seeing one.

In 1900, 150 million people lived in the world’s cities. That number now surged past 3 billion and last year crossed another tipping point: more than half the people on earth now live in cities. By 2050 – it will be 2/3 of us. Humans are now an urban species, cramming into vast urban agglomerations.

The population, including the public and private sector, is currently not prepared for life in these intensely urban hubs, nor have communication strategies been honed to handle the resulting clutter in the urban marketplace.

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The biggest city listed (in 2005)? Tokyo at over 35 million… that’s more than all of Canada.

Shenzen, China -- #24 on list at 8 million+

I recently traveled through and flew over #24 on the list: Shenzen, China just north of Hong Kong.

It was listed as 7 million + in 2005; however, is now listed at over 8 million. It is also considered one of the fastest growing cities in China — if not the world.

Shenzen, China

And then throw in Guangzhou, China just a little to the northwest of Shenzen with more than 8 million.

Guangzhou, China 8 million+

Curiously, Shenzen, China and Hong Kong are defined as separate cities.

And really, they are politically. There’s still a border crossing between the two.

But really, there is not much geographic distance between the two. About an hour and a bit drive from downtown to downtown.

Hong Kong has a population of approximately 7 million and is considered one of the most densely populated places in world, as well as the world’s largest shipping port.

Shenzen is the third largest shipping port behind HK and Shanghai.

Hong Kong shipping port and high density living


Hong Kong shipping port


Hong Kong shipping and living


With these three cities alone, this means a population of well over 25 million (30 million with surrounding areas) in a small geographic region.

How many cities in the 19,20, 21 project in Canada?


How many in North America?

Three: New York, Los Angeles, and Mexico City.

I suppose it’s important to try and keep our reality in check…

Bullshit Bingo Card

Salmon Think Tank

Last night I attended the Simon Fraser University sponsored Speaking for the Salmon Series: which consisted of a recent “Scientific Think Tank” presenting its findings from a recent “Think Tank” on: The Ups and Downs of Fraser River Sockeye.

It was an interesting presentation by some good folks that have spent a lot of time ‘studying’ salmon. Many folks that I have respect for in their dedication and energy in exploring these issues. I can also appreciate that the group last night approached the issue with a certain amount of openness to other perspectives.

However, just as I mentioned in my comments last night at the public presentation — what really can one expect the outcomes to be from a gathering of some 35 scientists?

Well… from the summary paper given to attendees last night:

“efforts should be made to develop a coordinated multi-disciplinary research program to address these issues” (e.g. ups and downs of Fraser sockeye).

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So a group of scientists get together, 23 listed on the sheet from last night, 21 with “Dr.” preceding their name — and a big recommendation coming from the Think Tank is: “more science, more research.”

My thoughts passed along last night… if we got 20+ economists together to discuss the salmon issue — they would most likely suggest an approach that would explore: ‘supply & demand’, ‘cost benefit analsyis’, and marginal benefits…

If we got 20+ teachers together to discuss salmon issues — they would most likely recommend curriculum development, teaching tools, and classroom activities…

If we got 20+ lawyers together (e.g. not much unlike the Cohen Commission) — they would most likely recommend some legal analysis, constitutional rights, and legal precedent…

If we got 20+ politicians together — they would most likely launch into the importance of ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’ and ‘open & transparent processes’ and the importance of their ‘constituents…

And thus scientists recommending more science  — isn’t too surprising.

(of course they did also turn up the pressure on implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy too…)

I sort of ponder what would happen if we got 20+ salmon together to discuss the issue…

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As I mentioned last night, and in posts on this site —- what if instead of repeated Commissions and Inquiries and Auditor General reports, we established a process not much unlike the Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform which finished its work in BC in 2004.

With this type of process, there are no experts, or preeminent scientists, or folks that tend to use lots of big words, or bureaucratic drivelers or politicians — driving the process. Those sorts of folks are just advisers making recommendations.

It’s average joe and jill folks, randomly chosen, that evaluate the information and release their recommendations. Good plain old common sense, intuition, and street smarts — all used to look for ideas, potential actions, and solid recommendations. And, in the case of the Citizen’s Assembly, it went to a referendum.

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As with any ‘group’ of people — when a group gets together that is all versed in the same language and mode of thinking, it can become challenging to really step outside the confines of that world and really think with some innovation. (even good, well-meaning individuals like salmon scientists).

One of the other problems is that some language becomes common-place — when used in the world outside of the room, average folks need some serious translation. And sometimes, after awhile, some words just don’t really mean anything at all — they become like the empty nutrients in a chocolate bar, or Coke Zero, or something to that effect…

“ecosystem-based management” as one of the finest examples of this.

For this purpose, I had a post awhile back on Bumpf-Word Bingo.

Last night, this idea came up in casual conversation — and for any of those folks attending the Cohen Commission or other fisheries meetings — we can politely rename this Bullshit Bingo.

And here is your playing card. Standard Bingo rules apply: when you black out a line, or an entire card, you shout out “Bullshit”!

stewardship conservation implementation plans ecosystem objectives variables
sustainability ecosystem restoration benchmarks policy
strategic planning biodiversity transparency best practices safeguard
performance indicators extirpation establish linkages baseline monitoring ecosystem integrity
comprehensive escapement data management adaptive management framework

This would be all the more interesting if some folks would put up some prizes for the game… happy playing.

decolonizing salmon management?

a rather odd recent presentation by DFO to First Nations reps

As folks that read this blog from time to time have probably noticed, I often note Globe & Mail articles in my post. I was drawn to one today:

Who will pay for the environmental mess we’re in?

The article starts:

Cancun’s white beaches and resort hotels provide a fitting setting for a global argument over the rich world’s responsibility for damaging the Earth’s environment and the extent of its “climate debt” to poorer nations.

Divisions between the rich and poor – so apparent in such sunny vacation spots – have fueled bitter debates that threaten to block progress at the United Nations climate summit under way on the Mayan Riviera…

I don’t think I am the only one that finds some irony in the idea of hundreds, if not thousands of people, flying across the globe to attend a conference on climate change.

However, what peaked my attention a little more from this article:

The recognition of differing levels of responsibility between developed and developing countries has been embedded for decades in international agreements that deal with the growing climate crisis.

Based on 160 years of fossil-fueled economic growth, the industrialized world has emitted an estimated 75 per cent of the man-made greenhouse gases that remain trapped in the atmosphere.

Globally, energy-related emissions have climbed to 29 billion tonnes a year from 200 million tonnes in 1850 as the developed world relied on coal-fired electricity and oil-fueled transportation to deliver unprecedented prosperity to its citizens.

I heard a news report the other day that 2010 is shaping up to be the third hottest year globally, ever recorded in history… curious that.

The article continues:

Bolivian President Evo Morales has been leading the case for the prosecution, calling not only for reparations but also a “people’s tribunal” to impose monetary and criminal sanctions on offending rich-world governments and corporations.

Last April, Mr. Morales played host to the People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which issued a manifesto calling on rich countries to finance the “decolonization of the atmosphere.” The Cochabamba Accord was endorsed by activist groups throughout the developed world.

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This idea of ‘decolonization‘ is certainly not a new one; however, it seems to be surfacing more in various areas. Here in northern BC, I started hearing the term more frequently in 2007 when Northwest Community College (based in Terrace, BC) started an institution-wide initiative called “Decolonizing Education“.

Since 2007, NWCC has hosted a conference called “Challenging the Paradigm” . In the invite to this years conference the letter states:

Northwest Community College is on a transformative journey to indigenize the culture and practice of how it provides education in Northwest British Columbia. This involves learning from Aboriginal values and needs, and taking direction from the communities. We base our approach on respect, relationships and responsibility.

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Yet, this idea is not just some small regional idea… the United Nations has had dedicated Committees for Decolonization since the 1960s and even a question and answer (Q & A) sheet. The UN also had two successive “International Decades for the eradication of Colonialism” . The second of which is just about to end in less than a month (2001-2010).

Going all the way back to 1960 the UN adopted Resolution 1514: also known as the “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” or simply “Declaration on Decolonization” .

It states that all people have a right to self-determination and proclaimed that colonialism should be brought to a speedy and unconditional end.

Now reading through this material, one might ask “hey salmonguy, the UN work is largely for countries working towards self determination in places like Africa and the Caribbean that were long under colonial rule… This isn’t really relevant in Canada…”

Maybe in parts of Canada where Treaties were negotiated with indigenous people… but, certainly not here in large sections of British Columbia where no Treaties exist — would be the response from salmonguy.

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Canada and British Columbia have exerted ownership and control over the lands, rivers, and coasts (out to 200 miles) of B.C. (and the critters that inhabit those) — e.g. the common belief that most every open space is “Crown Land” . Those powers are divided up in Canada through Sections 91 and 92 of Canada’s Constitution.

Yet, this is a great misconception.

British Columbia has been engaged in a Treaty Process with First Nations for about 18 years now. This, in simple terms, means that much of B.C. remains: disputed territory.

One could draw an analogy with the many disputes around the world over territory — places like the island recently shelled by North Korea… disputed territory. Or, the ongoing disputes between Israel and Palestine.. disputed territory.

Or… closer to my own heritage: the disputes over the Alsace-Lorraine area between France and Germany. Or, Ireland and England (e.g. Northern Ireland), Wales, Scotland… disputed territory.

Or right here in Canada with the discussions surrounding Quebec.

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Territorial disputes are complicated things… and in BC, the issue of Treaties with First Nations and the growing body of case law and policies on aboriginal rights and title  — is no exception.

Plus, in British Columbia, and the ongoing kangaroo court of a Treaty process, is stumbling, bumbling, and fumbling in reaching resolution of a complicated 150 years, or so, of history between colonial contactees and First Nations folks and communities.

The Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser River sockeye, commissioned a research paper on this issue: The Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Framework Underlying the Fraser River Sockeye Salmon Fishery. It’s a “simple” 66-page read…along with the 70 page read on International Law, and 15-page read on the Legislative Framework.

As explained at paragraph 145 of the Aboriginal and Treaty rights paper:

With relatively few historic treaties and even fewer concluded modern treaties, it appears that, in many cases, fisheries management decisions will require consideration of proven or unproven aboriginal rights and title as opposed to negotiated treaty rights.

Yet, as continued in the next paragraph… even if treaties were settled, this is not necessarily conclusive on the issue — paragraph 146:

Also, although treaties may be an important source of information in assessing the rights held by aboriginal peoples, they nevertheless cannot be taken as comprehensive. As articulated by the Court in Mikisew Cree, “[t]reaty making is an important stage in the long process of reconciliation, but it is only a stage” and as such, a treaty is “not the complete discharge of the duty arising from the honour of the Crown, but a rededication of it.”

What is central to the salmon issue from the colonial perspective — at least at this point in the history of BC and established case law,  is the “honour of the Crown” and “the Duty to consult.

Cohen Commission report, paragraph 159:

The “Crown’s assertion of sovereignty over an aboriginal people and the de facto control of land and resources that were formerly in the control of that people” is the foundation for the Crown‟s duty of honourable conduct. The honour of the Crown is always at stake in its dealings with aboriginal peoples and it is this honour that may give rise to a duty to consult aboriginal peoples in a process of fair dealing and reconciliation. (my emphasis)

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Reconciliation — at its core, means “to become compatible or consistent” .

At its root is ‘conciliate’: To make or attempt to make compatible.

The example sentence for ‘reconciliation’ from the Free Online Dictionary is a perfect one in this case:

reconcile my way of thinking with yours. (See Synonyms at “adapt”.)

So there you have it, there is ‘adaptation’ required on all sides of the equation; from all sides of this complexity.

There is a reconciliation required, which at its roots means that all sides must seek to find some compatibility.

Unfortunately, my experiences thus far in this work of salmon; in this long-stretching discussion about how we all look after salmon… is largely governed by dictation.

And I use that term in its multiple meanings.. for example: “to read aloud” — Or, to “prescribe with authority; impose.”

More unfortunate, is that many well-meaning folks within the institution that has been given responsibility for ensuring conservation of salmon, paragraph 156 of Cohen Commission report:

Conservation, in particular, is a responsibility that the Court has stated is shouldered by the federal government alone…

may not have a very good understanding of the history of First Nations people and communities in BC and their relationship with salmon — and most likely, have very little understanding of the atrocities, challenges, and highly-unbalanced political reality of the last 150 years (or so) of history. (Some folks may, however, most… not likely).

Add in the highly unbalanced financial and technical reality of participating meaningfully in decision-making, policy-making, and fisheries decisions regarding BC’s salmon — and I ask:

How is reconciliation achieved?

If to ‘conciliate’ suggests attempts to make thinking and cultural realities ‘compatible’…. and “reconciliation” means to: reconcile my way of thinking with yours…

How do we do that in the current reality, current climate, and current governing regime?

Yes, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, as part of the federal government, currently has the mandate to ensure “conservation” of salmon.

However, they also have a responsibility to act honorably and consult meaningfully with First Nations.

dominant DFO scientific paradigm

How is that done through the confines, paradigms, and mental models of the dominant colonial culture? How is that done through the overly-intense focus on science and statistics?

And how is that done through a court system that is composed of largely foreign laws in relation to indigenous communities?

Maybe, as Northwest Community College has indicated, this: “involves learning from Aboriginal values and needs, and taking direction from the communities. “?

And furthermore, maybe the key to the approach is respect, relationships and responsibility.

This is going to require some decolonizing of salmon management… so that the federal government’s way of thinking is reconciled with First Nation communities way of thinking… so that the scientific paradigm is reconciled with traditional and community knowledge… so that the understanding of settler cultures relationship with salmon is reconciled with indigenous cultures relationship with salmon.

Maybe even, so that our own human relationship is reconciled with salmon…

If… as so many people suggest… this is truly about the fish; about the salmon… then some serious reconciliation, understanding, and meeting with open hearts and minds — will be required.

Continued conflict, bickering, and narrow mental models will only make our relationship with salmon all the more strained — and thus our relationships with ourselves.

Pacific salmon: death of a thousand cuts…?

In relation to posts this past week and the plea from lawyers at the Cohen Commission into the decline of Fraser sockeye for a ‘conference’ to discuss the paper load…

salmon threats

I looked around online and came up with some potential solutions:

simplify 101?

I'm tired of clutter...

aka: garbage bags








Hey… maybe that could be the name of the conference —

Cohen Commission: Clutter free & Clearly organized

(Alliteration at its finest…)

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On a separate note… I appreciated this post from Godin’s blog:

The bright line of small differences

Is there a schism between the folks who love color tattoos and those that like black & white ones? Or the fans of the original Star Trek who hate the folks who like the far inferior newer Star Trek models?

Freud noticed it too.

Here’s why it happens:

First, you have to care. When people care about a brand or a cause or an idea, it’s likely that have other things in common. And the caring causes them to invest attention. Once they’ve done that, they can’t help but notice that others don’t see things the way they do. We ignore the great unwashed and reserve our disdain for those like us, that care like us, but don’t see things as we do.

The really good news is that the tribe cares. If you don’t have that, you’ve got nothing of value. In fact, the squabbling among people who care is the first sign you’re on to something.

Hmmm… squabbling and salmon… those don’t go hand in hand – do they?

Fraser Sockeye: responding to commentary

One individual has left some long though-out comments in recent days on this weblog, and I figured I’d post one of my responses today as a post (sometimes the comments don’t see the same traffic).

The comment trail for this is in the previous post to this one: “Duh! Killing more fish isn’t the way to get more fish”. You can follow some of the discussion there. Here’s my comment from today:

Some thoughts on your shared thoughts and questions:

Interesting to hear that the record spawners of 2002 was not necessarily the case in 06 in Quesnel Lakes. The estimated run sizes for this year reflect that. The Adams/Weaver has now ballooned to an estimated 25,000,000 total return this year. From an initial pre-season forecast of about 8,000,000 we can see where the huge missed forecast largely stems from. The increase of 17,000,000 on the Adams/Weaver alone is a big piece of the total Fraser pre-season growing from about 11 million to now close to 35 million.

From a biodiversity perspective, this is quite worrisome. Many, many folks are ‘celebrating’ the huge return this year, yet it is only one stock (Adams/Weaver) that is comprising over 70% of the total Fraser run this year. Great that there’s more numbers… however the stock complexes that really need to see better returns may very well not see increased run sizes. For example, the Early Stuart group is still in dismal shape. Bowron is still looking dismal. Nadina fish (far upper Fraser) are apparently experiencing heavy pre-spawn mortality.

It’s the small runs, the diverse runs, that really need to see some recovery. One of the huge worries of mine about the Adams/Weaver comprising so much of the run — is that they are so susceptible to high pre-spawn mortality due to high water temps. We may have dodged a bit of a bullet this year with a cooler last half of Aug. and early Sept. but four years from now, or eight?

Added to this concern, is that one run comprising 70% of the total run, and at the huge numbers of this year, precipitates huge pressures to get fishing — see MP John Cummins most recent press release… Yet, chasing one run through terminal marine fisheries always means mixed stock impacts (less healthy sockeye runs, steelhead, in-big-trouble interior coho and so on — as you probably well know).

The comparison can be drawn to the Skeena River where the enhanced, spawning channel Babine sockeye run comprises about 90% of the total Skeena sockeye population. When it returns in good numbers — commercial marine fisheries are opened and this means all sorts of impacts on other less healthy stocks — e.g. Sustut and Bear Lake sockeye, Morice Lake sockeye, Skeena steelhead and so on. It’s a dangerous game.

This leads me to the comments on the Fraser “groups”, “stocks”, Conservation Units, etc.
That is a disaster from a management perspective.

You’re exactly right; the Early Stuart ‘group’ is comprised of well over 19 separate stocks — however DFO ‘manages’ it to only the ‘Group’ level — i.e. Early Stuarts. And as far as I know Early Stuarts are only one conservation unit (CU). This is evident in the fine piece of junk: the Fraser River spawning sockeye initiative (FRSSI). Early Stuarts are only looked at as one entity — not the multiple stocks, that you rightly point out, it is comprised of.

And in fact, the Fraser sockeye CUs change as fast as the Pacific Salmon Commission’s in-season run estimates. Last I heard, Fraser sockeye CUs are now down to about 38 from the 44 you mention. At a pre-season meeting this spring, absolutely no one from DFO could definitively say how many Fraser sockeye CUs there are – and what they are… and these were some of the most senior DFO staff members going on the salmon front — including the lead Wild Salmon Policy ‘implementer’.

(you know the old: “who’s on first? where’s second?” jingle… or as I’ve heard other much-more-experienced-than-me individuals suggest: who the hell is in charge around there?)

And so here’s my point in a nutshell… see earlier post Free Money-Part II as well…

200 distinct Fraser sockeye stocks — yes, it may be difficult to manage to every distinct stock. However, there’s only enough information on about 19 distinct stocks to inform management models and fishing decisions (see any DFO publications on the FRSSI model; it’s only working with 19 stocks within the four run timing “Groups”). And worse yet, there is no connection between the 19 stocks used in modeling and the proposed Fraser sockeye conservation units (CUs). It’s a complete shemozzle.

And thus, when various harvest models and “integrated fisheries management plans” start “kicking out” percentages of proposed harvest based on only four run-timing “Groups” — I think there is huge cause for concern. For example, this year DFO proposed to limit harvest on the Early Summer run-timing group to 25% of the total run (as opposed to the 60% proposed harvest on Summers and Late Summers) — apparently to protect some of the particular stocks that are becoming conservation concerns. But, how can anyone distinguish — with the 25% harvested — if the fish are from healthy stocks within the Early Summer group (e.g. Scotch, Seymour) from endangered stocks within that group (Bowron, Nadina)?

Again, this is the problem with mixed stock terminal marine fisheries.

If one sits in on meetings with DFO and listen to them spout about the accuracy of their “science” and the excuses they make to anyone concerned about specific Fraser sockeye stocks — it generally circulates around how ‘exact’ their science is and that they know best. The ongoing defence of the FRSSI computer simulation model is a scary, scary thing.

These sorts of tools start to make someone such as yourself out there in the field — rather obsolete. Why have field workers, when we can just computer model the whole thing based on past records…? The FRSSI model takes data from the last 48-50 years (spotty at best) on 19 stocks and pushes that data out 50 years and then designs harvesting strategies from the numbers “kicked out” by the models.

You’re exactly right on the cut-backs to things like juvenile enumeration work. If we start to look outside of the major watersheds (e.g. Skeena, Fraser, Nass) the level of DFO cutbacks to people actually in the field with their feet and hands in the water actually interacting with the salmon and the critters that depend on them — is atrocious.

Salmon management — from the government view — is becoming, largely, an exercise of academics, scientists and computer modelers — not folks with waders and gumboots on.

With my final questions being — with so much uncertainty in fisheries management (esp. Fraser sockeye and other salmon) should we be “managing” the fish populations — according to the dominant big runs, or according to only the 19 stocks of over 200 that we have information on…?

Or… should we maybe act much more precautionary and manage Fraser sockeye and other salmon to the small, endangered, extinct stocks that are most likely only growing in number?

This is the great conundrum… if endangered species legislation was enacted on some upper Fraser sockeye stocks; then management would have to manage fishing pressure according to what the endangered runs could support — NOT what the 17 million+ Adams/Weaver run can apparently support. Or what Fraser steelhead populations, or interior Fraser coho, or early-timed Chinook can handle.

What the heck are management institutions and commercial fishing proponents going to do when the big runs are in just as much trouble as the small, going extinct runs are…?
oh wait, we’ve seen that over the last three years… no fishing.

“No fishing” starts to make a department of “Fisheries” somewhat obsolete… Added to the mix, prices of less than $1 per pound for sockeye starts to make commercial fishing somewhat obsolete; and a commercial salmon fishing fleet with a landed value of only $20 million last year starts to make justification for a 10,000 full-time equivalent employees federal Ministry start looking akin to a stuffed pig at Christmas… (with the apple in the mouth and all…)

(and we know what happens to that pig)

DFO forecasting… is it as bad as Tiger Woods’ golf these days?


Another August day… another Pacific Salmon Commission and Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Fraser sockeye update.

The press release issued by DFO yesterday states:

Subject: FN0672-Salmon: Fraser River Sockeye Update – August 17 – Areas 11 to 29

The Fraser River Panel met today to review stock assessment data on the Fraser River sockeye runs, plan fisheries, and discuss sockeye migration conditions in the Fraser River watershed.

Test fishing data collected over the past several days indicates continued strong migration of Fraser sockeye through the marine approach routes. DNA analyses indicate that the stock composition of Fraser sockeye in the Areas 12 [near Campbell River – Johnstone Strait on Vancouver Island] and 20 [near Victoria in Juan de Fuca] marine approach routes to the Fraser River are ranging about 12-17% Early Summer-run, 18-32% Summer-run, and 56-64% Late-run sockeye.

The diversion rate of Fraser sockeye through Johnstone Strait is currently estimated to be approximately 74%. The migration of sockeye past Mission and Hells Gate has also been strong over the past several days. The estimated total catch of Fraser sockeye to-date is 1,669,000 fish. Total escapement past Mission is 3,167,000 for a total accounted to date of 4,836,000 fish.

The marine migration of Early Summer-run sockeye is dropping off in the latest samples; the current run size estimate of 2,400,000 Early Summer-run sockeye was increased to 2,600,000 fish [pre-season estimate was 783,000]. The 50% marine migration timing of Early Summer-run sockeye through Area 20 is estimated to be August 4. The estimated escapement of Early Summer-run sockeye past Mission through August 16 is 1,400,000 fish.

The marine migration of Summer-run sockeye has increased in recent days. At the meeting today, the Panel approved a run size increase from 3,000,000 Summer-run sockeye to 3,300,000 [pre-season forecast was 2.6 million]. The 50% marine migration timing of Summer-run sockeye through Area 20 is August 10. The estimated escapement of Summer-run sockeye past Mission through August 16 is 1,139,000 fish.

Late-run sockeye are increasing in proportion of the sockeye migrating through the marine approach areas and there are early indications that a portion of them are delaying in the lower Strait of Georgia prior to entering the Fraser River. The gulf troll test fishery started Monday to conduct assessments of the abundance of Late-run sockeye that are delaying their migration. A total abundance assessment for Late-run sockeye should be available later this coming week.

At the meeting today run size estimate of 700,000 Harrison sockeye was unchanged with 50% marine timing through Area 20 of August 4. The estimated escapement of Late-run sockeye past Mission through August 16 is 931,000 fish.

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Last year, somewhere around 10-11 million in the pre-season forecast… only about 1.3 million show up. A blown forecast by about a factor of 10 — ten times.

This year, we’re approaching a parallel experience…just the opposite way: somewhere around 11 million forecast, and now an in-season estimate approaching 15 million total run size (remember, not what will reach the spawning grounds, but what is estimated as total run size approaching the Fraser River before catches and death).

Sure, some folks might suggest this a “good thing” as at least it’s blowing the forecast the right way. Going low… and getting higher returns.

But is this really a good thing? Or, simply an even stronger sign that “we just don’t know”?

Or did folks actually utilize the precautionary approach in the forecasting tools? hmmm…

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The Early Stuart pre-season forecast was blown by almost 2.5 times: 41,000 forecast; now over 105,000 in-season estimate of total run size.

Similar story on the Early Summers: 783,000 pre-season forecast now with an in-season estimate now 2.6 million. That’s what… blown by almost 3.5 times.

The Summers: pre-season total run size predictions of 2.6 million now approaching in-season estimates of 3.3 million, blown by 700,000 fish, approximately 0.3 times.

What’s next?

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If this was the accuracy of weather forecasts… would you ever try and schedule a family picnic by the forecast?

What if this sort of lack of accuracy or certainty was displayed by your financial planner?

(Oh wait, for First Nations and commercial fisherfolks… salmon forecasting has relations to financial planning and more…)

What if this sort of rampant inaccuracy was displayed by Tiger Woods on the golf course… oh wait, it sort of was last week (if you follow that sort of thing).

What happens when Tiger starts sucking on the golf course…?

Well… sponsors start threatening to pull $$. (we’ll leave that little infidelity issue alone…)

What happens when DFO starts sucking on their forecasting…? Well… not much… except maybe a paper-producing and shuffling public inquiry… (the fifth in 20 years or so).

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My point here is that this whole exercise of pre-season and in-season forecasting is a wildly inaccurate exercise. It’s guess-timates at best. It’s like the old kids game of guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar posing as “exact science”.

For example, in reading the press release I pasted above: “The estimated total catch of Fraser sockeye to-date is 1,669,000 fish. Total escapement past Mission is 3,167,000 for a total accounted to date of 4,836,000 fish.”

Those numbers pose as: exact.

The estimated catch is 1.669 million. The ‘estimate‘ (they forgot this important word in the press release) past Mission (remember these are numbers “kicked out” by looking at various sonar and other contraptions — exact science to some; voodoo science to others) is 3.167 million. Add those two together and we get exactly 4.836 million fish total run size estimate for all Fraser sockeye right now.

But what about the seals, and orcas, and shit flowing out of the over 2 million strong urban Centre of Vancouver, and natural mortality, and the big physiological changes that adult sockeye undergo while moving from ocean salt water to fresh Fraser River water, and unaccounted catch (e.g. sport fishers and others) and so on…?

Nope, this is precise stuff salmonguy.

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And as we get to the end of the season, what do we have to confirm that all of these test fishing models, and scale sampling, and commercial fish catch estimates, and sport catch and First Nation catch estimates, and “Management Adjustments” and natural mortality and sonar counts and DIDSON counts and so on, and so on —- are in fact accurate?

Well… we have spawner counts: like more sonar and DIDSON devices, and folks walking streams counting fish, and fish wheels, and mark-recapture studies and helicopter flights (wildly accurate… right?), and computer models and simulations, and a whole lot of paper shuffling that makes lots of noise like a herd of wildebeest…

And what are we left with… well…. ESTIMATES.

Good ol’ fashion estimates. Just like grandma makin bread… “whaddaya need measuring cups for… I know it by sight and feel…”

_ _ _ _

It’s not that I have a solution to this “estimating” game it’s just that it gets a bit frustrating and disappointing when fisheries decisions are  made on some lame statement such as: “we know what’s going on out there”.

We don’t; it’s an experiment.

As such, a much more precautionary approach is required. Because really… what’s wrong with getting lots of fish onto the spawning grounds?

(0ver-escapement… phooey… not on the returns these days).

Running around suggesting that salmon science is exact — is akin to having a doctor trained on the old game “Operation” doing heart surgery…

hey, now there’s an idea… every time a Fisheries bureaucrat starts carrying on about how exact the science is, they get a loud buzz and shock — similar to the old board game…

Enbridge: Michigan oil spill… response “too little, too slow” suggest U.S. officials

Remember this?





























Well… don’t forget this:

July 27 2010 Oil leaks into the Kalamazoo River Tuesday afternoon in Michigan

there’s some irony here maybe… a Canada Goose done in by a Canadian pipeline company…





Michigan River (Gazette / Jonathon Gruenke)


Or this:











A worker from Enbridge Energy skims oil off the surface of the Kalamazoo River after a pipeline ruptured in Marshall, Michigan, on Tuesday, July 27, 2010. (Andre J. Jackson/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

_ _ _ _

This out of Michigan today:

Michigan oil spill Enbridge’s ‘highest priority’

Globe and Mail

Tag line to Globe and mail article suggests:

U.S. politicians say Canadian oil company’s response too little and too slow


But not to worry it’s only about 3,000,000 litres…

_ _ _ _

But remember this from the nice glossy pamphlet?

I’m feeling pretty confident about this:

Enbridge pamphlet

I wonder if that’s Mr. Pelpola (fellow in picture below “Lead Environmental Consultant”) in the hazmat suit above covered in oil…?

Enbridge pamphlet

Sure Enbridge… a pipeline through Northern BC sounds like a great idea… It’s not a matter of “if” — just a matter of “when”.

Recipe for: Fisheries and Oceans Non-confidence cake

I think there might be a cake in the works (I’ve included a mold to bake it in). Some evidence of this can be seen in Alexandra Morton’s current walk to Victoria to protest the impact of salmon farming on BC’s wild salmon, recent court cases that have found Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is failing in their responsibilities, and a variety of other factors.

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on the current denial stage surrounding B.C. wild salmon, and the post from Saturday: Is it time for a vote of non-confidence in Fisheries and Oceans Canada which was a follow-up post to early March: Is Fisheries and Oceans Canada breaking laws? — I am curious whether a non-confidence vote is brewing?

This idea is not a new idea. In early 2001 on Haida Gwaii (formerly referred to as the Queen Charlotte Is.) close to 20% of the adult population of the islands marched on to the British Columbia Ministry of Forests office and filed a vote of non-confidence. Over 600 ballots were cast that day and marched to the doors of the Ministry. (click the picture to read story).

[If you can’t read the placard it states: “MOF You’ve taken everything but the Kitchen Sink“]

The red stumps are part of the “Red Stump Brigade” which can still be found stuck into the ground near various Haida Gwaii driveways.

As John Vaillant suggests in his good read of a book: “The Golden Spruce: A True story of Myth, Madness, and Greed“:

“Out in Haida Gwaii, the rain keeps most fires at bay and coastal timber is far less susceptible to bug infestations that are devastating the interior. It is humans and things they carry with them that remain the greatest threat to the islands. A terrible irony is that, philosophically, Hadwin was in sync with much of the local population: in December 2000 an interracial group of islanders staged a protest — essentially, a no-confidence vote — against the Ministry of Forest’s handling of logging in the islands. There hadn’t been a demonstration of that kind in a decade, and this one was the biggest ever: 20 percent of the islands’ adult population participated. Since then there have been some striking changes not just in the way logging is practiced but in the status of the islands themselves.”

The irony that Vaillant is referring to is that “Hadwin” — Grant Hadwin — is the individual who cut down the revered Golden Spruce (an incredibly rare tree, the only one of its kind on Haida Gwaii)  in early 1997. He was trying to make a statement against industrial logging. Hadwin disappeared off the coast of BC not long after the incident.

It was a twisted approach to protest…however… is it all that different than suggesting that farming salmon in open-net pens on wild salmon migration routes is a good way to protect wild salmon?

Here ares some ingredients that might be proposed for a:

DFO Non-confidence Cake:

1. One half cup of not knowing one’s percentages very well.

The 2009 DFO Integrated Salmon Management Plan – last season – listed Fraser River early-timed Chinook as a “stock of concern” with the following conservation objective:  “to implement management actions that will reduce the exploitation rate approximately 50% relative to the 2006 [33.9%] to 2007 [54.4%] period.”  This means the objective was to reduce exploitation to approximately 22% (half of  average [44.2%] of 06 and 07).

  • Estimates just out from DFO suggest exploitation rate last year (2009) on early-timed Chinook were 48.7%. Not only did they not reduce by half — exploitation was actually almost 5% higher than the average.

(Disclaimer: this might actually be one cup, as opposed to 50% of one cup, or it might be two cups – hard to know when percentages are so confusing and which Ministry is measuring)

2. One overflowing cup of very effective lobby efforts in Ottawa

DFO’s own numbers suggest that exploitation rates on early-timed Chinook need to be 8-11% during times of low productivity like we are experiencing right now, and have seen for at least the last four years. Last year, the ocean sport fishery in Juan de Fuca alone — is estimated to have caught almost 12% of the Chinook destined for the Nicola river. This means this particular sport fishery alone is catching what DFO deems sustainable for the entire population.

  • Local estimates suggest that on peak fishing days there are well over 500 (maybe closer to 800) sport fishing boats in Juan de Fuca (from Victoria, B.C. up the Vancouver Island coast to Port Renfrew).
  • The Chinook sport fishery is open coast-wide in BC right now, despite terrible forecasts for this coming year and terrible returns of early-timed Chinook over the last four years.

3. Two cups of not being able to follow your own “recipe”

DFO’s Wild Salmon Policy explicitly defines what is meant by Conservation — the primary goal of salmon management:

Conservation is the protection, maintenance, and rehabilitation of genetic diversity, species, and ecosystems to sustain biodiversity and the continuance of evolutionary and natural production processes.

This definition identifies the primacy of conservation over use, and separates issues associated with constraints on use from allocation and priority amongst users.

Yet, when it comes to Fraser early-timed Chinook there are no conservation goals — only percentages attached to ‘constraints on use‘ as demonstrated in the statement:  “to implement management actions that will reduce the exploitation rate approximately 50% relative to 2006 to 2007.”  This is not a conservation goal, this is a constraint on use – which, coincidentally, was failed upon miserably; placing Nicola River Chinook (i.e. early-timed Chinook) on extinction watch.

4. A good dose of completely flawed computer simulation model based on less than 10% of a population.

See posts regarding Fraser River Spawning Sockeye Initiative (FRSSI). FRSSI simulates Fraser River sockeye populations based on information from only 19 stocks — despite there being over 200 separate Fraser sockeye stocks.

This model is like trying to make a cake and only using 10% of the ingredients and then wondering why the heck the cake didn’t turn out as expected — or collapsed like a rusty lawn chair…

5. Three litres of very flawed economics, budget planning, and misuse of funds.

See post: $2 for one wild salmon… do you see a problem?

Further evidence? I was at a meeting late last week of approximately 50-60 people discussing DFO’s pre-season planning. When it came time to give DFO feedback they showed up at the meeting with 13 staff. That’s right, 13 staff when 2-3 would have sufficed. Many of these staff had taken at least two flights to get to the meeting, rented cars, and were there for two days staying in some hotel. What’s the estimated cost of that type of frivolous spending?

Directions for Mixing and Baking:

Bake these ingredients in a bureaucratic malaise of about 10,000 employees, an east coast Minister with a distinguished career in Revenue Canada, and decades of Royal Commissions, public inquiries, and Auditor General reports.

Suggested icing?

Lemon-Inaction Glaze (for enhanced tartness)

(Future recipes to come…)

cognitive compromise… huh?

In the 1950s, social psychologist Solomon Asch conducted some experiments into the ‘relativizing effect of conversation’.

A small group of individuals was put in a room. All except one of them — the ‘victim’  — in each experimental group were told beforehand about the nature of the experiment. When the group gathered, the ‘victim’ was first shown an object — say a stick — and asked to estimate its length. Let’s say this stick is 24 inches  (two feet), and the ‘victim’ estimates close to the correct length.

Each of the other individuals (in the know) in the group were then asked the same question and as previously instructed, would come up with a ridiculous estimate — like 48 inches or four feet.

The experimenter then returns to the ‘victim’ and says something like: “It seems that you have a very different opinion from everyone else here. Why don’t you have another look at the stick and see if you might want to change your mind about your first estimate.”

Almost every ‘victim’ did revise, typically saying something like: “Well, maybe I did underestimate, maybe it isn’t 24 inches. Maybe it’s closer to 35-40 inches?” In other words, the ‘victim’ was pulled towards the ‘group norm’ or majority.

Curiously, if there were two ‘victims’ instead of one: the two would then huddle together and defend their (of course, perfectly reasonable) original estimate. If ‘victims’ and ‘non-victims’ were evenly divided, a vigorous bargaining process  typically ensued, leading to a cognitive compromise — that is a new “group norm.”

In Asch’s experiment, the dispute was about a matter that could easily be resolved by using a tape measure — although the experimenter denied this — and yet the cognitive power of conversation still led to compromise. In other words, conversation had a relativizing effect even on the perception of a physical object, the length of which could, in principle, be decided by using a measuring device.

When it comes to an individual’s views about certain realities that can’t be subjected to scrutiny by way of sense perception — such as religious or political views — there are no commonly agreed upon measuring devices. It follows that the power of conversation will be that much greater in those cases. What’s plausible, and what’s not plausible, will be largely determined by the nature of the conversation about it (i.e. shifting the “group norm”).

Sociology of knowledge suggests this phenomenon is a “plausibility structure.” This is the social context within which any particular definition of reality is suggested to be ‘plausible’ or ‘realistic’.

If you’re not familiar with the current fraud charges against U.S. banking and financial institution Goldman Sachs — which flows from flawed financial derivatives such as the sub-prime mortgage fiasco — check into it and you can see the power of ‘group norms’ and flawed ‘plausibility structures’ at work. Even former U.S. President Bill Clinton was quoted in media today apologizing for deregulating financial markets that largely led to the disaster of the last few years. (Curiously, one of Clinton’s main financial advisers at the time was a former Goldman Sachs executive.)

Thus… one might suggest that when Fisheries and Oceans convened (in 2003 and 2004) a group of “fisheries experts” to begin designing a computer simulation model to attempt to better look after sockeye salmon in the Fraser River — that ‘group norms’; ‘plausibility structure’ determined by conversation, and plain common sense might all be impacted.

The Fraser River Spawning Sockeye Initiative (FRSSI) has evolved from frequent gatherings of fisheries scientists (within and outside of Fisheries and Oceans) over the last eight years (see earlier posts Free Money – Part I and Free Money – Part II). It’s a computer simulation model that’s supposed to give the Canadian public confidence that Fisheries and Oceans is best managing wild sockeye according to:

  1. Conservation  (i.e. not causing sockeye runs and stocks to go extinct and ensuring salmon support ecosystems)
  2. First Nation food, social, and ceremonial purposes (enshrined in Canadian Constitution and Supreme Court decisions)
  3. Well-managed commercial and sport fisheries

Unfortunately, maybe too many fisheries focussed scientists (and DFO bureaucrats) are now trying to suggest that maybe regular folks should simply shift to their 48-inch stick view — even though it’s quite clear the 48-inch estimates are significantly flawed.

Unfortunately, we can’t even have a discussion about it, because apparently the calculations that went into reaching the 48-inch stick estimate are so complex that us mere 24-inch stick seers will never understand. And thus, there is no ‘nature of conversation that might shift plausibility.’

“Just accept that we are right… we do not need any cognitive compromise.”

Sadly, the only measuring device we have to determine whether an 8-year, significantly flawed, computer simulation model for determining fishing options (even though there has been no Fraser sockeye fishery for 3 years) is the actual long-term health of the Fraser sockeye runs themselves over the coming sockeye generations.

Simple as that.

Therefore, for something as crucial as avoiding Fraser sockeye stock extinctions, do we want to be measuring by guesstimate built upon guesstimate, built upon silicon microprocessors to determine when “we’re going fishing”?

Or, do we want to base our measurements upon the health of rebuilding Fraser sockeye runs to somewhere between the 165 million sockeye of the peak cycle years of the 1800s — and the 15 million or so average of the late 1900s?

(Last year saw about 1 million return)

Rather than determining ‘fishing options’ should we maybe focus more on rebuilding and precaution?

Rather than 8 years and countless millions of dollars on staff/consultant time and computer hardware; maybe put countless million of dollars into habitat restoration and conservation?

Rather than spending more money trying to convince everyone a computer simulation model is the answer and to accept this as the group norm — why not demonstrate some actual measures of what a rebuilt Fraser sockeye run might look like, should look like, once looked like, could look like…?