Monthly Archives: August 2013

More salmon bycatch… on BC Northwest Coast… maybe should talk to folks on the Yukon River…

Press release today from three organizations: Skeena Wild, Raincoast, and Watershed Watch.

August 19, 2013 12:07 ET

Conservation Groups Say Federal Investigation is Scapegoating Fishermen

“DFO and Pattison Group throwing a few fishermen under the bus won’t fix systemic problems”

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – Aug. 19, 2013) – The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has announced they are investigating the fishermen shown in a controversial video released last week that documents serious violations of fishing regulations and no enforcement in this year’s largest Canadian salmon fishery. DFO has asked SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, and Raincoast Conservation Foundation to hand over their raw footage, taken in the Area 6 seine fishery west of Kitimat, BC. But the groups say that the federal government and companies like the Jim Pattison Group are serving the fishermen up as scapegoats so that they don’t have to sit down with the conservationists and fishermen to identify real, lasting solutions.

Fisheries targeting abundant pink salmon runs on BC’s north coast are required to return chum, sockeye, and other salmon species back to the water “with the least possible harm” because of concerns for their very low abundance across large sections of the coast. The video shows fishermen handling the prohibited species in such a manner that they are being discarded dead or nearly dead. At least 167,000 salmon from prohibited species have been discarded in north coast salmon fisheries so far this year, and another 24,000 have been discovered dead at processing plants.

“DFO and the big processors have set these guys up to take the fall,” said Greg Taylor, a former fishing company executive, now with SkeenaWild. “It’s just plain wrong. Our objective in releasing the video was to improve the fishery so that future generations have some salmon left, not punish a bunch of hard working guys who are working for Jimmy Pattison. I don’t know how Minister Shea and Mr. Pattison will be able to sleep at night if they go through with this.”

The Pattison Group owns the Ocean’s and Gold Seal brands of canned salmon, controls the largest portion of the seine fleet, and is BC’s dominant salmon processor.

“Having a few fishermen charged, and their lives disrupted because they happened to be the first ones in line when we showed up with our camera is not going to fix the broken management system that let this fishery get so far out of control,” said Aaron Hill, an ecologist with Watershed Watch. “All three of the boats we filmed mishandled fish, and now DFO and the Jim Pattison Group are trying to paint them as ‘just a few bad actors’? It’s outrageous. The practices we exposed are commonplace in the fleet, but the fishermen are the solution; DFO and companies like the Pattison Group are the problem,” concluded Hill.

“They’ve asked us for our raw footage, and we’ll provide it,” said Greg Knox, executive director of SkeenaWild. “But if anyone should be taking the fall here, it’s the Fisheries Minister, top bureaucrats, and fishing company executives who have ignored these problems for decades, not the people working to feed their families under a broken system that rewards bad behavior.”

Fraser River sockeye forecast is blown… Again. And river temps at record highs.

Salmon management Denial Train

Salmon management Denial Train

Yesterday the Pacific Salmon Commission confirmed what many figured would probably be the case in the first place… the forecasts for Fraser Sockeye were blown… AGAIN.

Yet, the Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans and PSC will carry on about how predictions are a tough business, etc. etc. And that if we look closely at the end of the season that the returning numbers of Fraser sockeye to the mouth were actually in their 25% probability range.

Here’s the newly adopted in-season run predictions for Fraser sockeye from the PSC’s Friday news release:

in-season Fraser sockeye run size predictions ala Pacific Salmon Commission

in-season Fraser sockeye run size predictions ala Pacific Salmon Commission

The real blown part of the ‘forecast’ is in the Summer runs grouping – Again (the ‘groupings still a problem in themselves). Appears that things were missed by close to half (circled in dark blue near the middle of image). The overall result is a difference of pre-season prediction of close to 5 million (circled in orange) and a current in-season estimate of just over 2.6 million (circled in red). However, we still don’t have an in-season estimate on late summers, which are going to be hooped if river temps stay anywhere near where they are. Chances are good as the temps in the lower Fraser have been climbing steadily all week.

Here’s the PSC narrative on that:

Record Fraser River temperatures. Aug. 9, 2013.

Record Fraser River temperatures. Aug. 9, 2013.

The “management adjustment” is the WFU factor.

(We F’ed Up and now our ‘management’ kicks in – factor).

The best part of all this is the language that the PSC uses to try and explain themselves out of this:

Fraser sockeye PSC languageTthe stocks have “experienced below average total productivity relative to the historical”… Hmmm.

Wasn’t this the year of the return of the 2009 Fraser sockeye run that was the lowest ever on record and was a completely blown forecast from 10 million predicted by the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans in the pre-season?

Wasn’t this the progeny of the 2009 run that motivated the unprecedented some-$26 million judicial inquiry – the Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser sockeye? (which remains unimplemented).

Not to mention that it seems fisheries managers are suffering from a classic philosophical problem – the problem of induction. Old English philosopher Bertrand Russell explained it well in the early 1900s – basically calling it the turkey problem.

See the turkey, a few days before Thanksgiving, sees the farmer walking across the farmyard carrying a unique glittering thing. The turkey figures, “oh whatever, our beloved farmer is just coming to feed us, like she has for the last 500 or so days.”

The turkey suffers from the classic problem of induction… because that day figuring all will be like history has suggested: e.g., farmer arrives, I get fed. Unfortunately, it has suffered from a classic error. As not long after this thought that its feeding time (again), like every day in turkey memory before that… it loses its head. And off to market and some happy family dinner table.

Russell used the example that classic human folly suggests we believe the sun will rise tomorrow just like it has for the last however long – yet… there is a chance that it won’t. But we continue to believe in the “historical time series”… That will do us little good the day that the sun does not rise in the way that it has for the last several millenniums. The Black Swan event, as some call it.

The problem with this thinking is that the historical time series is only part of reality – however fisheries managers put an immense amount of stock in it… and then get burned, like they are this year (again), and come out looking like turkeys, or at least being painted with that bad feather brush.

Time for things to change – as the Skeena and Fraser Rivers and many others… have been warning for quite some time.

 

The year of the Skeena River sockeye crash: 2013.

include Skeena sockeye in this one

Seems it’s now the Skeena River’s turn to experience a sockeye crash. Pre-season predictions suggested somewhere between 600,000 – 800,000 sockeye. Current in-season estimates are now just over 400,000 and all targeted fisheries on sockeye have been closed – including First Nations.

Here’s an idea… let’s launch another multi-million dollar judicial inquiry that results in hundreds of recommendations that never get implemented…

Category(s): ABORIGINAL – General Information
Subject: FN0702-ABORIGINAL- General Information- Area 3 to 5- Skeena sockeye retention and gillnets prohibited in First Nations Food, Social and Ceremonial Fisheries

Returns of sockeye to the Skeena River continue to be at extremely low levels.
As of today, the mid-point run estimate is in the low 400,000 range.  First
Nations that harvest Skeena sockeye have been consulted and agree that this
return size is a conservation concern. 

Therefore, starting at 00:01 hours Tuesday August 6, 2013, the following
measures will be in place:

1. For Area 4, Area 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-10, and 5-11, and Area 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, and
3-4:

-Retention of sockeye will not be permitted;
-Use of gillnets will not be permitted;
-Fishing for other species using gear types other than gillnet will
continue to be permitted, in accordance with communal licences.

2. For the Skeena River from the Area 4 commercial boundary (Mowitch Point to
Vetch Point) to the confluence with the Babine River and up to the Babine weir:

-Retention of sockeye will not be permitted;
-Use of gillnets will not be permitted;
-Fishing for other species using gear types other than gillnet will
continue to be permitted, in accordance with communal licences.

3. For the Babine weir and Babine Lake:

-The Babine weir will be closed for large sockeye harvesting;
-Only jack sockeye will be harvested at the Babine weir;
-Large sockeye will be harvested in Babine Lake;
-Fishing for other species will continue to be permitted, in
accordance with communal licences.

Another blown Fraser salmon forecast… runs “lower than expected”…

chinook circle black

Seems like another year of blown Fraser sockeye forecasts… maybe it’s not the runs that are ‘lower than expected’ and more that we can expect most forecasts to be higher than the runs expected?

News Release from the Pacific Salmon Commission today – below. Not only was the forecast wrong, the Fraser River is smoking hot – over 20 degrees Celsius (water temperature that is). With current weather forecasts and low flows, don’t imagine this will be getting any better any time soon.

And yet, the $26 million recommendations from Cohen Commission have disappeared like a PMO Chief of Staff…

Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The Fraser River Panel met Tuesday, August 6 to receive an update on the migration of Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon and review the status of migration conditions in the Fraser River watershed.
Although the migration of Fraser sockeye through the marine approach routes to the Fraser River has increased in recent days, it is still considerably lower than expected. This is primarily due to the lower than expected migration of Summer-run through the marine approach routes to-date. At the meeting today, the Panel approved an increase in the run size estimate for Early Summer-run sockeye from 400,000 to 452,000 fish. Their 50% migration timing through Area 20 is estimated to be July 22, which is one day earlier than expected. Current assessments suggest that the abundance of Summer-run sockeye is either lower than forecast or their migration timing is much later than expected. An in-season assessment of Summer-run sockeye abundance should be available by later this week.

The proportion of Late-run sockeye migrating through the marine assessment areas has increased over recent days.

DNA analyses continue to indicate that Fraser River pink salmon currently comprise a small proportion of the pink salmon presently being harvested in marine area test fisheries, which is consistent with the later marine timing of Fraser pinks relative to Washington and Canada South Coast (non-Fraser) pink salmon stocks.
On August 5, the Fraser River water discharge at Hope was 3,150 cms, which is approximately 26% lower than average for this date. The temperature of the Fraser River at Qualark Creek on August 5 was 20.5 degrees C, which is 2.8 degrees C higher than average for this date. Sustained exposure of sockeye to Fraser River water temperatures in this range may cause high pre-spawning mortality.

Doesn’t sound or look or feel like things will be improving for Fraser sockeye any time soon. Good thing taxpayers flipped a $26 million bill for a thousands of hours of lawyers, ‘biologists’ and a judge’s time…

And those that care about salmon… most definitely do not want to hear about Fraser Chinook this year… (some of the worst numbers on record in ‘test fisheries’ and yet some sport fisheries remain open for them… go figure…)