filter or no filter?

Here’s a special chart from the Pacific Salmon Commission that is included in the Proceedings completed by Simon Fraser University staff of the Summit on Fraser River Sockeye Salmon: Understanding Stock Declines and Prospects for the Future. A Public Dialogue held in late March 2010.

The bigger the orange dot the worse the productivity of those particular stocks… growing small to big orange means productivity heading to the basement. Green means good. One stock (Harrison River in the lower Fraser River near Vancouver).

Page 60 of SFU Proceedings for better visibility

Salmon Think Tank graph produced by Pacific Salmon Commission Chief Biologist

Combine this information with the graph from the post on Saturday of overall Fraser River productivity suggesting that Fraser sockeye are having a difficult time simply replacing themselves.

In relation to the chart above (Kalmann filters):

The first line/group is the Early Stuart of which the only fish harvested this year were for test fisheries to estimate run sizes and some incidental catch in First Nation Chinook fisheries.

The second group of eight stocks is the “Early Summers” (lots of orange – declining productivity) — DFO proposes to harvest 25% of the total returns of that group, even though there are some specific stocks within that “group” that are destined for extinction (e.g. Bowron River).

The “Summers” are the next group of four stocks. You know, the ones with orange dots so big and bright that you stop on a light this color even if you’re driving in Vancouver. This “group” includes some of the mid-Fraser big runs: Chilko (west of Williams Lake), and the famed Quesnel River runs (Horsefly and Quesnel Lakes) and two far upper river stocks on the Nechako drainage.

DFO is proposing to harvest 60% of the total run on this “group”. This includes the Nechako stocks of the Nadina River and Stuart River (the far, far upper watershed) — the same Nechako where Alcan is permitted to draw off about 5% of total flows of Fraser so they can produce power and what not — even in times of lower flows and higher temperatures.

The last group is the “Late Summers” which includes the famed Adams River run (L. Shuswap on chart). Note that this year, that run is forecast to return at huge numbers, as high as 7 million — which is about 60% of the total Fraser sockeye run predicted this year.

Yet, this run is highly, highly susceptible to hot water temps in the rivers. Temperatures approaching 20 degrees C are absolutely lethal for these fish. Forecasts for the time being on the Fraser suggest we could be approaching 20+ degrees next week — and that’s on the lower Fraser — what’s the forecast on the Thompson River where these sockeye need to migrate?

Similar to what I asked the other day — how do you spell precautionary?

If you have a total reproductive population of anything forecast to return at between 7 – 11 million (this year’s pre-season forecasts of Fraser sockeye) and one stock (Adams – Lake Shuswap) is forecast to be anywhere between 60% – 80% of that total run, and you know that high river temperatures are lethal for this particular stock, and that high river temps means increased disease outbreak, and that the other significant component of this “total population” (the “Summer” group – only four stocks) is going to comprise another 15-25% of the total reproductive population size — and that these fish have to migrate and spawn in the major forest fire zones of the Province right now.

fire retardant = biological retardant

(you know all that red stuff that they drop on forest fires… ummm yeah… oxygen inhibitor, uhhh fire retardant… it’s not very friendly to biological critters… plus last time I checked those little slits near the head of a fish.. oh right… gills; they process oxygen…)

Ahhh, don’t worry about that stuff.

Hot water, agricultural draw down, fire retardant, water draw down to fight fires, more hot weather in the forecast, and a decent wall of nets and hooks stretching from north-central Vancouver Island (east and west coast) to the mouth of the Fraser, and now a curtain of hooks “flossing” sockeye as they enter the river (open sport fishery)… more nets and ‘test fisheries’ upstream.

Would you maybe adopt a “precautionary approach” that is pretty damn precautionary?

_ _ _ _

It’s not that I subscribe to some 2012 world is ending, cynical, salmon are on their way to extinction program… It’s more that… why can’t we give them a small chance of actually recovering to historical levels? And not even that… as historical levels doesn’t recognize that the human population is significantly higher now than it was say 50 years ago when DFO considers their data “accurate”.

Plus historical levels didn’t need to compete against the exponentially-more challenges that salmon face in the Fraser River watershed now. For example, how much more shit (in a literal sense) do both baby sockeye and adult sockeye need to migrate through in the lower Fraser and Salish Sea (Georgia Strait)? And what about all that lovely stuff in shit these days: prozac, cialis, viagara, and every other designer prescription. (at least they will be happy sockeye with healthy erections…right?)

If productivity is so low, shouldn’t we be letting every fish possible get on to the spawning grounds and getting as bloody creative as possible on how we deal with the social and economic implications of tough choices?

If Fraser River sockeye productivity was averaging around 6 adult returns per spawner over the last fifty years or so (as graph above suggests) and is now about 1 adult returning per spawner (e.g. a shrinking population, as any population requires two adults reaching maturity per reproductive adult – e.g. one male and one female in an ideal world) — shouldn’t we be letting every fish possible reach the spawning grounds?

Maybe the issue is the filters that fish managers are looking through these days… it’s the same filters as say… 15 years ago, or 20 years ago. Why change, we’ve always done it this way?

“And look at the changes we’ve made, we now target harvesting 60% of runs instead of 80%” (quote from sr. DFO fisheries manager at pre-season meetings this year).

Time for a new filter to gaze through?

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