Monthly Archives: March 2011

you can’t eat extinction

Pretty good string of articles from Mr. Hume these days — salmon are getting some mainstream press. Good to see…

Mark’s article today in the Globe, is based on an article by Elizabeth Pennisi in Science magazine:

Some Salmon Can Take the Heat

The Chilko sockeye is the Michael Phelps of salmon. Once a year, it swims 650 kilometers up British Columbia’s Fraser River, fighting rapids and strong currents, to reach a spot where it can lay and fertilize its eggs. New research reveals that the fish is well-adapted to this journey—it has a bigger, better heart and uses oxygen more efficiently than do other local salmon. And thanks to these attributes, the Chilko sockeye may be more likely than these other fish to survive a warming world.

Not all of the Fraser River’s salmon swim as far as the Chilko sockeye. Some stay relatively close to the coast; others swim a bit farther upstream to spawn. There are so many different migration distances that the fish have split into 100 distinct populations—one of which is the Chilko—with different swimming behaviors and body types.

Hot summers take a toll on these migrations. In 2004, for example, 80% of some salmon populations died of heat stress before reaching their spawning destinations. Water temperatures in the Fraser River have risen 2°C in the past 60 years, and, with global warming, researchers expect even bigger die-offs to come. Erika Eliason, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in Canada, wanted to know whether different populations of Fraser River salmon were better than others at handling the heat.

I think this is called local adaptation and demonstrates the importance of biodiversity… not to mention the scary stat that 80% of some salmon populations die en route in the river. First, they dodge all the fisheries, seals, orcas, and pollution of the lower Fraser (not to mention years of the North Pacific…) — then they die en route, simply because the water gets too warm.

It will give those of you comfort to know that pre-season forecasts for this year are looking dismal; however, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is still floating around various potential scenarios that include harvesting up to 50% of some runs. The hearty Chilko run will most likely be one of those runs with targeted fisheries.

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Mark Hume in the Globe today:

Sockeye salmon at risk of overheating due to climate change: study

Sockeye salmon in the Fraser River are facing such critically warm water in the summer that populations will either have to adapt or die as climate change pushes temperatures even higher, according to new research at the University of British Columbia [by Erika Eliason].

With oceans, lakes and rivers warming worldwide, the study holds a warning that fish stocks are facing increasingly dire environmental challenges…

…What Ms. Eliason found was that sockeye, which migrate up to 1,200 kilometers in the Fraser, are already “near their upper limit” for warm water and any further increases could lead to the disappearance of some populations.

Ms. Eliason said it isn’t known how long it takes a population to change physiologically to adapt to environmental conditions – and it might not be possible for any of the populations to change fast enough to survive in the long run.

“The current challenge is determining whether the rates and extents of physiological adaptation for Fraser River sockeye salmon will allow them to adapt quickly enough to cope with the current warming trend,” concludes the paper.

The Fraser has warmed by about two degrees over the past two decades and the trend is expected to continue. The river is usually over 19 degrees in the summer, and often hits highs of around 21.5 degrees.

“They are all near their upper limit. . . 21.5 degrees C is already higher than the optimal temperature for every single population in the Fraser,” she said. “There is not much room there, for anybody.”

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But have no fear, the bumpf-ologists have this well under control… this is a quote from Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy (WSP); it has an entire section on the Precautionary Approach:

The definition fronted in the Policy suggests:

Precautionary approach. When used in an advisory context in support of decision-making by the Government of Canada, this term conveys the sense that the advice is provided in situations of high scientific uncertainty. It is
intended to promote actions that would result in a low probability of harm that is serious or difficult to reverse.

There’s the problem!

The precautionary approach “will be used in an advisory context in support of decision-making by the Government”…

That means that the precautionary approach and science are simply advising political decision.

What else guides political decisions?

Money.

Money in the form of campaign and party contributions and lobbying and that exact science of “economics”… (you know that field that the Prime Minister of last week has specialized in…).

Which ones do you think carry the most weight?

As as starting point, one could go ask the once busy cod fishermen of the East Coast…

The only problem is that you can’t eat extinction… and extinction certainly doesn’t pay the bills.

DFO stifling research… ‘deja vu all over again’?

Politicians and bureaucrats and bureaucracy stifling scientists…

…say it ain’t so…

DFO-related politicians and DFO bureaucrats and DFO bureaucracy stifling scientists…

…stop the shock…

Is anyone really all that surprised?

Mr. Hume in Globe and Mail again:

DFO’s stifling of research a case of déjà vu

When a federal commission investigating the collapse of Fraser River sockeye stocks heard recently that a Fisheries and Oceans scientist who has done groundbreaking research was being silenced, it gave Jeffrey Hutchings a bad case of déjà vu.

“Your recent articles on DFO’s muzzling of Dr. Kristi Miller remind me of similar attempts by DFO to stifle the imparting of science from government scientists to other scientists and to the Canadian public,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Prof. Hutchings, a widely respected fisheries scientist, holds the Canada Research Chair in Marine Conservation & Biodiversity at Dalhousie University, in Halifax. In 1997, he, Carl Walters from the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia and Richard Haedrich, Department of Biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, set off a media firestorm with a paper that ripped DFO for suppressing controversial science.

Writing in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, they outlined two cases – the collapse of Atlantic cod stocks and the diversion of the Nechako River, in B.C. – in which they maintained research was stifled because it didn’t conform to political agendas.

They argued that, on the East Coast, DFO silenced scientists who warned Atlantic cod stocks had been devastated not by seal predation, but from overfishing. And, in the West, they stated that DFO rejected research that showed an Alcan plan to divert the Nechako River would damage Chinook stocks.

In both cases, they wrote, hard-working scientists had their findings suppressed by DFO managers who didn’t want to see research that clashed with political goals.

“We contend that political and bureaucratic interference in government fisheries science compromises the DFO’s efforts to sustain fish stocks,” Mr. Hutchings and his colleagues wrote.

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Sadly, just like politics and business don’t mix so well… neither do science and politics; especially science that paints a picture of decisions needing to be made that aren’t popular with various industries (which, not coincidentally, often have high powered lobbies and political contribution campaigns — or simply have been granted access to something that they begin to figure is a ‘right’… not a privilege).

Hard decisions are called that for a reason… they’re “hard”.

Salmon for the forests; forests for the salmon… shocking…

Globe and Mail image

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Health of salmon run affects ecosystem of forest

I’m appreciative of the most recent Mark Hume article in the Globe and Mail.

However at the same time, it’s rather exhausting that these sorts of things come to light so slowly.

I tell the story often…

…when I was growing up on Haida Gwaii, I spent an immense amount of time fishing; largely for Pacific salmon. Coho, humpies, the odd Chum (Dog), and from time to time Chinook. Whenever we brought fish home, we had generally hiked them up the river on an alder branch broken off a tree nearby the closest “meathole”. Generally, we would clean the fish once we got home. Our mom told us for years to bury any heads and guts in the garden, but deep enough that some dog or cat wouldn’t dig them up.

Fertilizers of all sorts are generally made out of fishmeal — and in years gone by were a central component. Industrial fisheries in some far-away ocean grinding up some little fish on the ocean food chain to turn it into cheap fertilizer.

So if fishmeal, fish guts, and fish heads are good fertilizer in a garden — why they hell wouldn’t they be the same in the forest?

Indigenous cultures have been saying this for eons — “everything is connected.”

Ever look at a west coast totem pole… everything is connected.

Ever look at west coast, or even interior art… (you guessed it… everything is connected).

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So says the article:

When bears, wolves and other animals drag salmon carcasses from spawning streams they cause an intricate chain reaction that changes the nature of the surrounding forest, according to new research from Simon Fraser University.

Plant species that efficiently take up nitrogen from the decomposing bodies of salmon flourish – and soon there are more song birds, drawn by the dense growths of wild berry bushes and prolific insect hatches.

“The shift in dominance of some of these plant species was a lot more dramatic than I frankly had expected. Species like salmon berry it turns out are really well named. They tend to dominate in streams that have a large number of salmon,” said Prof. Reynolds, who oversaw the research project which was led by Morgan Hocking, a postdoctoral fellow.

In addition to looking at plant species, Prof. Reynolds said it is important to consider the physical characteristics of a stream as well, because animals avoid fishing in places where getting out of the water with a salmon is difficult because of steep banks.

“If it is a small stream and has shallow banks, then there is a lot better chance that the plants will be effected by the carcasses, because these are more accessible to bears,” he said.

I’m certainly appreciative of the research by Reynolds and Hocking. I’ve read quite a bit of their research before and it’s great to see some of it going a bit mainstream.

This is an image from Dr. Tom Reimchen’s lab at Uvic. It’s kind of ‘techie’ and scientific; however shows the same connections — or more like has been showing these connections through ‘scientific’ channels for quite some time.

Salmon enter the near-stream environment from bottom stage left, and become food, nutrients, energy for a pile of critters. (make sure you glance at the date: 1994)

"nutrient vectors"?

And well… what to our wonder…

Apparently salmon depend on the forests of the stream ecosystems they swim up to spawn and then often (for some species) spend several years in as baby salmon.

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An article just the other day from the Atlantic Salmon Federation:

Boreal Forest Water Vital to Atlantic Salmon

OTTAWA – A first of its kind report by the Pew Environment Group reveals that Canada’s boreal, the world’s largest intact forest and on-land carbon storehouse, contains more unfrozen freshwater than any other ecosystem. As United Nations’ International Year of Forests and World Water Day coincide, world leaders are grappling with water scarcity and pollution – and scientists are calling boreal protection a top global priority.

… [because Canada's Boreal Forest]:

  • contains 25 percent of the planet’s wetlands, millions of pristine lakes, and thousands of free-flowing rivers, totaling more than 197 million acres of surface freshwater;
  • provides an estimated $700 billion value annually as a buffer against climate change and food and water shortages;
  • offers the last refuges for many of the world’s sea-run migratory fish, including half of the remaining populations of North American Atlantic salmon.

“A first of its kind report…”??

Maybe for the Pew folks… but certainly not a unique idea. (as i’ve mentioned before… marketing is everything; everything is marketing).

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And so really… what all of this is saying is… if we’re going to do true “Ecosystem-Based Management” we better really think about the entire spectrum of ecosystems, and the endless interlinked relationships… and we should probably be cautious and use precaution because we might mess up a delicate balance…

But have no fear I tell you… because over ten years ago (1999) the Department of Fisheries and Oceans devised this incredible draft concept: Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy. One of the central components of that Policy was to be “Ecosystem-based management”…

How are we doing?

Utter failure.

Have you seen the allocations of salmon for species other than humans?

Like maybe Species at Risk Act (SARA) listed Resident Orcas in the Salish Sea that depend heavily on Fraser Chinook as a food source, or dwindling Grizzly Bears, or starving eagles?

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And south of us… have no fear, I found on the Pacific Fishery Management Council website that there is a sub-committee of a Committee holding a sub-Panel of a Panel to devise a Plan…

Sounds promising, let me tell you.

Ecosystem-Based Management Subcommittee of the Scientific and Statistical Committee and the Ecosystem Advisory Subpanel to Hold Work Sessions to Develop recommendations on an Ecosystem Fishery Management Plan

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene meetings of the Ecosystem-Based Management Subcommittee (Subcommittee) of the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the Ecosystem Advisory Subpanel (EAS) that are open to the public.  Please note, this is not a public hearing; it is a work session for the primary purpose of considering recommendations to the Council on the development of an Ecosystem Fishery Management Plan (EFMP).

I don’t mean to be the can of fish asshole today… but come on!

are you kidding?

I’m really not sure what an “ecosystem fishery” management plan is… isn’t that what we all do… go fishing in an “ecosystem”?

The Subcommittee session will focus on incorporating ecosystem science into the Council management process.  The joint session of the Subcommittee and the EAS will focus on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s California Current Integrated Ecosystem Assessment [take deep breath]. The EAS will also discuss available science and its potential application with the SSC and will develop recommendations on the EFMP’s purpose and need, regulatory authority, and management unit species for the June 2011 Council meeting in Spokane, Washington

(I’m not making this stuff up… true quotes)

I just don’t understand why they don’t form an advisory subsubcommittee (S2C) that will integrate a framework that will inform the sub-Panel of the Board of the Directors recommendations to the post-science, pre-conference, strategic planning sub-Group — which will in turn provide a background matrix and risk-management scaffolding to guide regulatory management and authority of that sub-species, pre-migratory, complex habitat, ecosystem-based, policy informing database and ecological modeling platform.

Maybe that’s why Dr. Reimchen’s work has never been officially incorporated into Department of Fisheries and Oceans “ecosystem-based management” policies. He must not have been on the sub-committee of the sub-Panel reporting to the EBM Board at the DFO…

But hey… thank ghad… there is contact info for the upcoming gathering down south:

For further information regarding the ecosystem-based management advisory subpanel and subcommittee work sessions, please contact…

… Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to … at least five days prior to the meeting date.

I, by no means fault the effort to provide access to individuals with disabilities — that’s important everyhwere… I’m just wondering if they’ll have “translation” services available. I think that could be a mandatory “auxiliary aid” for any of these salmon processes.

I was a at a conference in Portland, Oregon last year and there were translation services for Japanese and Russian participants — several times I was looking for the translation services for gobbledeegook, bumpf, bureaucratese, ‘science-chatter’. I’m sure some folks have been looking for these services at the Cohen Commission looking at declines [aka crash] of Fraser salmon in 2009…

It’s a disease… or a bumpf-ease… could one be so bold as to say “plain language might save the wild salmon”?

And maybe a return to a thousands and thousands of years old understanding… salmon are essential to forests; forests are essential to salmon.

“Everything is connected; connected is everything…”

Fish assholes?

are you kidding?

Have you ever seen such a thing?

I thought it a hoax of sorts until I searched online and found this:

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German style?

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I’m curious about how this would be as a “main dish”?

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This also seemed a fitting accompaniment… “side dish” if you will for another “once upon a salmon” tidbit.

This one comes from 1983 an “Ocean Law Memo” from the University of Oregon in 1983. Came across this randomly online.

The troubled Pacific Salmon Treaty: why it must be ratified

ocean_memo_24_1983

did we learn?.

Yup… I think this is referred to as the classic: “Tragedy of the Commons”.

If I don’t catch them, those fish assholes over there will… so why conserve?

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Next sentence?:

And so for years, Alaskans caught Canadian-bound salmon.

BC fisherfolks caught US-bound salmon.

And each side would retaliate against the other and try their best to be the biggest fish assholes, especially on trans-boundary rivers.

And who paid the worst price?

Well… the fish of course

(and the multitude of First Nation communities that depended on those annual returns).

And which fish got hammered the worst?

Well, Coho and Chinook are sure in deep trouble in a lot of places:

Chinook loss -- 1983. Do we ever learn?

And so here we are… 28 years later… and things look worse… much worse.

What are we now… 1000% below optimum?

And really, with all the threats such as urban expansion, climate change and the like… what is optimum “escapement” (spawners) now?

Is it double what it was in 1983… triple… quadruple?

And yet here we are in Canada faced with yet another multi-million dollar ‘review’ of “fisheries management”.

What possibly could have gone wrong?

Let’s search the culprits, the hypotheses, the theories, the ‘science’… what possibly could have gone wrong…?

“It just doesn’t make sense…”

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Who the ffff…

fruitcake

are we trying to fool here?

We fished the shit out of them for over a hundred years, stuffed more salmon in little aluminum cans then ever thought imaginable and sold them on the cheap.

They were an “endless resource”.

Nuke this stream, then just move up the coast.

Nuke that stream, then just move down coast.

Are there not enough abandoned, empty pilings rotting in the ebb and flow of Pacific tides to remind us of “WHY”?

Why?

 

Are we really going to continue to talk about dividing salmon right up until the last two are swimming upstream?

Look around the world… the history of “fisheries management” over the last 100 years, is an absolute f-in failure.

There’s a reason why the United Nations makes declarations to go to war… alongside: stating in no uncertain terms that fisheries around the world are in dismal shape.

Why?

Because wars and collapsing fisheries result in similar outcomes… dead and dying people; dead and dying communities; rubble and ruin.

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Who are the real fish assholes?

Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) muzzling scientists?

So the previous post here: marketing is everything; everything is marketing… (even at DFO) quoted a Mark Hume Globe and Mail article and his coverage of the Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser sockeye. At the Commission recently was Dr. Laura Richards, Pacific Regional Director of Science for DFO.

“Do you think it’s a role of DFO scientists to develop speeches for parliamentarians?” asked Bruce Wallace, senior commission counsel.

The role of science is really to provide factual information, and that’s what we do,” replied Dr. Richards.

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I’m a fan of the power of contradictions; they are often a source of power… of tension between opposing views… however, maybe not so much in testimony in a quasi-legal process.

Mark Hume writing in yesterday’s Globe:

Researcher suggests ‘salmon leukemia’ is to blame for decline of Fraser sockeye

Of all the theories heard so far by the Cohen Commission, the most intriguing involves new research by a molecular scientist who is pointing to the possibility of an epidemic of salmon leukemia.

Kristi Miller hasn’t been called to testify on her research yet, but her work is already causing a buzz at the inquiry, in part because it seems an effort has been made to keep it under wraps.

Dr. Miller has not been available for media interviews, even though she recently published a paper in the prestigious journal Science. Usually, Fisheries and Oceans Canada promotes interviews when one of their researchers gains an international profile for groundbreaking work. But when Dr. Miller’s paper came out earlier this year, all requests for interviews were denied.

When Laura Richards, Pacific regional director of science for DFO, testified last week, he asked her about a series of e-mails that suggested Dr. Miller was being muzzled.

In a Nov. 2009 e-mail to Mark Saunders, manager of salmon and freshwater ecosystems division, Dr. Miller said she was being kept away from a science forum.

“Laura [Richards] does not want me to attend any of the sockeye salmon workshops that are not run by DFO for fear that we will not be able to control the way the disease issue could be construed in the press. I worry that this approach of saying nothing will backfire,” she wrote. “Laura also clearly does not want to indicate … that the disease research is of strategic importance.”

Dr. Richards testified that Dr. Miller had somehow misinterpreted things, and that there was no intent to silence her.

Dr. Miller won’t testify for months yet and she remains banned from giving any media interviews. But her research, which could explain why up to three million salmon a year are dying in the Fraser, is already reverberating at the Cohen Commission.

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Research is suggesting that this ‘salmon leukemia’ virus is killing up to 70% of Fraser sockeye in some years. And this isn’t just any old research, it has been published in the prestigious journal Science.

The response from DFO to one of their scientists being published?

“…she remains banned from giving any media interviews.”

But don’t forget:

“The role of science is really to provide factual information, and that’s what we do,” says Dr. Richards – the Pacific Regional Director of Science for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

… except, it appears, when it really should be widely communicated and distributed.

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If you’d like to read other accounts of Dr. Richards enlightening testimony visit the Cohen Inquiry Notes blog by Elena Edwards who writes frequently about testimony at the Commission:

 

Inquiry into the Art of Avoidance

In a stunning display of ‘uh’s and um’s’ Dr. Richards responses to the line of questioning by Gregory McDade for the Aquaculture Coalition was nothing short of disappointing with many heads shaking in disbelief.

An example of the mind boggling testimony ;

McDade; “[At] the conference that saw Dr. Miller present her hypothesis that the disease agent is intercellular, possibly a virus? Do you remember that?”

Richards; “Uh, there was certainly a presentation that she made at that meeting and I, uh, I can’t recall specifically exactly what she said, but I have to assume that the abstract is an accurate representation.”

McDade points out, “Well, you in fact attended that meeting as co chair of the committee on scientific co operation…”

“That’s correct.”

“…and ultimately prepared a summary of these proceedings.”

Richards; “Uh, yes. That’s correct. Well, a very short summary that was sort of based on this.”

McDade; “Dr. Hinch sent you a copy of the very document we’re looking at.”

Richards; “Well I didn’t review the…, I can’t say that I honestly read every single line in this document but I did skim it, yes.”

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McDade asks the impossible question; “Do you not know what vertical transmission even means?”

Dr. Richards; “Uh, I’m not uh…I have a general sense of that but I’m not going to give you a specific definition. I think that really needs to be done with the experts.”

McDade; “Well, Dr Richards, I’m not looking for a highly technical definition here, I’m looking for your understanding about this.”

Silence settles over the room as everyone waits with baited breath for the intelligent response they all know is coming. And come it does as Dr. Richards replies;

Well we are talking, uh…I, I… look, I’m just, uh, I’m just, um … sorry, I’m sorry, I just, my brain has gone fuzzy on that particular point right now so I would rather not give you an answer that’s wrong.”

McDade, seeking clarity, asks; “Doesn’t it simply mean that you can transmit from the parents stock through the eggs to the next generation?”

Dr. Richards; “Uh, it, I think that’s what it is, but I would like to… as I said , this is not my area and I just want to be very careful  of to not give incorrect  evidence.”

Now imagine an entire day of such non answers to a very serious matter indeed, and perhaps we can begin to understand that if this is the type of management offered by DFO, we should be most concerned for the future of the Fraser River Sockeye Salmon!

marketing is everything; everything is marketing… (even at DFO)

I’ve said it before and will say it again… marketing is everything; everything is marketing…

Mark Hume writing at the Globe and Mail yesterday:

At DFO, scientists turned to speechwriters in salmon crisis

After Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks collapsed in 2009, scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were pressured to write parliamentary speeches for government MPs, a federal commission has been told.

“This is the only time that I have seen a request of this nature in my career,” Laura Richards, Pacific regional director of science for DFO, said Thursday in testifying at the Cohen commission, which is investigating the decline of sockeye populations in the Fraser.

“Do you think it’s a role of DFO scientists to develop speeches for parliamentarians?” asked Bruce Wallace, senior commission counsel.

“The role of science is really to provide factual information, and that’s what we do,” replied Dr. Richards.

But documents filed with the commission show that after only about one million sockeye returned in 2009 – when more than 10 million fish had been expected – scientists were under the gun to help government MPs explain the crisis.

On Oct. 2, 2009, Terry Davis, DFO’s regional director of communications, fired off an urgent e-mail to more than a dozen officials.

“The bottom line is that Parliamentary Affairs has asked for 80 minutes of speeches to be developed on a range of issues related to Pacific salmon, for use by members of the government, in the event that an emergency debate on Pacific salmon is called in the House of Commons,” he wrote.

“In most cases, these types of speeches are developed by program staff [in Ottawa].… However, in this instance, as the subject matter experts on Pacific salmon are based here, the Region has been asked to develop the speeches,” stated Mr. Davis.

The order to write speeches for MPs came even though objections had been raised only a few days earlier when science staff were asked to produce a speech for the minister.

A Sept. 29, 2009, e-mail from Paul Ryall, head of fisheries and aquaculture management, to DFO regional manager Sue Farlinger states: “We are being requested to draft speeches for the Minister. I don’t think this is our role. I can see that we can supply information and also address questions to a speech writer, but not be the lead on drafting a Minister’s speech.”

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Here’s a nice accompaniment to this news article. It’s a recent blog post from marketing guru Seth Godin:

Protecting the soft spot

We all have one. Or more than one. It’s that place where we can get hurt, the one we seek to defend.

For some people, it’s a boss calling us out in front of our peers. For someone else, it’s an angry customer. For someone else, it’s being confronted with a problem you can solve–but that the effort just seems too great.

The key question is this: how much does the act of protecting the soft spot actually make it more likely you will be hurt?

It turns out that the more you angle yourself, the harder you work to protect the soft spot, the more likely it is that you’ll get hurt.

All the time and effort you put into ducking and hiding and holding and avoiding might be sending the market a signal… the irony of your effort is that it’s probably making the problem worse.

 

Salmon status unknown

Recently at the Cohen Commission looking at declines of Fraser River sockeye, a backgrounder was released for one of the 12 technical reports to be completed:

Project 3 – Evaluating the Status of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon and Role of Freshwater Ecology in their Decline

Only the Executive Summary and Backgrounder is available for public consumption at this time.

This technical report was apparently meant to:

…investigate several aspects of Fraser sockeye ecology, including the status of sockeye Conservation Units, a review of industrial and urban impacts on freshwater ecology and salmon life history, and an expert assessment of potential impacts from historical industrial and urban activities on Fraser River sockeye.

This report is focused on evaluating changes in freshwater ecology and its role in recent sockeye salmon declines, including the status of sockeye salmon populations and habitats and the impacts of human activities on freshwater habitats.

Reading the Executive Summary for the report I was struck by some pretty curious statements:

This report is focused on evaluating changes in freshwater ecology and its role in recent sockeye salmon declines for the Cohen Commission. This work includes examining the status of sockeye salmon populations and habitats, as well as the impacts of human activities on freshwater habitats (i.e., logging, hydroelectricity, urbanization, agriculture, and mining).

Changes in freshwater ecology due to natural and human forces are hypothesized as having three pathways of effects. These pathways include effects on the: (1) quantity and quality of spawning habitats; (2) productivity of nursery lakes for rearing; and/or (3) habitat conditions associated with migration of smolts / adults.

To assess the current status of Fraser River sockeye salmon populations, we have been charged with three tasks:

(1) summarizing existing delineations of population diversity into Conservation Units (CUs) [a CU is defined by the Wild Salmon Policy as “a group of wild salmon sufficiently isolated from other groups that, if lost, is very unlikely to recolonize naturally within an acceptable time frame”];

(2) evaluating Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) methods for assessing conservation status; and

(3) determining the status of Fraser River sockeye salmon CUs. Delineations of Conservation Units were necessary to quantify habitat conditions, analyze landscape level disturbances, and evaluate the relationship between changes in freshwater ecology and changes in productivity…

Back to the Backgrounder:

Status of Conservation Units

The report identified 36 sockeye Conservations Units (CUs) within the Fraser River basin, including 30 lake and six river-type CUs..

The researchers found that 17 of the 36 Fraser sockeye CUs have poor population status and are distributed across all run timing groups.

The status of 11 CUs is unknown.

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So the status of at least 30% of the Conservation Units is unknown… yet, a CU is “a group of wild salmon sufficiently isolated from other groups that, if lost, is very unlikely to recolonize naturally within an acceptable time frame…”

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The Executive Summary continues:

… Given our review of available data, measures of freshwater habitat condition are generally not available across many CUs even though Strategy 2 of the Wild Salmon Policy is charged with developing relevant habitat indicators.

hmmm.

…Given a general lack of information that could be used to reliably define dynamic changes in condition across sockeye salmon spawning, rearing, and migratory habitats…

uh, huh…

Given a lack of experimental design in the way population, habitat, and stressor data have been collected, our ability to test for cause and effect relationships between the freshwater environment and Fraser sockeye salmon declines was limited. As a result, we were only able to use a limited set of quantitative techniques and data summaries to assess the role of freshwater influences.

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‘Measures not available’… ‘lack of information’… ‘lack of experimental design data being collected’… ‘tests for cause and effect limited’… ‘limited set of quantitative techniques and data’…

Do I sense a pattern here?

And yet…conclusion is:

…we believe that recent declines in Fraser River sockeye salmon are unlikely to be the result of changes in the freshwater environment.

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And so a desktop, office exercise (one that was probably not cheap) for: “evaluating the status of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon and the role of Freshwater ecology in their Decline” concludes on “limited data” and “lack of information” that the freshwater environment for Fraser sockeye is just fine.

Is something amiss here?

But wait… a consulting firm that states its mission is: “to bring together people, science and analytical tools to sustain healthy ecosystems and human communities.” And “our dedicated and knowledgeable team of scientists fills a niche in the consulting field — we work together in interdisciplinary teams with our clients, applying quantitative methods and qualitative concepts to resolve complex natural resource and environmental management problems”

states in its recommendations:

(1) To improve our understanding about survival at critical freshwater life stages, scientists need better estimates of juvenile abundance, overwinter survival, and mortality during smolt outmigration.

(2) To improve our understanding about population status across Conservation Units, scientists need more information about the abundance and distribution of small lake and all river CUs.

(3) To improve our understanding about habitat status across Conservation Units, scientists need information on habitats monitored in a consistent manner on a regular basis across a larger number of rivers and nursery lakes.

(4) To improve our understanding about the population level effects of stressors on freshwater habitats, scientists need more precise estimates of the biological consequences of disturbance as a function of increasing stress.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Appears scientists need a lot of information on the freshwater environment, yet some scientists “in the consulting field” can still state that recent declines are not a result of the freshwater environment, yet also state “ohhh, we need more research, more research…”

Something just doesn’t sit right here…

Didn’t it state at the beginning that: “Changes in freshwater ecology due to natural and human forces are hypothesized as having three pathways of effects. These pathways include effects on the: (1) quantity and quality of spawning habitats; (2) productivity of nursery lakes for rearing; and/or (3) habitat conditions associated with migration of smolts / adults.”

But then it is stated in the recommendations that we need far more research on all of those “three pathways of effects”?

Fraser sockeye declines are not a result of freshwater habitat changes… but we better do more research?

Fraser sockeye declines are not a result of freshwater habitat changes… but there are huge data gaps?

Which one is it?

_ _ _ _ _ _

The final recommendation stated is:

(5) To improve transparency in the science and related decision making scientists, managers, and the public need information that is more accessible and collected in a way that is more integrated across federal and provincial agencies.

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Couldn’t agree more… The public certainly does need information that is more accessible.

Maybe I’m making some pretty early judgments without reading the full report, but it doesn’t hurt to ask the questions…

“Analogies between commercial poultry production and Atlantic salmon aquaculture may be informative”

Some interesting articles over at Wired magazine that I hadn’t picked up before — and maybe somewhat informative as the Cohen Commission into Fraser sockeye declines starts going over related information:

Brandon Keim writes last summer, 2010:

which is the diseased-ridden salmon?

Salmon Killer Disease Mystery Solved

The identity of a mysterious disease that’s raged through European salmon farms, wasting the hearts and muscles of infected fish, has been revealed.

Genome sleuthing shows the disease is caused by a previously unknown virus. The identification doesn’t suggest an obvious cure — for now, scientists have only a name and a genome — but it’s an important first step.

“It’s a new virus. And with this information now in hand, we can make vaccines,” said Ian Lipkin, director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, a World Health Organization-sponsored disease detective lab.

Two years ago, Norweigan fisheries scientists approached Lipkin and asked for help in identifying the cause of Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation, or HSMI, the official name for a disease first identified in 1999 on a Norweigan salmon farm.

Infected fish are physically stunted, and their muscles are so weakened that they have trouble swimming or even pumping blood. The disease is often fatal, and the original outbreak has been followed by 417 others in Norway and the United Kingdom. Every year there’s more of the disease, and it’s now been seen in wild fish, suggesting that farm escapees are infecting already-dwindling wild stocks.

Lipkin’s team — which has also identified mystery viruses killing Great Apes in the Ivory Coast, and sea lions off the U.S. West Coast — combed through genetic material sampled from infection salmon pens, looking for DNA sequences resembling what’s seen in other viruses, and inferring from those what the HSMI-causing sequence should look like. Lipkin likened the process to solving a crossword puzzle. The researchers eventually arrived at the 10-gene virus they called piscine reovirus, or PRV. The virus was described July 9 in Public Library of Science One.

Related reoviruses have been found on poultry farms and cause muscle and heart disease in chickens. “Analogies between commercial poultry production and Atlantic salmon aquaculture may be informative,” wrote the researchers. “Both poultry production and aquaculture confine animals at high density in conditions that are conducive to transmission of infectious agents.”

Such findings may be useful as the Obama administration develops a national policy for regulating aquaculture.

“If the potential hosts are in close proximity, it goes through them like wildfire,” said Lipkin.

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One mystery ‘solved’ and another found… Keim’s newer article from early in the new year 2011:

Mystery Disease Found in Pacific Salmon

diseased salmon?

Traces of viral activity have been found in a mysteriously dwindling population of Pacific salmon, hinting at an explanation for deaths that have so far baffled scientists.

In fish returning to Canada’s Fraser River, site of the die-off and home to one of North America’s last great sockeye salmon runs, researchers discovered patterns of gene expression usually seen when a body fights a virus.

The findings are not conclusive, and pose many as-yet-unanswered questions. “This is the discovery stage,” said Scott Hinch, a University of British Columbia salmon ecologist. “But it raises all kinds of concerns.”

The importance of salmon in the Fraser and elsewhere isn’t only in the intrinsic marvelousness of creatures that are born far from the sea, spend adulthood thousands of miles away in the open ocean, and return in a final blaze of upstream glory to spawn and die in the waters of their birth.

The Fraser River’s wild salmon fishery is worth about $1 billion annually. And that’s just the obvious value. Salmon migration is also a physical circuit to the sea, each body a mass of nutrients carried from ocean to continental interior, scattered by scavengers across the land.

Some researchers think the Pacific northwest’s forests are so lush not just because of the region’s climate, but because its soils were fertilized for thousands of years by salmon bodies — an extraordinary line of natural credit, now threatened by dams and overfishing.

Unlike other major river systems on North America’s Pacific coast, however, the Fraser is largely undammed. Even as other Pacific salmon populations vanished or entered boom-and-bust cycles typical of ecosystems on the brink of collapse, its own populations persisted. Until the early 1990s, about 8 million sockeye salmon returned each year to spawn. Then their numbers started drop.

In some years, half of the Fraser’s returning sockeye die before spawning. In other years, mortality is closer to 95 percent. “The causal mechanisms of this premature mortality have eluded multidisciplinary research by scientists and fisheries managers,” wrote Hinch and his colleagues, led by biologist Kristina Miller of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in a Jan. 14 Science paper.

In less academic terms, the fish are dying, and nobody can figure out why.

Five years ago, the researchers noticed that some Fraser sockeye appeared to show unusual signs of physiological stress while at sea. In the new study, they take that work to the genomic level. Salmon were caught, biopsied and tagged with radio transmitters in the ocean, about 120 miles from the Fraser; at the Fraser’s mouth; and again on their spawning grounds. For each stage, the researchers could look for patterns in gene expression, then see if they tracked with differences in fate.

A pattern stood out. Many of the fish displayed high activity in a set of genes typically activated in response to viral infection. When this genomic signature was found in ocean fish, they were 13.5 times more likely to die before reaching the Fraser. When the signature was found in fish tagged in the river, they were 50 percent more likely to die before reaching their spawning grounds. In fish tagged on their spawning grounds, those with the signature were 3.7 times more likely to die without mating.

“It’s excellent science,” said fish microbiologist James Winton of the U.S. Geological Survey, who was not involved with the research. “This appears to be quite important.” Winton applauded the researchers’ approach, which had never before been used in salmon, a species for which researchers only notice the most obvious diseases.

“The fact that, within the physiology of these fish, you can see signs of who is likely to make it and who won’t, is amazing,” said Michael Webster, a program officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Wild Salmon Ecosystems Initiative.

However, though a virus is the most likely culprit, it hasn’t yet been isolated. The findings open up a range of new questions, said each of the researchers: If the pattern is indeed caused by a virus widespread in the Fraser, where did it come from? Was it introduced, just as infectious hematopoietic necrosis — a lethal virus endemic in Pacific salmon — has been transferred around the world? If it was always there, did it suddenly evolve into a more virulent form? Or is something else exacerbating its effects?

The researchers suspect climate has a role in the answers to some of these questions. In the last 40 years, the Fraser’s waters have warmed by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit, with most of that coming in the last 15 years. “In some cases, that temperature alone is pushing fish stocks to the edge,” said Hinch.

Heat and stress can weaken fish, making them more vulnerable to disease. Changing temperatures also change the ranges of microbes and parasites, allowing them to move into new regions. Over the last decade, the Yukon River has been invaded by Ichthyophonus, a parasite that threatens the river’s Chinook salmon population [along with the Marine Stewardship Council eco-certified Bering Sea pollock fishery]. It’s believed to have spread because of changing temperatures.

“We use the term emerging diseases. In humans, it’s the SARS coronavirus, or avian flu. They also occur in fish. Part of (their increasing incidence) is due to the fact that more people are looking, with better tools. Part of it is due to us moving pathogens around the globe. And part of it due to increasing stress on these animals,” said Winton. “At some point, we’re going to add the last straw.”

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Does increasing stress, increasing temperatures and the like maybe suggest we should be even more precautionary in our ‘management’?

Maybe more salmon should get to the spawning grounds?

Maybe we’ll need to forgo some ‘economic’ gain now, to preserve for the future… you know… like a savings account, or an RRSP? (we certainly wouldn’t want that to stand for Registered Reductions in Salmon Populations).

Remember the last sentence of the previous article… “If the potential hosts are in close proximity, it goes through them like wildfire”… and combine with the one above: “At some point, we’re going to add the last straw.

Figure this one out… DFO at its finest.

Some interesting salmon articles over the last few days.

Carrying capacity? (Victoria, BC circa 1977)

Figure this one out… Mark Hume in the Globe and Mail yesterday:

B.C. anglers want Ottawa to charge them more to fish salmon

Sports anglers in British Columbia have asked the federal government to charge them more to go salmon fishing.

But the 300,000 anglers who annually buy salt-water licences on the West Coast just can’t get the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to agree to a fee hike, a federal commission appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper heard Monday.

“We have been enormously frustrated by the Department’s inability to charge us more money,” Gerry Kristianson told the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.

Mr. Kristianson, Chair of the Sport Fishery Advisory Board (SFAB), said salt-water-fishing licences haven’t increased in price since the mid-1990s, and anglers are prepared to pay more if the money will be returned by the government to help manage the resource.

He said his board, which advises DFO on a voluntary basis, has been told the request for higher licence fees is caught up in government red tape.

Mr. Kristianson said it seems odd any group “is unable to have the government collect more money from it,” and urged Commissioner Bruce Cohen to look into the situation.

Mr. Kwak [also from SFAB] said the province is considering hiking its fresh-water licence fees, and urged Mr. Cohen to keep that in mind should he make any recommendations concerning increases to the federal salt-water licence.

He also told the Commission “upward of 5,000 fishermen a day” can be seen on the Fraser during the sockeye run, but said it is not clear how many fish they catch, because DFO doesn’t have a comprehensive or rigorous way of collecting catch data.

Mr. Kwak questioned whether an accurate count of anglers can be made from patrol flights over the Fraser. And he said DFO workers, who ask anglers on the river how many fish they have caught, in an onsite survey, can get misleading data, because fishermen exaggerate how many fish they have caught…

_ _ _ _ _

And so sport fishers are asking DFO to charge them more for licenses… and… DFO does not get accurate information on how many fish sport fishers are catching.

Hmmmm… I think I sense one potential solution here… maybe charge sport fishers more and then use those fees to better monitor the sport fishery itself?

_ _ _ _ _ _

Two related articles. One also from Mark Hume at the Globe and Mail:

Rising temperature in Fraser River affecting Salmon population

The Fraser River is heating up because of climate change and an increasing number of salmon are dying in the warmer water from diseases or parasites or are simply dropping dead from cardiac collapse, a federal judicial inquiry has been told.

Scott Hinch, an expert witness on aquatic ecology, told the Commission of Inquiry Into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River that sometimes 50 per cent of the salmon that return to the river die before they reach the spawning beds.

Dr. Hinch said because the Fraser has increased in temperature by about 2 degrees C, salmon are changing the timing of their spawning migrations, to enter rivers weeks earlier or later, in an effort to avoid warm water. And once in the river they are seeking out cold-water refuges, sometimes going up tributaries to sink to the bottoms of lakes or schooling where cold streams enter the Fraser.

As water temperatures continue to climb (predictions suggest an increase of between 2 and 4 degrees over the next 60 to 80 years), more and more Fraser River salmon are likely to die before they have a chance to spawn, said Dr. Hinch, a fisheries researcher and professor at the University of British Columbia.

“Certainly we’re gong to see higher en route mortality [in the future],” he said. “We’re going to have to forsake more harvest on these fish.”

Dr. Hinch said the warmer water doesn’t kill fish directly, but once the temperature of the Fraser has climbed above 18 degrees C, as it does for several weeks every summer, the fish are subject to stresses which increase the chances of death.

Higher water temperatures also increase the rate of development of pathogens, exposing salmon to disease.

The research, one of 12 scientific papers being prepared at the request of Commissioner Bruce Cohen, says the phenomenon of en route loss of salmon was first reported in 1992 for three distinct runs of sockeye, which come back to the Fraser in the spring, early summer and summer. A fourth run of sockeye, which returns to the river in the fall, didn’t exhibit the problem until 1996.

The paper states that since 1996 “en route loss of at least 30 per cent has been observed for at least one run-timing group in each year,” and many stocks have had losses of 50 per cent or more.

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Gee… sure makes sense to me then, that we should be harvesting upwards of 80% of these runs as one other pre-eminent scientist has suggested to the Cohen Commission and spouted off on radio, tv, and wherever else his voice could be recorded last year.

Bring back maximum sustainable yield…!

kidding.

Dr. Hinch and Dr. Martins, who synthesized decades of salmon research in their paper, said warmer water temperatures appear to be decreasing the survivability of salmon at nearly all life stages, not just when the fish are adults returning to spawn.

But Dr. Hinch said there is “shockingly little information” on the early life stages of salmon.

He also noted that one run of sockeye, which goes up the Fraser and then into the glacial-fed Chilko River, have adapted to handle dramatic temperature ranges.

He said it is important to protect a wide variety of salmon stocks, because it is not clear which fish may hold the genetic key to survive in the warmer water of the future.

I’ve noted this before… in asking DFO they really only investigate about two sockeye nursery lakes in the entire Fraser system. Some estimates suggest there hundreds of nursery lakes.

Sounds like biodiversity and protecting all runs is important — and even more important as every organism has to become more rapidly adaptive to climate change. Human communities are sure as hell having to become more adaptive — especially coastal communities. There’s only so much boulder rip-rap armoring of coastlines that can be done to protect infrastructure…

_ _ _ _ _ _

The Tyee has also ran a related article:

‘Perfect storm’ of virus and warming water threaten sockeye: scientist

An expert in aquatic ecology told the Cohen Commission that a retrovirus is having a more devastating effect on salmon smolt as rising water temperatures put stress on them.

Dr. Scott Hinch, expert in aquatic ecology and forestry professor at the University of British Columbia took the stand as a witness accompanied by Eduardo Martins, UBC population ecologist at the Federal Judicial Inquiry in to the collapse of the 2009 Sockeye Salmon runs yesterday and today.

Hinch said the optimal average temperature for salmon is around 13-15 degrees. Over the last 20 years the Fraser River has increased by about 2 degree, often causing salmon to seek thermal refuge in cold water at the bottoms of stream or lakes.

“Survival decreases as temp increases,” said Martins, whose research showed that an increase in water temperatures would likely a higher die off rate among smolts and older salmon.

“Mortality got to be a problem at about 18 degrees in the river. When things got up to about 19 degrees stocks survived very poorly,” said Hinch.

Climate change has been showed to be a major stressor for returning salmon. But far less is known about how climate change is affecting salmon while they are at sea.

“This life stage is the most poorly understood of the salmon, there is a major data gap when they are in the open ocean,” said Hinch.

“It’s possible to keep fish alive [in warmer water temperature], if the water is pathogen free,” explained Hinch.

But the water in which B.C. salmon swim isn’t pathogen free. In fact a mysterious retro-virus that has been shown to be killing off large numbers of salmon before they have spawned. Salmon showing a certain genomic predisposition were 13.5 more likely to die before spawning than their healthier counterparts.

“Warm water highly increases the mortality rate of pre-spawning salmon,” explained Hinch. “Stress hormones impede their ability to spawn, and develop eggs and sperm. And higher temperatures, are making it harder for the fish who are experiencing disease to cope.”

Also of central concern are early entry patterns of returning salmon. Some runs are not holding in the mouth of the river as long, and are spawning as early as two months earlier that their usual run time.

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This is an important point:

“Climate change has been showed to be a major stressor for returning salmon. But far less is known about how climate change is affecting salmon while they are at sea.”

Well… we will never know much about what is going on out at sea… and we will never be able to accurately predict the impacts of climate change, nor rates of rapid change.

And what does this mean?

More precaution. Give the wild salmon a chance…

climate change isn’t going anywhere… it’s here to stay.

 

The death of economics? The death of salmon “maximum sustainable yield”?

In recent travels to a used book store,  I picked up a book on economics alongside some old reports on salmon from the 1930s. (And, yes, this did illicit some groans from certain family members…)

The Death of Economics

The Death of Economics” was written by British thinker and economist Paul Ormerod in the mid 1990s. It became a pretty good seller. He’s written two other books on similar topics. His website suggests that his research interests are:

Networks – How people, firms, things are connected to each other, and how different ways in which they are connected have different implications.

Complex Systems – How the properties of systems as a whole emerge from the interactions of their component parts. These are systems in which the whole is more than the sum of the parts.

‘Rule of thumb’ – decision makers in economics. How we can understand many social and economic questions better if we relax the traditional assumption that decision makers attempt to find the ‘best’ decision. Instead, they appear to use simple rules of thumb to arrive at ‘fairly good’ decisions.

Those three research interests are rather fitting to our relationship with wild salmon. If we approached discussions and research on wild salmon with those three categories in the forefront, we might just improve the relationship.

See… the tools of “salmon management” really aren’t that far off from the tools of economics. For example, does the term “maximum sustainable yield” (MSY) really sound like an equation developed by ecologists or systems theorists or quantum physicists exploring complex systems?

No… not really.

MSY is a single species, largely single-factor, narrow-minded, simple system equation for maximizing profits.

Well… and… the history of the salmon fishery on the BC coast demonstrates time and time again that we have utterly failed at “maximizing profits” from the ‘resource’. An over-capitalized, over-subsidized, fishing fleet coupled with dysfunctional equations and models and political interference and political lobbying by high-powered special interest groups has led us down the road we currently find ourselves lost on (e.g. another multi-million dollar judicial inquiry: Cohen Commission — as one example, the fifth in 20 years…).

And in the meantime… where is the $$ and focus on the actual places where salmon live… I think it’s called “habitat”?

_ _ _ _ _

Omerod in his book:

Many people feel instinctively uncomfortable when mathematics is applied to the analysis of human activities [or salmon, or nature in general]. The description of behavior in symbols and equations seems in some rather disagreeable way to undermine the concept of free will…

… the temptation to use mathematics is irresistible for economists. It appears to convey the appropriate air of scientific authority and precision to economists’ musings. More subtly, its use hides the implications of many of the assumptions which are made routinely in professional work.

Despite these important qualifications and reservations, mathematics — if properly used — can be of great value in political economy. Like language, it is simply a tool to assist the process of thought.

Seen in its proper role, as servant, not master maths is an invention which can increase enormously the productivity of thinking [think of George Orwell’s thoughts that words are our servants, not our master]. In our everyday lives we are familiar with the myriad inventions which enhance productivity, whether at home or at work. The washing machine enables more washing to be done more efficiently in much less time that if it were done by hand. The word processor allows more documents to be produced more quickly than if they were written out by hand.

Similarly, maths can vastly increase the power and effectiveness of thought. Complex problems, which would take many pages of words to describe, can be stated more succinctly, and their implications analyzed more clearly, by the use of mathematics than by the use of words. And there are many problems which are quite beyond the power of words to analyze. In the same way that one would use words and not maths to write poetry, maths and not words is helpful in deciding how to send a rocket to the moon.

… But it was not the use of maths by itself which led economics to its present erroneous path; rather, it was a result of seeking to raise economics to the status of the physical sciences that the pioneers of the new economics in the late 19th century adopted the then dominant view of the harder sciences, which saw the world as a smoothly functioning machine. As it happens, this particular picture of the world led to the use of certain kinds of mathematical tools and approaches rather than others. But at least initially the economics drove the maths, rather than the other way round.

Much the same issue remains in “natural resource management”… the world is a smoothly functioning machine in the eyes of ‘resource managers’, which continues to lead us to mathematical tools and computer models which drive our relationships with things and critters like wild salmon.

Yet… a classic conundrum remains — how does the machine-mentality of math and computer modeling dominant in “salmon management” compare with the simple emotional, spiritual, and cultural connection (indigenous and settler alike) to wild salmon and the streams they inhabit?

How do government ministries and bureaucrats quantify the salmon connection throughout the range of Pacific salmon across the Pacific Rim?

Not that quantifying it is what really needs to happen… however what would be the purpose of a giant budget-sucking Ministry if we simply looked after wild salmon for the simple fact of keeping them in our lives and in our backyards because of a deep spiritual and cultural connection?

What if coastal communities and interior communities alike suggested: “you know… actually… we prefer salmon in our streams as opposed to salmon fishing boats at our docks.” (at least until population recover coast-wide to numbers that can support food fisheries).

Or: “you know… actually… we prefer wild salmon in our streams as opposed to the twinning of that freeway… let’s put that money into habitat work instead, which still means jobs and economy…”

But then that would just be idealistic nonsense, wouldn’t it?

Or… is this just a classic boom and bust cycle that has haunted human civilizations for quite some time. If you read much of the older mainstream material on salmon over the last… say 70 – 100 years… the absolute main focus is on economic values.

How many cases of salmon were canned this year?

What was the ex-vessel value? How many jobs?

In behind all the economic discussion are warnings of overfishing, habitat destruction, caution, precaution, tragedy of the commons warnings, and the like… but those all play second fiddle to the lead soloist: Economics.

Is it possible that the death of economics will come in the salmon discussion?

Near the end of his book, Ormerod states:

Behavior of the system in aggregate cannot be deduced by simply summing up the behavior of its individual component parts.

Indeed…