‘everything I need to know about fisheries management I learned in Kindergarten’

Mark Hume reports today in the Globe and Mail:

Funding for test fisheries to expire

There is no funding agreement in place to continue test fisheries on the West Coast, a key program that allows managers to calculate how many salmon are returning to the Fraser River each year, a federal judicial inquiry has learned.

Jim Cave, head of stock monitoring for the Pacific Salmon Commission, and Paul Ryall, a senior Department of Fisheries and Oceans official, both testified Monday that test fishing is crucial in providing stock estimates, so managers can determine how many fish can be caught.

But the two officials told the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River that a five-year funding program for test fishing is coming to an end this year, and it’s not clear yet how test fishing will be paid for after it expires.

“I’m not aware there’s an agreed-upon solution,” said Mr. Ryall, in response to questions from Wendy Baker, associate counsel for the commission headed by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen.

Mr. Ryall, who was head of DFO’s salmon team until becoming co-ordinator of his department’s involvement with the Cohen commission, said funding for test fishing became a problem after the Federal Court ruled, in 2006, that the government could not finance any activities by granting a licence to fish, then selling the catch.

Until that ruling, DFO had financed test fisheries by allowing the contractor to sell the fish or crabs that were taken in the tests. Across Canada, DFO spends about $12-million annually doing test fisheries, with half of that spent on the Pacific Coast.

In the wake of the Federal Court ruling, DFO approved a five-year funding program to cover the cost of test fisheries while a long-term solution was worked out.

Mr. Ryall said one proposal called for the Fisheries Act to be amended, so that paying for test fishing with the proceeds of the catch would be legal. But the legislative changes suggested were never made. Nor did a proposal to have industry pick up the costs come to fruition.

“This will be the last year [of funding]. … I don’t know what options are contemplated at this point,” Mr. Ryall said.

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Hmmm…

There’s a rather terse response in one of the few comments to the online article:

geez, DFO only had 5 years to figure something out!?….that’s not nearly enough time for thousands of bureaucrats to come to any decision…

DFO couldn’t manage its way out of a wet paper bag….embarrassing and calls for a complete overhaul of this bankrupt ( morally, fiscally, etc etc) department

I’m not generally one for such a comment… but… really… Is the comment all that far off?

Five years and no one of the 70+ DFO staff listed on annual Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMPs), and other 100+ in other departments within the Department were unable to see this coming?

The article continues:

The data collected in the test fisheries is compared with the results that have been gathered on similar tests over the past 50 years, the size of the salmon run is estimated, and commercial catch limits are set. As the salmon run approaches the river, more data is gathered and catch limits can be adjusted in-season.

“Without that information we don’t have the information to manage the fisheries,” Mr. Ryall said. “We need those test fisheries to properly manage.”

_ _ _ _ _ _

Say that again…

“Without that information we don’t have the information to manage the fisheries,” Mr. Ryall said. “We need those test fisheries to properly manage.”

Oh, that’s what I thought you said… “we need those test fisheries to properly manage…” and in five years no one has devised a $6 million solution to the problem?

What is this… “everything I need to know about fisheries management I learned in Kindergarten”?

…”I don’t know what options are contemplated at this point,” Mr. Ryall said.

Five years… no contemplated options… wow.

_ _ _ _ _

Parallel link to this story… consider the post from the other day: wow, shocking… Commission extension & DFO fighting court cases rather than protecting salmon.

In that post I outlined how DFO lost a court challenge with a decision handed down in mid-Dec. 2010.

In that decision Justice Russell declared that:

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans erred in law in determining that the critical habitat of the Resident Killer Whales was already legally protected by existing laws of Canada;

… Ministerial discretion does not legally protect critical habitat within the meaning of section 58 of SARA [Species At Risk Act], and it was unlawful for the Minister to have cited discretionary provisions of the Fisheries Act in the Protection Statement.

In essence, DFO is failing in protecting critical food (Fraser Chinook salmon) for endangered orcas in the Salish Sea. The judge was pretty clear — DFO made errors and better clean up their act (sort of like the Aquaculture decision).

But now… DFO is actually going to appeal the orca decision. Rather than actually protect an endangered species, and act now, they would rather mount more legal action — costing what?

There was also in that same post, an explanation of how the Cohen Commission has been granted an approximately one year extension and another $11 million. And DFO actually has dedicated senior managers strictly tasked with managing the Cohen Commission process [Ryall quote above]. What’s this cost?

If someone can’t come up with a funding plan in five years for something (test fisheries) that is apparently central to fisheries management — then what the hell are they doing over there in the hallowed halls of the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans?

I recognize unwieldy, ineffective, bureaucratic behemoths are an easy target… but come on… can someone figure this one out?

3 thoughts on “‘everything I need to know about fisheries management I learned in Kindergarten’

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