Fraser sockeye: “Recovering losses” of the last three years?

I heard a report on this issue yesterday on CBC Radio and today The Globe and Mail is reporting:

Dry B.C. summer puts fish stocks in jeopardy, government warns

“It’s the heat that is actually more critical sometimes than the low flows,” Dr. Allen said. Salmon are a greater concern than other species of fish. “I don’ t want to say they’re picky, but it’s a very narrow range they’re comfortable in,” she said.

“We are on the edge of the temperature at which salmon can get into real trouble,” said John Reynolds, a professor of ecology at Simon Fraser. So far this year, salmon have been counted in numbers higher than originally forecasted – a positive sign, Dr. Reynolds said. But the lower, warmer rivers, especially the Fraser, may negatively offset those gains.

“Climate change is happening, and I’m afraid that the future of the Fraser is a much warmer one,” he said.

The upper and middle Fraser River areas are at Drought Level 2, and expected to stay that way for the rest of the summer unless significant rainfall occurs. The ministry website is urging “voluntary conservation, as well as planning at the local level using tools such as drought management plans.”

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Would this not suggest we should be putting as many darn salmon into BC’s rivers as possible and giving them the best odds of spawning as we can? — for example, Fraser River sockeye.

What are things going to look like in four years when this year’s sockeye progeny return to spawn?

I can hear the fisheries bureaucrat: “Well… gee…our models say…”

No, we really don’t know; however, based on the trend of increasing temperatures over the last couple of decades — chances are pretty damn good that salmon will be facing even hotter rivers.

What does this mean?

Good likelihood of lots more salmon, like Fraser sockeye, dieing en route.

What does that mean?

Gee, maybe this year we should probably just be a little more cautious.

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I can fully appreciate that commercial fisheries have not been opened on Fraser sockeye in three years — however, this is not like a copper mine where no matter what issues affect production (e.g. a three year labour strike), a company can still ramp up production and “recover losses”.

Yet, this is how many media outlets and others are talking about the “better than forecast” returns of sockeye this year. Something to the effect of “recovering losses of the last three years…”. (CBC article Sat. Aug. 7th)

No, no and no.

We are not “recovering losses” from the last three years. The fish just weren’t there to support fisheries.

And isn’t the #1 goal of “salmon management”: CONSERVATION?

If the number one goal of a copper mine was to “conserve” copper — then there might be an issue with the mentality of “recovering losses” (this time might come…). But no, a copper mine has the #1 goal of making profits for its shareholders.

It is this sort of “corporate” mentality surrounding fisheries that suggests when East Coast Cod recover (if ever) that commercial fisheries will start up and will hammer the ^*#@ out of them to try and “recover losses” of the last two decades…

Or, when sea otter populations recover to some higher level that we’ll try and “recover losses” of the last couple centuries…

Yeah, that’s brilliant…

One thought on “Fraser sockeye: “Recovering losses” of the last three years?

  1. kd

    looks like DFO is fully committed now…everything is open; sports,commercial, FN SFC and commercial.

    so much for conservation first and foremost…so much for any precaution around rising water temps…

    hope the DFO number cruncher model analysts are right this time…a major die-off from warm water could leave DFO with alot of egg on their faces….which is nothing new for DFO, but it would be bad for the fish.

    accountability is another good issue to examine with DFO: suppose a warm water die-off does occur and spawning requirements arent met…what happens? Is anyone fired…reprimanded…sent to the corner?? Absolutely nothing happens because the bureaucracy is too cumbersome to nail blame down… and fish management isnt an ‘exact science’ they will say…totally forgetting about that precautionary principle.
    kd
    kd

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