Saturday’s Globe and Mail had the following advertisement on page 2 of the B.C. section:
The accompanying website is here.
Recipe for Extinction
3 cups of Department of Fisheries & Oceans inaction.
1 cup of refusing to close marine sport fisheries impacting Fraser River early-timed Chinook.
1 cup of lowest amt of spawners since 1975 (in 2007, parents of this year’s run, less than 2000 Chinook returned).
1 cup of only 500 spawners the 2009 returns to Nicola River & tributaries (estimates suggest there needs to be 20,000 spawners to sustain any harvest).
1 cup of chasing the last fish…
Mix vigorously with lack of political will to protect habitat and enforce the Fisheries Act.
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Can’t say I disagree… this is a Recipe for Extinction. Here is a graph from a Department of Fisheries ‘death by PowerPoint’ presentation last year.
Chinook 4-2 refers to a group of Chinook stocks that spawn largely in the Thompson River, most in the Nicola River watershed. The “4” means these Chinook are 4 years old when they return. The small “2”, refers to how many years these fish spend in fresh water as juveniles.
The graph above shows the estimated exploitation rate of these Chinook (% of total estimated run size — this is the percentage on the right hand side) overlaid on the estimated survival of these Chinook (% of adults returning — this is the percentage on the left).
The boxes in the graph represent the survival rate. You can see that the survival rate is decent in the mid to late 1990s and then it becomes a train-wreck…
With the exception of 2004, the survival rate has generally been less than 1%.
But do you see a problem?
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That dark black line is the exploitation rate of these populations. In 1998, the rate is way down, somewhere around 20% — most likely due to the heavy coho protection that year (e.g. 0% Coho exploitation — 0% mortality).
But after that, the exploitation rate more than doubles. And in fact missing from this graph is 2009 — exploitation rate: 53%.
An almost tripling of exploitation rates in just over ten years.
But wait… do you see the survival rates?
They fell by 8 – 9 times.
So survival falls by multiples of 8 to 9… and exploitation rates triple…
…and this on populations that are already in deep trouble. Even DFO numbers suggest that this population needs at least 20,000 fish to sustain any exploitation… those sorts of numbers haven’t been seen in decades.
[This is also a good example of how you use graphs to skew data – the black line looks so innocuous in comparison to the boxes]
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Do you see the last bullet point circled in pencil?
Sustainable exploitation rates currently estimated at 8 – 11% range for low survival period; populations declining at current exploitation rates.
Worse yet, in 2007 — the parents of this year’s returns — were some of the lowest returns seen since the mid-1970s with less than 2000 spawners…
And yet… and yet… just like last year, marine sport fisheries for Chinook have been open 24-7.
Pre-season forecasts for Chinook 4-2s this year are brutal; and there won’t even be confirmation of approximate run sizes until the Albion test fishery starts this month. Meanwhile, coastal-marine sport fisheries have been open for months while these fish arrive from their ocean migration and head up to the Thompson River.
(First Nations on the Fraser voluntarily closed Chinook fisheries last year, and are again this year — even though DFO insists on keeping those fisheries open as well…)
Hmmm… I think maybe this is why it’s called a Recipe for Extinction.
The website has a “Take Action” page…
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