Initially these five stages were applied to people dealing with terminal illnesses; however over the years they’ve been applied to various big events such as divorce, job loss, tragedies, and so on.
When it comes to wild salmon; many folks seem to be exhibiting classic grief stages. It’s hard not to when we look at what’s happened to wild salmon along the Pacific Coast — for example, Fraser River sockeye in British Columbia:
Or the current situation with early-timed Chinook on the Fraser River (see yesterday’s post) — which are facing extinction at current numbers and forecasts, with the added threat of Chinook sport fisheries open coast wide in BC right now.
Unfortunately, far too many individuals are only in the first stage of grief: DENIAL.
A few weeks ago I attended the Simon Fraser University-hosted Summit on Fraser River Sockeye: Understanding Stock Declines and Prospects for the Future. I listened to a very senior biologist with an international organization responsible for assisting in managing Fraser sockeye suggest that the declining productivity of sockeye in some rivers “has a silver lining”.
The “silver lining” as he explained is that many of these rivers with declining runs and productivity — for example the Bowron River up near where I live in Prince George — have small runs of sockeye and thus we don’t have to be that concerned with the significantly declining productivity.
During the question period I made it very clear that the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation didn’t see any “silver lining” in the “small” run of the Bowron declining rapidly. So rapidly, that the Bowron run, which spawns in the world famous paddling route of the Bowron Lakes is looking at potential returns this year of less than 1000. This despite maximum runs of 35,000 over the last 50 years. Lheidli folks have voluntarily not fished the Bowron run for somewhere near 30 years. There is absolutely no “silver lining” for them.
Many other scientists at the Summit also exhibited classic denial characteristics, as did the “Fraser Sockeye Think Tank” convened in late 2009. The Think Tank advocated for more research to deal with the issues and suggested that overfishing was not the problem…
In meetings this past week, I listened to Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) deny that there are serious issues with early-timed Fraser Chinook. Their denial is further proven by the fact that DFO figures the run is healthy enough to support having sport fisheries open on the BC coast right now. If sport fisheries are open, DFO is implicitly suggesting that First Nation food, social, and ceremonial fisheries will be fulfilled — as the First Nation fisheries have priority due to Constitutional and legal obligations.
One has to wonder: why the denial? At the scientific and government levels?