here’s the chorus: we just don’t know; we just don’t know…

A few days away camped on an isolated beach with family… and big surprise… the Fraser sockeye forecast has grown again, by another 5 million or so. We’re now pushing 30 million total returns into the Fraser.

In relation to DFO’s forecasting, this is higher than the 10% probability — 90p as DFO calls it… e.g. 90% probability that the run won’t be this size.

I can hear the post season meetings now:

DFO: “well… we kind of got it, our 10% guess was almost right”.

_ _ _ _

One thing is clear: DFO is public enemy #1 right now. From commercial fishers to a particular Conservative MP in Vancouver (I just find it so odd that Mr. Cummins Conservative MP for Delta area is a member of the governing federal party… maybe someone should send him a memo…)

The National Post has a curious article:

Salmon’s bittersweet return

Apparently the commercial industry is up in arms because the capacity to process sockeye is limited. Curious how no fishery in three years might do that. I can follow the ire directed towards DFO to a certain degree from the commercial sector… however, being ready for all possibilities is not the job of DFO. It seems a bit of wanting cake and eating it too when the commercial sector gets angry at DFO because of blown forecasts; however then also blames DFO for not having the capacity.

This seems parallel to me… with blaming the financial melt-down of the last few years on your financial advisor. It’s all their fault that my RRSP was halved in value and retirement just moved from 65 to 85…

No… it’s not the fault of the advisor… the meltdown was far beyond their control (unless of course they had you 100% in stocks — U.S. banking stocks at that…)

I do understand being frustrated about commercial openings and the like… but blaming the capacity — or lack of — of the industry. Well, no, sorry can’t buy that one.

If I ran my own business ventures completely dependent on, for example, weather forecasting (which is more accurate than salmon forecasting)… say, I was in the farming crops business… would it make sense to blame Environment Canada for not having the capacity to harvest a boon of wheat due to much-better-than-forecasted weather?

4 thoughts on “here’s the chorus: we just don’t know; we just don’t know…

  1. Priscilla Judd

    Hi there,
    I’ve been busy with a piano rebuild but I’m reading your great posts and I have received some interesting e-mails so I’ll pass on the info:
    Every year DFO blows up the beaver dams on the (Bessette where I live) and on the Shuswap River.

    Beaver and salmon have lived together for eons without the assistance of DFO! Blowing up dams is crazy because it leaves a big mud hole and kills the little fish that are in the river (there are fish in the river at all times) The dams create good spawning habitat – deep pools for cool water and resting ponds and Beavers make fish food too.

    Beaver stabilize the river banks because they plant trees (I kid you not) they bring in the willow sticks and plant them in the sand and come back a few years later, build a dam and cut down the grown trees for food. The dams prevent the weak salmon from coming in behind the strong ones and digging out the first nests and leaving their less strong genetic eggs in that bed.

    Beaver have a stakeholder claim on salmon rivers and DFO is their enemy. Who represents the Beaver at the Cohen Commission?

    great posts – thanks

  2. Brian


    It is true that DFO did engage in activities that involved blowing up beaverdams in the past. Some of this was likely done by the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commision long ago, but I am not sure. The goal (however misguided it is now) was to allow for fish passage. I was involved in quite a bit of stream clearance work (dam removal by hand not explosives) with the province 15 years or so ago. In retrospect, I see how this work was actually more of detriment to rainbow trout than a positive.

    However, DFO does not blow up beaverdams anymore. Nowadays, DFO works with concerned stakeholders by constructing passage through beaverdams (i.e. sort of like a culvert) without dismantling the dams. The fish get passage through the dame and the beaver has the water level needed to get in and out of their hut. What your “friend” could be seeing is from the province perhaps. Did your email friend try contacting the province? Did your email friend try contacting DFO to see if they were involved or are you just basing your opinion on what she is telling you? I know for a fact that your friend is wrong about DFO blowing up dams now because I actually found out by asking those responsible. Perhaps remind your email friend that if she is in doubt about what is going on in her neck of the woods she should try to at least contact someone from either the province or DFO and give them a chance to explain.

    I am not sure who is representing the beaver at the inquiry, but I am pretty sure you and your friend will represent the “misinformed” group well.

  3. salmon guy Post author

    dancing a bit on the edge with the comments… the hope here is to try and have some constructive discussion. Reading many of the comments on sites like Globe and Mail and other media sites gets a bit wearing with personal attacks. It’s often easier to type up comments that may very well not be said in person…

    I do agree with parts of the commentary… DFO has certainly stepped back from beaver dam removal (as far as I know) — especially after folks began realizing that beaver ponds make great coho rearing habitat. Where there are some challenges, are on places like Haida Gwaii (formerly referred to as Queen Charlotte Is.) where beaver is an introduced species (along with deer, squirrels, some frogs, rats, racoons, and others). I am familiar with DFO hiring folks to go in and trap the beavers and allowing the dams to come apart on their own…

    and they may very well have some sort of removal program going in that area. would be curious to hear.

    One would hope that when the Wild Salmon Policy purports to institute “ecosystem-based management” that it would recognize that beavers are a pretty key component of salmon ecosystems in some areas.

    I hope the use of fancy verbiage in various DFO management papers and policies is something that does come out of the Cohen Commission — however, as mentioned, I’m not holding my breath on a ground breaking report from the Commission — yet, I’m sure hopeful…

  4. Priscilla Judd

    Gee I feel so old Brian – “long ago” is within my personal memory – I know that the beaver dam that was on the river through our family property this spring was moved to the edge of the river by someone (no evidence of blasting) and that my e-mail friend complains that beaver dams are destroyed when they leave their property unattended (I presume the dams are pulled apart since you say that DFO doesn’t blast them anymore) and yes the Province and DFO have received notes of concern from that family. I’ll be going there this fall to see their river and I’ll be posting what I see on my blog. .

    I received the blasting comment to add to my list of unsustainable practices and pollution in the Rivers where I live (for the Cohen Commission) – I am glad to hear they are not blasting anymore.

    One odd memory about blasting is that when we had a HUGE log jam – a mountain of wood, junk, garbage and other unsanitary flotsom – dead sheep etc. DFO wouldn’t blast it – so go figure – that year, they blew up the beaver dam and left the jam (even after we asked for help) my brother dismantled the logs by hand – it was probobly the best thing that could have happened – none of us were that conscious of the impact humans have on salmon habitat.
    Thanks for this blog and the great comments – I am learning so much.

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