some big decisions today on Fraser sockeye?

There may be some big decisions today on the morning conference call of the Pacific Salmon Commission. The Fraser River sockeye “Early Summer” group may get a further upgrade in the in-season run size forecast (still an elaborate estimate). If this happens, then more commercial fisheries at the mouth could open to hit these fish.

At this point in time, DFO estimates they have caught 25-30% of the Early Summer run already (approx. 400,000 sockeye). The goal for the year was 25% to protect some stocks within the group.

Fraser River temps are forecast to go above 20 degrees C this coming week and may even peak out at over 21 degrees C. This is deadly for migrating sockeye. But now, of course, lots of folks are “questioning” the models for the river forecasts — however, at the same time weather forecasts are calling for temps peaking at 32 degrees C around Prince George in coming days. I don’t even want to know what this means for places like Kamloops and the Fraser Canyon…

At these temps – the Management Adjustments (MA) – which is a percentage of ‘protection’ given to stock groups (e.g. Early Summers, Summers, etc.)  to protect their migration could reach 100%. On the Early Summers it currently sits at about 84%. If the MA goes to 100% (1.0) then no more fishing for Early Summers as every fish needs to get a chance at swimming upstream.

So if the in-season forecast jumps today, that means the 25% allotted catch on Early Summers will also go up. For example if the run size forecast goes from 1.6 million to 2.0 million this potentially means 25% x 400,000 = 100,000  could be available for catch. But then, if the MA goes up to 1.0 (100%) none of these are available for catch.

100,000 sockeye at say $0.90 to $1.00 per pound (little over $1/lb in Alaska this year) — maybe say an average of 5 lb fish. Let’s say approx. $5 per sockeye then. That’s in the neighborhood of $500,000 of gross revenues to fisherfolks. Add in the value-added processes… etc. etc.

And what we have is a classic debate this morning — between fisheries managers — of economic returns  or environmental returns  — in a literal sense.

($$) vs. (precautionary approach)

Who do you think will win?

5 thoughts on “some big decisions today on Fraser sockeye?

  1. priscilla judd

    First Nations have asked Judge Cohen to make a ruling that First Nations manage salmon or at least share the management of salmon with DFO since by law First Nations are the first in right to salmon. I hope this happens so that DFO can’t take over the allocation of fish that are managed by First Nations as in the South Okanagan..

    Sadly – dead salmon last week in the Shuswap River.

  2. kd

    As bad as DFO has been at managing salmon I dont think we need another layer of bureaucracy clouding the picture….FN’s are no different than anyone else…they are not magical conservation gurus…We need clarity in salmon management not more complexity.
    There is a bit of hypocrisy in the Okanagan situation as the FN’s criticize a sport opening as premature for the run…..Yet they are more than willing to have both a food fishery and a commercial fishery on the first good return….
    Their criticism of DFO not consulting is sort of valid, but they dont formally manage or even co-manage this fishery….letting them know beforehand might have been a courtesy…But since commercial/sport oare supposed to be manged equally by DFO there is nothing they can do about it.

  3. priscilla judd

    Hello Kd,
    I hope you can read the Cohen Commission testimony that’s posted on their website. First Nations have the first legal right to fish – for food, for ceremony, and for selling. That’s in our Constitution – that’s the law in Canada. DFO is allocating fish that belongs to someone else. How would it be a “courtesy” to inform them? “Oh by the way, we’ve let the sport fishers have the first go at your fish – hope you don’t mind.”

    DFO manages fish that First Nations have a lien on and that deserves consultation on every aspect of Fish Management. DFO is acting beyond it’s Constitutional jurisdiction.

    Why would First Nations people not criticize a sport opening as premature for the run? That is their fish DFO is giving away – that fish is for First Nations to eat, to celebrate and sell. Why would they not be willing to have both a food fishery and a commercial fishery on the first good return? However, if DFO gives the fish away first, DFO profits and First Nations don’t.

    Sport fishing has no Constitutional first right to fish in Canada.

    First Nations do not need to be “conservation gurus” they have a bigger stake in the management of fish than DFO. Fish are the culture of First Nation’s people. It’s not in their interest to see any fish stock extinction. You can’t compare the two. If fish become extinct, DFO management will just move to another department – they have no cultural ties to fish – not so with First Nations.

    For Canada and DFO, wild fish are a problem. DFO supports fish farms and Mr.Harper wants a corporate economy. With extinct fish (like the cod) it’s on with Mr.Harper’s economic action plans: oil: off shore drilling, tar sands and pipelines, sour gas, polluted water from resource extraction, logging, hydro dams, mining and feed lot agriculture.

    First Nations do not need to be Gurus. In their rightful place, managing the fish stocks, including commercial fishing as they should – they will not let the fish go extinct. Commercial fishing will flourish and stocks will multiply because First Nations will license what fishing can be supported. That is how it should be whether you or me or anyone else likes the new bureaucracy or not.

    When it comes to fish – “we” (Canada or British Columbia) don’t “need” anything except fish in the water – fish that feed the bears, the birds and the forest that grew this land (and a government that obeys the law). “We” have little right to any thing more since “we” are responsible for the demise of an ecosystem that was managed by First Nations for centuries. An ecosystem that spawned many millions of fish every year. Fish that Canada has tried to take from First Nations in every conceivable way.

    It’s time to look at things from a reasoned perspective.

  4. kd

    “…Why would First Nations people not criticize a sport opening as premature for the run? That is their fish DFO is giving away – that fish is for First Nations to eat, to celebrate and sell. Why would they not be willing to have both a food fishery and a commercial fishery on the first good return?…”

    I think the fish belong to mother nature first, then to the Crown who manages it according to a hierarchy of access. The fish do not ‘belong’ to FN’s. FN’s do not have an automatic right to sell fish….Commercial fishing is outside of SFC rights.
    Plus, the sport opening came well after the SFC fishing began and after the commercial openings…so sportfishermen didnt get the fish first as you assert.
    I’m not totally familiar with the setup down there but I dont think there is any formal co-management agreement in place is there?

    And as I mentioned, in that management hierarchy sport/commercial as supposed to be managed equally. That means if there is a commercial opening then there is enough for a sport opening or vice versa.

    I just thought it looked a little hypocritical for FN’s to criticise a recreational opening, which might take very few fish, as premature on a rebuilding run….when they are loading up with SFC fishing and a 5000 fish commercial fishery. Obviously the return is ok to support this effort why not another few hundred in a sportfishery?

  5. Priscilla Judd

    Hi there,
    I just read the last few blog posts and Salmon Guy seems to have blogged about what I was trying to say however, I’ll post it for you kd because the lawyer at the commission said it better than I could:

    Submissions on behalf of The Stó:lo Tribal Council
    and Cheam Indian Band page 95 and 95

    The Stó:lo Tribal Council and the Cheam people hold inherent title and rights over their traditional territories, which flow from their connection to their land and water. These rights are enshrined in indigenous languages, laws and protocols. They are recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada as sui generis rights and legal systems, protected under section 35 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that there is an economic and jurisdictional dimension to Aboriginal title, which therefore has to be taken into account when dealing with fisheries management decisions in the traditional territories of Aboriginal peoples.

    In terms of the Aboriginal right to fish… Aboriginal peoples have the right to be the first to access fish before commercial and recreational fishers. There is an economic dimension to this right. But, more importantly, there is also an indigenous dimension to conservation. Indigenous peoples share in the jurisdiction in regard to conservation, and DFO cannot claim exclusive jurisdiction over conservation and management of the fisheries, and thereby exclude indigenous peoples from the management of the resource that is so central to their survival and culture.

    Indigenous peoples… hold one of the keys to saving the Fraser River sockeye stocks. Traditional indigenous knowledge constitutes the longest term knowledge about the Fraser River sockeye runs, and the marine and river ecosystems that sustain them. Research has shown that there is a strong correlation and overlap between biodiversity and cultural and linguistic …interaction with ecosystems and different species is actually enhanced by diversity…

    Multilateral [legal] environmental agreements recognize indigenous knowledge as a key tool for sustainable development. Indigenous traditional knowledge is treated on equal footing with scientific knowledge, and indigenous peoples participate independent of governments [and on equal footing with governments] in many processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. …there is… recognition of [Canadian] constitutional protection for a food fishery and ..that food fishery has priority over all other non-conservation uses, [however,] DFO routinely infringe that right.

    …DFO commonly allow[s] the commercial fishery and …the… very significant recreational fishery to proceed when the Stó:lo’s food and social and ceremonial rights are unfulfilled. DFO… does not respect and accommodate Aboriginal title and rights. DFO does not allow for meaningful participation of Aboriginal Peoples in the management of the fishery, nor does DFO incorporate traditional knowledge of the sockeye that Aboriginal Peoples have gained over thousands of years, instead, DFO relies on science and modeling that is often criticized as weak and outdated. …the Stó:lo have witnessed DFO preside over a precipitous decline in Fraser River sockeye and it is no wonder that the Stó:lo and I believe other Aboriginal Peoples view DFO’s management of the fishery as lacking in effectiveness, in credibility and in legitimacy.

    …the Commission needs to investigate the failure of DFO to respect and accommodate Aboriginal title and rights in respect of Fraser sockeye. But what is more pressing… is… the possibilities for a more effective management model than DFO’s command and control approach. This Commission needs to consider the benefits of a truly cooperative management of the Fraser.

    thanks for the discussion.

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