Monthly Archives: July 2010

modeled modeling or mottled modeling?

the modeling "Rack"

The other day I listened into an update conference call on various sockeye salmon forecasts (“in-season” compared to “pre-season), environmental forecasts, salmon modeling, environmental modeling, guesstimates, estimates, predictions, test fishing, genetic classification, and so on and so on.

There is definitely far more “scientific” guesstimates and conference calls going on then commercial fishing these days. It’s quite an industry… compare this computer model estimate with that computer model estimate compared to this pre-season modeling effort compared to that pre-season estimate compared to this in-season model and that simulation… well… you can guess at the rest of that story.

Fair enough to some of it… there should be a rough idea of what’s out there before industrial scale fisheries set out to catch as much as possible in as short a period of time. The old “if I don’t catch it… someone else will…”

I did hear a very, very telling comment from a rather senior scientist on the conference call:

“…THERE IS A FAIR AMOUNT OF UNCERTAINTY…”

Yeah… you bet there is… and thank-you for that honest statement.

However, it’s such a curious phrase… what is a “fair” amount of uncertainty? “Fair” compared to what…? What if we had “unfair amount of uncertainty”? (but then that’s semantics, isn’t it?)

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One of the curious discussions on the call was how this year’s very cautious pre-season forecasts were being beaten in many cases — sockeye runs are returning better than expected and better than “computer models” were pumping out. Apparently this year, various management institutions and fisheries scientists applied more cautious estimates (or at least parameters in computer models) so that there wasn’t a repeat of last year’s fiasco and blown forecasts.

The new fall colors for salmon forecasting this year have been “blushing red”  … as in:

“well… gee… you know, pre-season salmon forecasting is a very imprecise activity”.

See post from a few months ago: weather forecasts; salmon forecasts to put it into perspective.

With this sort of confession, I then tend to ask: “well… why is your in-season forecasting all that much better?”

Or, “if your pre-season is so inaccurate… what’s the point of running disastrous computer modeling programs like the Fraser River Spawning Sockeye Initiative (FRSSI)? Am I to believe it will be better? And if it’s better… how much better than pre-season?”

model blueprint...

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One of the bizarre exchanges on the phone call was a discussion around this year’s new “model” forecasts, as compared to the modeling used in last year’s disaster forecast (e.g. 10 million Fraser sockeye forecast and only 1.3 million returned). If last year’s methods of modeling had been used this year,  they would have apparently churned out numbers close to what we are seeing returning this year.

But… instead… this year we are depending on “new” models that would do a better job than last year.

OK, this is just Hollywood script-like. Last year’s modeling techniques sucked (e.g. blown forecasts on the high side); however this year’s modeling techniques suck too (blown forecasts on the low side) – yet last year’s techniques used this year would have produced forecasts that are actually closer to reality.

Bizarre… even more bizarre was that there seemed to be a positive tone in the discussion surrounding this bizarre anomaly.

e.g: “gee.. good to know…”

I’m not so sure I’d be shopping that reality around… isn’t there a comparison to be drawn with having financial forecasting tools that didn’t catch the crash of the markets (i.e. were wrong) in 08, and then suggesting… you know, if we used the tools that blew last year, this year, they would be right this year…

(Yeah great… all my money’s gone now, but if I still had some – things would have been better this year… bizarre).

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Not too long ago a respected fisheries biologist asked me if I knew the old Greek story of Procrustes’ Bed.

No, I said. And he proceeded to tell me.

His reason for telling me the Procrustes story, was that I was asking questions about the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ latest computer modeling program — FRSSI, the Fraser River Spawning Sockeye Initiative

Procrustes’ Bed, he told me, Procrustes’ Bed…:

Procrustes was a host who adjusted his guests to their bed.

Procrustes, whose name means “he who stretches”, was arguably the most interesting of Theseus’s challenges on the way to becoming a hero.He kept a house by the side of the road where he offered hospitality to passing strangers, who were invited in for a pleasant meal and a night’s rest in his very special bed. Procrustes described it as having the unique property that its length exactly matched whomsoever lay down upon it.

What Procrustes didn’t volunteer was the method by which this “one-size-fits-all” was achieved, namely as soon as the guest lay down Procrustes went to work upon him, stretching him on the rack if he was too short for the bed and chopping off his legs if he was too long. Theseus turned the tables on Procrustes, fatally adjusting him to fit his own bed.

I get the feeling that when it comes to modeling salmon populations… Procrustes  is very fitting… “he who stretches…”

Procrustes salmon modeling

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

Remember this?

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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…

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Michigan River (Gazette / Jonathon Gruenke)

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Or this:

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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)

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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

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

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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”.

Sustainable?

Thank-you for the forward. Here’s a 2008 paper from the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science titled:

It’s time to sharpen our definition of sustainable fisheries management” by Peter Shelton and Alan Sinclair — both Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientists. Available at Peter Shelton’s website.

…The term ‘‘sustainable’’, while ever present in policy statements, suffers greatly from ambiguous use…

…Policy documents are peppered with the term sustainable; however, there is very little detail on what the term actually means and how sustainability should be achieved in practice…

…Although Canadian policy strongly supports sustainable fisheries management in principle, usage of the term has been vague and implementation of sustainable fisheries management strategies has lagged…

Amen, hopefully some of this realism permeates the Department. I won’t hold my breath, as fisheries decisions are far too often based on political decision-making — not scientific.

That’s why the Minister has full discretionary decision-making…

Ask the North Atlantic cod how that worked out for them…

One of my concerns from reading this article and others on Shelton’s page is the insistence on utilizing “Maximum Sustainable Yield” in fisheries management. This term and practice has been around for about 50 years or so… which is quite parallel with the great fisheries overexploitation of the planet’s oceans.

Are there any examples out there of any fisheries population surviving decades of “Maximum Sustainable Yield”?

What if we were more precautionary and used “Minimum Sustainable Yield”… or “Medium Sustainable Yield… or “properly-defined-sustainable” Yield… or something to that effect?

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Combine these thoughts with the conclusion of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization paper published in 2007:

Models for an ecosystem approach to fisheries

Attention worldwide is increasingly being concentrated on establishing frameworks for fisheries management that are ecosystem-oriented, notwithstanding that the operational aspects of this goal are fraught with difficulty.

This field is still very new and major gaps still exist between single-species and multispecies or ecosystem approaches to practical fishery management.

Pacific salmon are managed in classic single-species approaches — yet Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy is full of nice words and phrases like: “ecosystem-based management”.

I’m not a fisheries “scientist”… however, I wonder (out loud) whether “Maximum Sustainable Yield” and “ecosystem-based management” can live together in the same house?

…let alone the same neighborhood…

road trip doodling — salmon models — salmon think tanks

This week I am traveling; drove from Prince George to Victoria for a family function. Had some time in the sun on the ferry crossing.

Last week I heard a senior DFO manager explain the number of variables affecting salmon forecasting — things like Humboldt squid, changing ocean conditions, freshwater productivity, and so on and so on.

I asked: “do you think that setting maximum sustained yield (i.e. fishing mortality) at 60% of a run is all that responsible then?”

There was some significant back tracking…

salmon guy doodling

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I have always found the term “escapement” to refer to salmon that enter rivers that may — or may not — spawn, a very bizarre term… a very human-centric term… a very western science term…

breaking the barriers to migration

Maybe the addition of one of those fish that hasn’t broken out of jail:

“whoa folks… slow down the computer model says only a few of us should make it through…”

In December 2009, Simon Fraser University and others convened a Salmon Think Tank. Little did they know, these have been around for awhile…:

salmon think tank

The salmon reconvened in the 90s:

1990s

last year... dreaming of more Fraser sockeye

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thinking outside the box?

that was then… this is then…

At a recent meeting discussing issues around salmon a First Nations leader commented to me:

“you know… in the mid 1990s, I attended lots of meetings like this… not much happened; so I stopped going…

“…it’s like I fell asleep for about 15 years and woke up at today’s meeting… not much has changed and we’re still discussing many of the same things… there’s just less salmon…”

Sadly, this statement is quite true in many ways… here we are putting lots of stock into ‘another’ judicial inquiry into salmon. Yet, it’s an inquiry that has been mandated specifically to: “not find fault”.

Great… more recommendations for changes.

I don’t like being a cynic; however, there are no shortage of examples of “recommendations” gathering dust on a shelf, while we humans continue to make the same errors, over and over and over…

Here’s a brilliant example in relation to BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the oil spill that occurred in late May on the Alaskan North Slope Trans-Alaska pipeline  owned 47% by BP…(thanks for the forward)… this is pretty fricking unbelievable.

Flashback to 1979 when an oil well blew out in the Gulf of Mexico (in 200 ft of water) and leaked tens of thousands of barrels oil every day for months on end. Owner of the platform… a company now called Transocean… same company that owned the platform that blew out this year.

Same pathetic ideas to stop the disaster… exact same recommendation: Relief Wells.

Just watch this MSNBC news commentary… it’s a headshaker…

http://www.wimp.com/oilspills/

will we ever learn?

(more on this stream tomorrow)

wild salmon dissonance and patchwork quilts for fisheries managers

Dissonance, the Free Online Dictionary suggests means:

Wild Salmon Policy?

1. A harsh, disagreeable combination of sounds; discord.

2. Lack of agreement, consistency, or harmony; conflict.

Under the first definition I was privy to some serious dissonance this past week while sitting in salmon-related  meetings listening to a senior Department of Fisheries and Oceans manager run circles around questions. At one point, he was even asked for a “yes” or “no” answer; yet a long-winded response would start winding up…

“No, no… I said YES or NO, please” said the questioner again.

“Well… yeah… but… you need to understand…” said the bureaucrat.

One of the most offensive ways to answer a question or begin any explanation is: “you have to understand…”

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Part of the meeting involved discussions around Fraser sockeye and predicted returns. Of course, this type of discussion involves the computer simulation model Fraser River Spawning Sockeye Initiative (FRSSI) which apparently pumps out fishing plans, or “TAM rules” (total allowable mortality). This model is great for theoretical understandings of biological organisms — like Fraser sockeye — but an absolute joke for “managing” biological organisms in the wild — like Fraser sockeye.

Worse yet (and you can read more on previous posts on this site) the Fraser River is suggested to have approximately 200 distinct sockeye populations or stocks; and approximately 150 different spawning areas, and countless nursery lakes. The FRSSI is based on information on 19 stocks or populations, much of that information spotty at best, and only about 50 years of data which means approximately 12-15 life cycles of sockeye. Those 19 stocks are further simplified into four groups based on the timing of their upstream migration and spawning.

The model has various productivity scenarios fed in (again spotty estimates); with the added benefit that DFO only studies two sockeye rearing lakes (yeah that’s 2).

Worse yet, the FRSSI model does not incorporate any data prior to about 1948 when DFO started keeping records.

Worse yet, the model has no ecological values factored in — things like seals, bears, eagles, and so on. It simply sets fishing rates and guesstimates how many sockeye need to reach spawning grounds.

It’s supposed to be “Pilot Study” and is listed as such in DFO promotional material… yet, it’s being used to “manage” sockeye on the Fraser, even though there hasn’t been a commercial fishery in three years (that will probably change this year…).

However, I suppose one positive out of this is that the maximum fishing rates (maximum sustained yield – MSY) is now 60% of total run size, not 80% as it has been in the past….

Salmon think tank... salmon fisheries in the tank...

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The second definition of dissonance occurred in the same meetings last week when DFO reps started presenting information on Fraser River Chinook: pre-season forecasts, proposed exploitation (a.k.a. fishing) rates, and various forecasted population scenarios with proposed fishing rates:

The 5 represents the age of these fish and the small subscript 2 represents how many winters they spent in fresh water as babies (i.e. fry) and the Spring and Summer referring to timing of their migration.

Estimates for this year suggest a run of these Chinook somewhere between 58,000 and 62,000; however, not a lot is known about these fish and they represent a huge geographic area in the various Fraser tributaries that they spawn in – from the far upper Fraser to tributaries downstream through Williams Lake (Chilcotin) and Thompson River and tributaries.

I asked what seemed like the obvious question to me: “what is the rate for maximum sustained yield (MSY)?… is it 80% of the run — like in the past; 60% like it is with sockeye now; 50% like many Alaskan salmon runs are managed to?”

“Well, you have to understand…” began the DFO rep…

Eghad, here we go again.

“…these Chinook are managed differently… it’s based on habitat capacity and output…so it’s not a set rate”

“Gee… that sounds accurate”, was the response that slipped out of my mouth.

I was given a name of a DFO scientist working in Nanaimo that is apparently the expert on this: “Parken”.

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I looked up his work (apologies, I’m assuming it’s a he… i think I heard the pronoun “he”). I came across a report on the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat: Habitat-based methods to estimate escapement goals for data limited Chinook salmon stocks in British Columbia, 2004

Seems like some pretty interesting work… although I was struck immediately by a key phrase in the title: “data limited“.

There’s another way to phrase that, that might be more accurate: “limited data“.

In other words… we don’t really know because we have limited data.

And this is laid out quite clearly in the report, even in the abstract:

Our habitat-based model can generate biologically-based escapement goals, rooted in fish-production relationships, for data limited stocks over a broad range of environments. This simple approach requires easily acquirable data and makes few assumptions. However, spawner escapements of known accuracy and reliability are required, which may impede implementation for some systems. The approach is well suited for most data limited stocks in BC and can be tested and refined as new stock-recruitment data become available. Since the habitat-based method was more accurate than the interim method for BC Key Streams, we recommend applying it for data limited stocks in BC to establish escapement goals until more stock-specific data are available. [my emphasis]

Again… as mentioned previously in other posts. My comments are not meant to be a jerk; just pointing out some gaping voids and massive assumptions. Sometimes these assumptions are pointed out in papers and reports; yet, many/most fisheries science folks still talk in circles around them. It’s as if the massive assumptions and “data limited” experiments are a personal affront against them and their “science”.

Our goal was to develop a habitat-based approach to generate escapement goals for data limited Chinook stocks in British Columbia (BC). We focused on developing a model with general applicability that could be applied inexpensively and quickly, while making sufficiently accurate predictions to suit fisheries management purposes.

That’s the problem in most cases… “fisheries management” is more speculative then investing in penny stocks sold out of some guys basement. And thus the “purpose” of fisheries management is to carve out as many fish as possible for human consumption, economic opportunities, and social considerations — then think about the environmental/ecological implications…thus “sufficiently accurate” for fisheries management?! Yikes…

We focused on developing simple models that lacked biological detail, yet described general biological patterns across a range of environmental conditions and Chinook salmon biology. Inasmuch as high precision and accuracy are desirable properties of models, we aimed to develop a method with reasonable accuracy and precision for most domestic and international fisheries management purposes.

But isn’t “biological detail” the whole purpose of looking after fish populations and all the critters that depend on them?

Yes, precision and accuracy are desirable properties… especially if you work for the same federal department responsible for decimating North Atlantic Cod.

There’s a big important word missing after the “properties or models” and the “,” (comma); it’s “BUT”…

As in “… , but we aimed to develop a model with reasonable accuracy”

“Reasonable” accuracy…?! what the ^*!#?

reasonable to whom…?

Is this like the legal test: “a reasonable person…” or is this like “reasonable” to fisheries management folks… or “reasonable” to a Fisheries minister with a long distinguished career with Revenue Canada.

Sorry folks, but the history of “reasonable accuracy and precision for domestic and international fisheries management purposes” is brutal. There’s a reason why the oceans have lost 90% of large predator fish and 75% of the world’s fish populations subject to fisheries pressure are in trouble.

Time for a new paradigm.

Is this a wet blanket?

And maybe time for DFO to stop managing salmon via a patchwork quilt of methods…

Or at least fully admit limitations — especially “data limited” limitations — and get a whole lot more precautionary. Oh wait, isn’t the precautionary approach part of the Wild Salmon Policy…?

is this a rebound relationship? — Sockeye and the media

Unfortunately the media is not all that helpful sometimes when it comes to salmon runs. The other day I was listening to CBC Radio and commentators were mentioning how great the Fraser sockeye run is going to be this year. And a few days ago the Globe and Mail reported how sockeye were “rebounding”.

First forecasts are for sockeye rebound

It’s early yet, but the first forecast of the season indicates that sockeye salmon will return this summer in healthy numbers to British Columbia’s Fraser River.

About 11.4 million sockeye are expected to swim up the river this summer, analysts at the Pacific Salmon Commission say. Around two-thirds of those – more than seven million – will be heading to the fabled Adams River spawning grounds in south central B.C., about 60 kilometres east of Kamloops.

Firstly, there are over 200 unique sockeye populations in the Fraser River.

Note: DFO has ‘decent-enough’ information on only 19 (some rather spotty info on those); and has identified approximately 36 separate Conservation Units (CUs); yet only manages to four separate sub-groups (Early Stuart, Early Summer, Summer, and Late Summer)

Yea… bit confusing, and ridiculous… gets worse the deeper one goes in trying to understand the rhyme and reason.

(when it comes to managing salmon… coho starts to rhyme with sockeye and chinook with pink… at least in the world of fisheries management institutions)

So when only one run (Adams River) will potentially represent almost three-quarters of the total Fraser sockeye run — there’s a problem; or at least serious potential for one.

Plus, we really, really need to look at history… and not the history that DFO likes to sell. Here’s a graph presented by Mike Lapointe, Chief Biologist for the Pacific Salmon Commission at the Simon Fraser University Fraser Sockeye Summit in late March 2010. (proceedings available online – graph on page 5):

selective truth?

(The green box is meant to highlight how “big” the 1993 run was comparatively)

actual written history

Here’s my problem…(and this is not meant as criticism of Mike, he seems like a good guy who brought some humour to a dire subject these days) —

…how could the 1901 total sockeye run be noted as less than 30 million by Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Pacific Salmon Commission when a 1902 Fisheries report to Ottawa outlines how 30 million Fraser sockeye alone were canned that year by canneries in the Vancouver area? (go to British Columbia section)…

And better yet… that 30 million more could have been canned if there had been enough cans and capacity at the canneries.

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(apologies for the small print – link to the report to read – Appendix 4 page 102)

Over 2.1 million cases of sockeye… almost all sockeye destined for Fraser River. (Ironic, hey? There were more cases of sockeye canned in 1902 then there were total Fraser sockeye salmon last year. Note that a case includes 48 cans)

Here’s my technically advanced graph of estimated Fraser sockeye returns over the last 100+ years — based on various sources (I keep posting this, because its damn important that folks remember where we’ve come from):

Lest we forget!

And thus… headlines of “rebounds” really need to be kept in context — and not DFO’s context (maybe they should start seeing other people…rebound relationships are hard work).

“Healthy numbers”? I guess on who’s “health” we’re measuring. DFO’s sockeye health is like a 30-year smoker, red meat-eating, sedentary heavy drinker (their historical salmon estimates) as compared to a 70-yr old still running marathons (the true numbers).

“Rebounds”? I guess the rebound relationship depends on how high the bounce is measured. If 11 million is supposed to suggest a “rebound” to historical numbers…. ummm… that ball might be a bit flat.

….”that old grey mare, she ain’t like she used to be…”

dangerous territory…

This is getting into dangerous territory; yet, I’m sure there’s more to the story; I hope there’s more to this Globe and Mail story:

Sto:lo threaten to cast nets without licences

“Band says there are plenty of sockeye – and they will fish when their elder gives go-ahead.”

…The Sto:lo have been refused federal licences to catch the first wave of sockeye, the so-called early Stuart salmon, that have returned to the river this week on their way to their spawning grounds. Despite the healthy numbers, federal fisheries officials say the run size has to be around twice as large before fishing can be allowed.

Here is one of those rare times when I agree somewhat with federal fisheries officials (just the “run size has to be around twice as large before fishing can be allowed”).

Pre-season estimates (often wildly inaccurate) suggested a total run of 41,000. Those have been updated to suggest a total run size of 110,000. Significantly less than this will actually reach the spawning grounds a thousand kilometres upstream or so.

The historic average on the Early Stuart sockeye run is well over 200,000.

Those sorts of numbers have not been seen in a long time, and people up and down the river and in the approach areas have laid off these early fish for over a decade now. These early Stuarts spawn in the far upper reaches of the Fraser River, past Ft. St. James north of Vanderhoof (the geographic centre of B.C.). They have a long journey through ever increasing water temperatures, city and pulp mill effluent.

First Nation groups in the upper Fraser that once depended on these runs have been able to take very little of a once vital and predictable annual food source.

The issue certainly is not the licenses; it’s the fact that absolutely as many sockeye in these runs have to get onto the spawning grounds, especially at current productivity levels for sockeye in the Fraser and predictions of hot water in the river to come.

However, as mentioned there is probably more to the story… however, it doesn’t do many favors for the Sto:lo as evidence in some of the comment string to the article.

It’s also the continued story of a brutal last 150 years of history – especially for Fraser River sockeye.

actual historic estimates

Marine Stewardship Council to assist England in next World Cup of Soccer?

Maybe the English football/soccer team should talk to the Marine Stewardship Council to have it assist in the next World Cup?

The MSC record is perfect, impeccable…

89 Wins – 0 Losses – no draws.

Monday’s MSC “independent” adjudication (by an adjudicator on salary to the MSC) dismissed objections from three B.C. organizations to the MSC’s “independent” review of the Fraser sockeye fishery (the same fishery that hasn’t actually happened in three years because of “low abundance” — Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ new favorite oxymoron).

eco-sustainable according to the MSC

The Marine Stewardship Council is now approaching “eco-certification” on 10% of the world’s fisheries. There are now 89 fisheries “eco-certified” including one of the biggest fisheries on Earth – Bering Sea Pollock fisheries.

Which, coincidentally, catches more salmon as bycatch (i.e. tossed overboard dead) then some of the salmon-focussed commercial fisheries of western Alaska – which also “coincidentally” crashed this past year on the Yukon River — see post from earlier this year: solving the mystery of ocean conditions and disappearing salmon. Both “ecocertified” by the MSC.

How is it Marine Stewardship Council that you can certify one fishery that leads to the collapse of another one of your “ecocertified” fisheries?

In all 89 fisheries “ecocertifed”… number of certifications denied?  Zero.

Number of certifications denied  after independent adjudication of objections?

Zero.

Number of certifications taken away because fishery deemed no longer sustainable?

Zero.

Even the New Zealand hoki fishery, one of the first MSC ecocertified fisheries — collapsed a few years after certification. Was the little blue label taken off?

Nope.

This “eco-certification” scheme is a joke.

The organization was originally formed through a partnership of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the mega transnational corporation Unilever (once one of the biggest sellers of packaged fish in the world). The MSC now has independence from its corporate-colonial roots and runs around asking national governments for money to fund its operations.

I’m not sure if they know how to spell “greenwash” in the London MSC offices – but it’s with a capital “G”. And fraud is with an “f”.

And thanks to the active participation of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in the MSC process…

Marine Stewardship Council — about as credible as Bernie Madoff?

Well, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) continues on its mission to become one of the biggest farces in the ocean — next to BP’s health and safety manuals and their environmental accountability (which I’m sure is inserted in their Corporate Social Responsibility Code somewhere).

The MSC decided yesterday that British Columbia sockeye fisheries are “sustainable” and should receive their little blue “ecocertification” — most likely so they can be sold in WalMart stores around North America (see post: there is probably no connection…Wal-Mart, MSC, 2011…).

Oh wait… there hasn’t been a sockeye fishery on the Fraser River in three years. Yup… sustainable…

As a Globe and Mail article from yesterday – Fraser River sockeye certified sustainable – states:

Since the group [MSC] was founded in 1997, it has granted its eco label to 89 fisheries around the world. An additional 120 fisheries are in assessment.

If you haven’t seen some of my earlier posts on this greenwashing organization simply click “Marine Stewardship Council” in the tag cloud, or search it on this site. Or specifically maybe read Lesson 1, Lesson 2, and Lesson 3 for the Marine Stewardship Council in how NOT to earn credibility.

Not to mention the most popular post on this site: $2 for one wild salmon… do you see a problem?

In an earlier post, it appeared that MSC had eco-certified 65 world fisheries — according to the Globe article they are now up to 85. That’s impressive when the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) continues to blow the alarm on worldwide fisheries:

The FAO has reviewed 584 fish stocks and species from oceans around the world. Sufficient information has been available for the FAO to assess the health of 76% of these stocks and species. The FAO found of the fish stocks and species it has assessed, more than three quarters are fully exploited, overexploited, depleted or recovering — and, therefore, can no longer sustain expansion of the fishery. Furthermore, expansion of fishing activity is extremely risky in those stocks with an unspecified or unknown status.

Do you think that the MSC “eco-certified” fisheries are part of the 25% of the stocks with enough information to adequately assess that are not fully exploited, overexploited, depleted or recovering?

Well… no.

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Regarding B.C. sockeye, the MSC suggests in their press release:

For this fishery, there is uncertainty in the scientific community as to the reasons for low sockeye returns; however, there is general agreement that commercial fishing pressure is not the cause for these declines since breeding stock levels were high in the years that spawned the fish now returning in low numbers (four years previous).

I don’t even know where to begin on this bogus claim, plus let’s not forget this little $15-$20 million exercise called: the Cohen Commission into Declines of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.

Would the United Nations FAO get away with statements like this?

Yeah… you know those 75% of world fisheries that are fully, overly, and completely maxed out… fishing isn’t the problem. It’s other mysterious things.

Come on folks, pull your heads out of your ass! Pardon the crude expression, but this is an joke.

Have folks not seen this graph?:

Salmon think tank

What f’in population of anything can sustain having at least 80% of its population killed year after year.

Not only that… scientists do know that salmon are a “keystone” species. I think most folks recognize what that is… it’s that key rock in an arch:

from Wikipedia

Pull that rock out and the whole frigging thing comes crashing down in a pile of rubble.

So what do we know now, or have known for several decades… salmon feed ecosystems. Not just other animals, salmon carcasses release key nutrients to trees, bush, shrubs, and so on. Research in coastal BC has correlated years of accelerated tree growth with years of large salmon runs.

Gee… what a concept. Part of the freakin reason that so many of the world’s fisheries are depleted is to make f’in fertilizer for crops.

In coastal forests, the fertilizer returns naturally every year. However, research conducted in Washington State (Bilby and others) and other areas has proven a direct link between carcasses of parents feeding the next generation of baby salmon — either through direct feeding on remnants of carcasses in the spring following spawning, or on insects that fed or were spawned from salmon carcasses (ever see all those maggots in spawned out carcasses?).

And so what happens when industrial salmon fisheries over the last 100 years arrives and rapes 80% of the keystone species (remember 80% is a rough estimate…). Well, then the productivity of a system is eventually going to crumble as the “keystone” decays…

Oh wait… like this, maybe:

salmon think tank

If this graph above represented a financial stock that I owned and Department of Fisheries and Oceans (an active participant in the MSC certification process) was my financial advisor… I would have been asking some hard questions in about 1995.

With inaction, I would have started asking harder question after 2000, when you compare the blue graph to the red graph. Productivity was still on a nose dive, yet DFO allowed upwards of 50%-60% of Fraser sockeye to be harvested.

Actually, it wouldn’t have been hard questions by about 2003 — I simply would have fired them.

And since DFO and the MSC worked “closely together” on this assessment of BC sockeye fisheries — they should probably go about the same route as Bernie Madoff. If you don’t know who Bernie Madoff is he set up a grand Ponzi scheme that de-frauded people of over $65 billion between the 1980s and 2000s.