I’m not sure if I’ve come across better language that may point to some of the problems. The following quotes are from a senior fisheries researcher within Fisheries and Oceans from a recent conference on the nutrients that salmon bring to the river environment.
And as I’ve pointed out before, I do not mean to disrespect, simply highlight where I think there are serious issues with language (emphasis is mine) that tends to fog out reality:
Full implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy will require that we design experimental systems that allow us to quantify the impacts of sectoral activities on ecosystem integrity in the regions where they operate. WSP implementation also requires DFO to become more responsive to dealing with the ecosystem account end of the ledger in terms of fisheries management because we are signatories to both national and international agreements that obligate us to develop an ecosystem approach to fisheries management.
I have started to do a lot more investigation into where the language of ‘management’, ‘economics’ and ‘accounting’ started to infiltrate agencies responsible for looking after natural resources. The fact that there are senior bureaucrats that talk about how we look after salmon in language from ‘accounting’ – is concerning.
And maybe we should look after salmon better because it’s the right thing to do instead of “because we are signatories” (but then maybe I’m just being too picky on language…)
Or, in talking about natural systems in mechanized terms – same DFO researcher, same discussion:
bears function almost like a squad of “front-end loaders”
In reference to the number of salmon that bears move from stream to the forest. Those salmon operate on the same principle that has us apply fish meal and fertilizer to gardens, lawns and farms – they are fertilizer for plants (as well as food for scavengers). Sometimes analogiess are helpful to make points – but bears as front-end loaders….
And here’s the conclusion to the discussion:
We need to do quite a bit more research. … instead of just following the signature of marine derived nutrients and whether or not MDNs can be found on landscapes or in critters, we really need to create salmon-mediated, energy and nutrient flux models to show quantitatively what the impact of salmon returns are on the integrity (ecological structure and function) of whole communities of organisms.
Once created, such models will allow us to compare the importance of nutrient and energy delivery functions of salmon relative to the alternative pathways by which nutrients and energy may be satisfied for whole communities. It will be a non-trivial challenge for fisheries science to provide a clear perspective that allows meaningful headway in specifying salmon management practices to achieve a better balance of ecosystem values for future generations.
Thank ghad, someone actually used critters in a scientific forum – however, eghad at the rest of the language.
No, no, and no.
We cannot create “models” that are going to predict “whole communities of organisms”. There is a reason that population dynamics are components of chaos theory. There is absolutely no way to predict, measure, or identify all factors that affect one population – let alone an entire fricking community of organisms.
A little over a hundred years ago – say one hundred and fifty – salmon had been doing just fine “managing” themselves for some 2 million+ years. In the last 10,000 – 50,000 years (hot debate among archaeologists) around the Pacific Rim, salmon and humans have done quite well. Oddly enough, in the last 70-90 years – through most of their historical range – wild salmon runs have declined by 90% in many areas.
More models, more equations, and more computer simulations are not going to bring wild salmon runs back to their historic sizes or even to significant fractions of their historic sizes. Waiting until we create more models, more equation, more computer models, and conduct more research is also not going to do anything in the meantime.
For government, politicians, and scientists to suggest we should wait longer for that alchemical equation, model, or computer simulation that will change salmon into gold is about as irresponsible as it comes.
The bottom line…
- if you systematically kill 80% of a population of anything over a period of several decades and expect 20% to produce the same size population in perpetuity (the practice of Maximum Sustainable Yield),
- then dam, urbanize, log, mine, and pollute the habitat that is essential for re-creation –
- then throw in some ‘natural’ negative oceanic changes,
- throw in a little more killing of major food sources (i.e. herring and other feed fish),
- throw a bunch of fish farms on migration routes,
- and what the hell, throw ins some massive (capital intensive) hatcheries that pump out genetically inferior populations.
– And what do you get?
hmmm, I think I can safely say: no need to put this in PowerPoint and no need to send this to the rocket scientists at NASA.