More salmon bycatch… on BC Northwest Coast… maybe should talk to folks on the Yukon River…

Press release today from three organizations: Skeena Wild, Raincoast, and Watershed Watch.

August 19, 2013 12:07 ET

Conservation Groups Say Federal Investigation is Scapegoating Fishermen

“DFO and Pattison Group throwing a few fishermen under the bus won’t fix systemic problems”

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – Aug. 19, 2013) - The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has announced they are investigating the fishermen shown in a controversial video released last week that documents serious violations of fishing regulations and no enforcement in this year’s largest Canadian salmon fishery. DFO has asked SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, and Raincoast Conservation Foundation to hand over their raw footage, taken in the Area 6 seine fishery west of Kitimat, BC. But the groups say that the federal government and companies like the Jim Pattison Group are serving the fishermen up as scapegoats so that they don’t have to sit down with the conservationists and fishermen to identify real, lasting solutions.

Fisheries targeting abundant pink salmon runs on BC’s north coast are required to return chum, sockeye, and other salmon species back to the water “with the least possible harm” because of concerns for their very low abundance across large sections of the coast. The video shows fishermen handling the prohibited species in such a manner that they are being discarded dead or nearly dead. At least 167,000 salmon from prohibited species have been discarded in north coast salmon fisheries so far this year, and another 24,000 have been discovered dead at processing plants.

“DFO and the big processors have set these guys up to take the fall,” said Greg Taylor, a former fishing company executive, now with SkeenaWild. “It’s just plain wrong. Our objective in releasing the video was to improve the fishery so that future generations have some salmon left, not punish a bunch of hard working guys who are working for Jimmy Pattison. I don’t know how Minister Shea and Mr. Pattison will be able to sleep at night if they go through with this.”

The Pattison Group owns the Ocean’s and Gold Seal brands of canned salmon, controls the largest portion of the seine fleet, and is BC’s dominant salmon processor.

“Having a few fishermen charged, and their lives disrupted because they happened to be the first ones in line when we showed up with our camera is not going to fix the broken management system that let this fishery get so far out of control,” said Aaron Hill, an ecologist with Watershed Watch. “All three of the boats we filmed mishandled fish, and now DFO and the Jim Pattison Group are trying to paint them as ‘just a few bad actors’? It’s outrageous. The practices we exposed are commonplace in the fleet, but the fishermen are the solution; DFO and companies like the Pattison Group are the problem,” concluded Hill.

“They’ve asked us for our raw footage, and we’ll provide it,” said Greg Knox, executive director of SkeenaWild. “But if anyone should be taking the fall here, it’s the Fisheries Minister, top bureaucrats, and fishing company executives who have ignored these problems for decades, not the people working to feed their families under a broken system that rewards bad behavior.”

Fraser River sockeye forecast is blown… Again. And river temps at record highs.

Salmon management Denial Train

Salmon management Denial Train

Yesterday the Pacific Salmon Commission confirmed what many figured would probably be the case in the first place… the forecasts for Fraser Sockeye were blown… AGAIN.

Yet, the Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans and PSC will carry on about how predictions are a tough business, etc. etc. And that if we look closely at the end of the season that the returning numbers of Fraser sockeye to the mouth were actually in their 25% probability range.

Here’s the newly adopted in-season run predictions for Fraser sockeye from the PSC’s Friday news release:

in-season Fraser sockeye run size predictions ala Pacific Salmon Commission

in-season Fraser sockeye run size predictions ala Pacific Salmon Commission

The real blown part of the ‘forecast’ is in the Summer runs grouping - Again (the ‘groupings still a problem in themselves). Appears that things were missed by close to half (circled in dark blue near the middle of image). The overall result is a difference of pre-season prediction of close to 5 million (circled in orange) and a current in-season estimate of just over 2.6 million (circled in red). However, we still don’t have an in-season estimate on late summers, which are going to be hooped if river temps stay anywhere near where they are. Chances are good as the temps in the lower Fraser have been climbing steadily all week.

Here’s the PSC narrative on that:

Record Fraser River temperatures. Aug. 9, 2013.

Record Fraser River temperatures. Aug. 9, 2013.

The “management adjustment” is the WFU factor.

(We F’ed Up and now our ‘management’ kicks in – factor).

The best part of all this is the language that the PSC uses to try and explain themselves out of this:

Fraser sockeye PSC languageTthe stocks have “experienced below average total productivity relative to the historical”… Hmmm.

Wasn’t this the year of the return of the 2009 Fraser sockeye run that was the lowest ever on record and was a completely blown forecast from 10 million predicted by the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans in the pre-season?

Wasn’t this the progeny of the 2009 run that motivated the unprecedented some-$26 million judicial inquiry – the Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser sockeye? (which remains unimplemented).

Not to mention that it seems fisheries managers are suffering from a classic philosophical problem – the problem of induction. Old English philosopher Bertrand Russell explained it well in the early 1900s – basically calling it the turkey problem.

See the turkey, a few days before Thanksgiving, sees the farmer walking across the farmyard carrying a unique glittering thing. The turkey figures, “oh whatever, our beloved farmer is just coming to feed us, like she has for the last 500 or so days.”

The turkey suffers from the classic problem of induction… because that day figuring all will be like history has suggested: e.g., farmer arrives, I get fed. Unfortunately, it has suffered from a classic error. As not long after this thought that its feeding time (again), like every day in turkey memory before that… it loses its head. And off to market and some happy family dinner table.

Russell used the example that classic human folly suggests we believe the sun will rise tomorrow just like it has for the last however long – yet… there is a chance that it won’t. But we continue to believe in the “historical time series”… That will do us little good the day that the sun does not rise in the way that it has for the last several millenniums. The Black Swan event, as some call it.

The problem with this thinking is that the historical time series is only part of reality – however fisheries managers put an immense amount of stock in it… and then get burned, like they are this year (again), and come out looking like turkeys, or at least being painted with that bad feather brush.

Time for things to change – as the Skeena and Fraser Rivers and many others… have been warning for quite some time.

 

The year of the Skeena River sockeye crash: 2013.

include Skeena sockeye in this one

Seems it’s now the Skeena River’s turn to experience a sockeye crash. Pre-season predictions suggested somewhere between 600,000 – 800,000 sockeye. Current in-season estimates are now just over 400,000 and all targeted fisheries on sockeye have been closed – including First Nations.

Here’s an idea… let’s launch another multi-million dollar judicial inquiry that results in hundreds of recommendations that never get implemented…

Category(s): ABORIGINAL – General Information
Subject: FN0702-ABORIGINAL- General Information- Area 3 to 5- Skeena sockeye retention and gillnets prohibited in First Nations Food, Social and Ceremonial Fisheries

Returns of sockeye to the Skeena River continue to be at extremely low levels.
As of today, the mid-point run estimate is in the low 400,000 range.  First
Nations that harvest Skeena sockeye have been consulted and agree that this
return size is a conservation concern. 

Therefore, starting at 00:01 hours Tuesday August 6, 2013, the following
measures will be in place:

1. For Area 4, Area 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-10, and 5-11, and Area 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, and
3-4:

-Retention of sockeye will not be permitted;
-Use of gillnets will not be permitted;
-Fishing for other species using gear types other than gillnet will
continue to be permitted, in accordance with communal licences.

2. For the Skeena River from the Area 4 commercial boundary (Mowitch Point to
Vetch Point) to the confluence with the Babine River and up to the Babine weir:

-Retention of sockeye will not be permitted;
-Use of gillnets will not be permitted;
-Fishing for other species using gear types other than gillnet will
continue to be permitted, in accordance with communal licences.

3. For the Babine weir and Babine Lake:

-The Babine weir will be closed for large sockeye harvesting;
-Only jack sockeye will be harvested at the Babine weir;
-Large sockeye will be harvested in Babine Lake;
-Fishing for other species will continue to be permitted, in
accordance with communal licences.

Another blown Fraser salmon forecast… runs “lower than expected”…

chinook circle black

Seems like another year of blown Fraser sockeye forecasts… maybe it’s not the runs that are ‘lower than expected’ and more that we can expect most forecasts to be higher than the runs expected?

News Release from the Pacific Salmon Commission today – below. Not only was the forecast wrong, the Fraser River is smoking hot – over 20 degrees Celsius (water temperature that is). With current weather forecasts and low flows, don’t imagine this will be getting any better any time soon.

And yet, the $26 million recommendations from Cohen Commission have disappeared like a PMO Chief of Staff…

Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The Fraser River Panel met Tuesday, August 6 to receive an update on the migration of Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon and review the status of migration conditions in the Fraser River watershed.
Although the migration of Fraser sockeye through the marine approach routes to the Fraser River has increased in recent days, it is still considerably lower than expected. This is primarily due to the lower than expected migration of Summer-run through the marine approach routes to-date. At the meeting today, the Panel approved an increase in the run size estimate for Early Summer-run sockeye from 400,000 to 452,000 fish. Their 50% migration timing through Area 20 is estimated to be July 22, which is one day earlier than expected. Current assessments suggest that the abundance of Summer-run sockeye is either lower than forecast or their migration timing is much later than expected. An in-season assessment of Summer-run sockeye abundance should be available by later this week.

The proportion of Late-run sockeye migrating through the marine assessment areas has increased over recent days.

DNA analyses continue to indicate that Fraser River pink salmon currently comprise a small proportion of the pink salmon presently being harvested in marine area test fisheries, which is consistent with the later marine timing of Fraser pinks relative to Washington and Canada South Coast (non-Fraser) pink salmon stocks.
On August 5, the Fraser River water discharge at Hope was 3,150 cms, which is approximately 26% lower than average for this date. The temperature of the Fraser River at Qualark Creek on August 5 was 20.5 degrees C, which is 2.8 degrees C higher than average for this date. Sustained exposure of sockeye to Fraser River water temperatures in this range may cause high pre-spawning mortality.

Doesn’t sound or look or feel like things will be improving for Fraser sockeye any time soon. Good thing taxpayers flipped a $26 million bill for a thousands of hours of lawyers, ‘biologists’ and a judge’s time…

And those that care about salmon… most definitely do not want to hear about Fraser Chinook this year… (some of the worst numbers on record in ‘test fisheries’ and yet some sport fisheries remain open for them… go figure…)

Probability means what?

"Friendliest Catch" (as in 'not')

“Friendliest Catch” (as in ‘not’)

Probability: “The quality or condition of being probable; likelihood.”

Probable: “Likely to happen or to be true.

These are a few definitions fronted by the Free Online Dictionary.

Generally, most of us use probable to suggest that this event, or that event: is probable. However, in fisheries ‘management’ on the West Coast of North America – and specifically salmon management – we now use probable in the opposite way. We now say that certain ‘forecast’ numbers are ‘probable’ to not occur.

Here’s an excerpt from the latest Pacific Salmon Commission news releases regarding Fraser Sockeye:

'probability' management

‘probability’ management

Thus, the suggestion is that there is a 75% probability that the run will not be at the 8.595 million level, and will in fact be below that.

So here’s a great way to make predictions sound fantastic “there is 100% probability that the Fraser Sockeye run will be at or below 40 million”. Say that every year and then down the road it sounds like you’ve been right every time.

Here’s my suggested new ‘financial’ management language:

new 'financial management' language

new ‘financial management’ language

However, this is my favorite quote from the news release, and hence the cartoon above:

low impact fisheries

“low impact fisheries”

Last time I checked… a dead fish is… well… a dead fish.

Won’t be long until we have ‘probability’ forecasts for ‘impacts’ of fisheries. And, yet, the great irony in all of this is that the ‘management’ actions only continue to grow as the ‘available’ catch shrinks. The classic human folly in natural systems…

The more we learn… the more we learn we don’t know. The more we don’t know… the more we figure we need to know, and thus “gentlemen, start your research engines…” – (rinse and repeat if necessary).

When it comes to most fisheries worldwide – as the allowable catch shrinks… the ‘research’ agenda, and ‘management actions’ grow. (rinse and repeat if necessary).

the more we learn

The Salmon Cycle… Reviews, inquiries, reports.

salmon Inquiry cycle

salmon Inquiry cycle

Twenty + years or so of salmon reviews, inquiries and reports…

The last one – the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River – led by Justice Bruce Cohen, at a price tag of some $26 million.

26 Million Dollars.

$26 Million of cycling reports, recommendations, outcries And pay cheques for researchers, consultants, communications experts, lawyers, and so on…

And so on…

And so on…

Ad infinitum…

Ad nauseum…

Rinse and repeat if necessary.

And many of these… one species of salmon… on one river. A big one mind you (The Fraser River), but still one and one.

And number of Recommendations implemented from the Cohen Commission?

Zero. Zilch. Zip.

$26 million paper weight.

Mind you the number of folks that collected a pay cheque or consultant’s cheque for this must be pleased with the multiply extended Commission deadlines and two years worth of income…? (wonder if these show up in the ‘jobs created’ numbers quoted by various ministries…? but that would be cynical…)

Add in the price tag of Fisheries Renewal, Forestry Renewal, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (e.g. the disappeared Habitat Restoration and Salmon Enhancement Program (HRSEP)), the amount of funding to the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy and Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program which are essentially meant to take the place of negotiated treaties – at least in the interim.

Price tag?

Unknown.

Number of jobs created, meetings held, and ‘consultants’ paid through these programs?

Significant.

Impact?

Highly questionable.

The spiral continues…

When does evidence-based decision-making suffer from corrupt evidence?

A press release and information out of the University of Alberta suggests:

A $4.4-million investment from Cenovus Energy, and the Canada and Alberta governments, has allowed the University of Alberta to establish a Chair in Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering. The research program will seek to strengthen the ability of industry and government to make evidence-based decisions about energy pathways and resources, while finding ways to conserve water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cenovus first established a $3-million endowment to support the Cenovus Energy Endowed Chair in Environmental Engineering, but wanted to seek further investment partnerships to expand the program.

How is it that ‘governments’ can make “evidence-based decisions” which is based on ‘evidence’ potentially funded by a potential polluter and most definitely a greenhouse gas emitter?

Isn’t ‘science’ and ‘research’ supposed to be ‘objective’?

And how about this for a ‘neutral’ (and I don’t mean carbon) title: Cenovus Energy Endowed Chair in Environmental Engineering.

It’s captured well in the UofA news release and the AB Minister of Education:

Thomas Lukaszuk, deputy premier and minister of enterprise and advanced education, said the collaboration “sounds like poetry to me.”

“This is exactly what the vision of our government and the vision of our premier is,” he said…

Yes, I’m sure Mr. Lukaszuk, that is exactly the vision… and maybe that’s one of the issues in Alberta… energy companies funding higher education research is considered “poetry”….

Apparently, the individual in this position:

“… will help governments and businesses better assess the costs and environmental impacts of various energy technologies, and ultimately shape the future of energy production in Canada.”

Hmmmm. And what about the general public?

Great that businesses and governments are getting assistance – hopefully those aren’t like the governments in Quebec, or the Canadian Senate, or companies like SNC Lavalin…

I’d like to hear the uproar when there is a Greenpeace-endowed Chair of Climate Change Research, or the PETA-endowed Chair of Fur Seal conservation…

Give me one Reason…

Solving salmon mysteries

Solving salmon mysteries — the real reason Fraser sockeye disappeared in 2009

“When an apple ripens and falls — what makes it fall? Is it that it is attracted to the ground, is it that the stem withers, is it  that the sun has dried it up, that it has grown heavier, that the wind shakes it, that the boy standing underneath it wants to eat it? No one thing is the cause.”       – Tolstoy, “War and Peace”

Fallacy of the single cause… or the ‘smoking-gun fallacy’. Several years ago Tracy Chapman sang about it: “Give me one reason…”

After the near-global financial meltdown of 2008, the explanations of causes began… Alan Greenspan, fiscal policy, investors, leveraged-funds, greed, etc. etc. Pundits, journalists, economists, world leaders and advisors, and every other somebody-wanting-to-be-somebody pondered the reason for the collapse.

The problem…?

There is no ‘ONE’ reason.

Yet… it seems that we now may have a $25+ million investment in the Cohen Commission with Chapman singing the theme song: “Give me one Reason”.

(and no, this is not ‘give me one reason’ to actually implement the recommendations… that’s a different story)

All of this to explain the ‘collapse’ of 2009 Fraser River sockeye.

Yet, could we not have done the same for the record run (for some areas of the watershed) the next year: 2010? Why not study the ‘record’ up, as well as the ‘record’ down… would that maybe not explain more as opposed to trying to find a ‘smoking gun’ for the collapse.

If we did a $25+ million judicial inquiry of the record-run the next year – what would we be looking for? What would be the analogy…?   the ‘fertilizing gun’…?

Was the entire issue with the Cohen Commission that maybe everyone used the wrong analogy?

_ _ _ _ _ _

What do both of these events prove: a record collapse followed by a record run?

(sound like stock markets anyone? of course, government pundits and leaders will tell you that the stock market runs have been all about the government intervention and ‘stimulus’… )

What does 2009 and 2010 tell us about Fraser sockeye?

That we, and the ‘managers’ charged with ‘managing’ wild salmon – don’t really have a clue. Like the pundits that try and predict stock market rises and falls based on illusions of some factor or other… we don’t really know what’s going on – yet, if we stick to the ‘averages’ from some 100 years of tracking, that will probably provide some sort of illusion of prediction…

Like financial markets, and various other fields, ‘predicting’ salmon runs comes down to chance – the ‘illusion of skill’ pervades…. and that if we just spend enough money, on enough ‘experts’ we will come up with an answer – THE ANSWER.

Nope – fallacy of the single cause.

 

Oh where, oh where, did Justice Cohen’s recommendations go…

2013 Fraser River salmon forecasting

2013 Fraser River salmon forecasting

Another year of wild salmon returns being prognosticated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) – another year of wildly variable predictions ranging from the one in ten chance (10%) probability through to the 9 in 10 chance (90% probability).

But… one has to read these carefully, as DFO as adopted their own unique probability language – it sort of reeks of used car salesman language (no offence to those in this line of business).

This year the Fraser River sockeye forecast in fisheries science speak is a one in ten chance (10% probability) of a return “at or below 1,554,000″ Fraser sockeye — and a nine in ten chance (90% probability) of a return “at or below 15,608,000″ Fraser sockeye”.

Hmmm… nothing like being able to report back in some ten years on some “best practices” or “benchmarking” report: “Look, we were 90% accurate in our forecasts because nine out of ten years the actual salmon return was always under the 90% probability prediction…”

Now the curious thing is that DFO goes with the 50% probability forecast (1 in 2 chance), which is this year at 4,765,000 Fraser sockeye — to “manage” the various fisheries.  So, again, in fisheries science speak that is a 1 in 2 chance that the run will be “at or below” that level.

Missing from these forecasts is the 0% chance and 100% chance – but instead of 100% chance representing a ‘guarantee’ it’s sort of in reverse. There is a 100% chance that the run will never get this high… oh, but wait, we don’t deal in 100% probabilities when we’re dealing with nature… ummm… because it is ‘un-predictable’…

Even says so in DFO’s own documents – including this years 2013 forecasts documents:

2013 sockeye forecasts

From the: “PRE-SEASON RUN SIZE FORECASTS FOR FRASER RIVER SOCKEYE AND PINK SALMON IN 2013

So, apparently we can’t “quantitatively” or “qualitatively” factor in, or accurately capture environmental variables…  And we are surprised that we can’t capture variability or reduce uncertainty?

Thus we use “random variability” in our forecasts…?

“Stochastic”… which the etymology (roots) of this word capture the meaning well…

“pertaining to conjecture,” from Greek stokhastikos “able to guess, conjecturing,” from stokhazesthai “guess,” from stokhos “a guess, aim, target, mark,” literally “pointed stick set up for archers to shoot at”

Or… maybe a dart board in which to place ‘predictions’ and start throwing away… and hence the opening illustration. Which also represents the new “top ranked models”…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Mis-guided probabilities aside…

Where are the variety of $20+ million Cohen Commission recommendations?

Several had a deadline of March 31, 2013 – and remain at a 0% probability of ever being implemented – or wait, is that supposed to be 100% probability that the level of implementation will remain “at or below” the current level of implementation…(?)

…if we are to use fisheries forecasting-speak….

But then at least it seems money that went into the Commission can just get piggybacked onto the “Canada’s Economic Action Plan” initiative – it was a great job and contract creation project for several years.

And well, it kept a variety of journalists going, and even this blog… but oh where, oh where has the interest in Fraser sockeye gone…?

 

What is non-measurable and non-predictable will remain non-measurable and non-predictable no matter how many PhDs you put on the job…

quotes from Taleb's "Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder"

quotes from Taleb’s “Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder”

A fantastic book that I recommend for all fisheries scientists (and otherwise) out there. Nassim TALEB1-300x300Nicholas Taleb’s “Antifragile: Things that gain from Disorder” – just recently released.

There’s a pretty decent review at Scientific American that sums things quite well:

…he’s brilliant, funny and fearless and tackles consequential topics. What are the limits of science? Of understanding and prediction? Given our limited ability to know and control the world, how should we live our lives? How can we prosper in spite—and even because—of life’s vicissitudes?

A former derivatives trader, Taleb made his reputation by bashing conventional economics and finance, but his scope has always ranged far beyond Wall Street. His Big Idea is that life inevitably serves up surprises, or “black swans”–from AIDS and nuclear weapons to the 9/11 attacks and the internet—that our necessarily retrospective models of reality cannot foresee.

…Here is how he sums up his message in The Wall Street Journal: “We should try to create institutions that won’t fall apart when we encounter black swans—or that might even gain from these unexpected events… To deal with black swans, we instead need things that gain from volatility, variability, stress and disorder.” That is what Taleb means by “antifragile.” He offers some suggestions for achieving antifragility in government, business and other spheres: “Think of the economy as being more like a cat than a washing machine.” “Favor businesses that learn from their own mistakes.” “Small is beautiful, but it is also efficient.” “Trial and error beats academic knowledge.” “Decision makers must have skin in the game.”

Taleb has a decent editorial in the Wall Street Journal this past November:

Learning to Love Volatility: In a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way, we must learn to benefit from disorder, writes Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Several years before the financial crisis descended on us, I put forward the concept of “black swans“: large events that are both unexpected and highly consequential. We never see black swans coming, but when they do arrive, they profoundly shape our world: Think of World War I, 9/11, the Internet, the rise of Google.

I also recommend Taleb’s earlier book from 2007, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The review on Amazon sums it well:

A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

This certainly sounds like the 2010 return of Fraser sockeye… the big one. And in turn the ‘collapsed’ run of the year previous.

There are some pretty good YouTube clips of Taleb speaking. He’s known to be volatile and unpredictable at times. In one of his calmer appearances, he has a great comparison between plane crashes and bank failures…

He suggests that when a plane crashes, generally people die – however, we learn from those crashes, which in turn reduces future plane crashes.

Yet when big banks crash and fail, we don’t learn from those events and in fact, more big banks fail more regularly.

Taleb suggests, as the handwritten quotes above suggest, that we spend far too much time and resources trying to predict things, that we can’t in fact predict.

Hmmmm. like salmon runs? for one.

And two, predictions of how many salmon can be caught from those badly predicted run sizes… yet retain the ‘health’ and ‘resilience’ of these runs, or collection of salmon runs which comprise the Fraser sockeye runs?

And so on, and so on.

We know that the concept, and formulaic practice of determining Maximum Sustainable Yield in fisheries is a highly failed, flawed, and screwy model. It should be banished, yet it still dominates ‘fisheries management’…. [see free E-book in right hand column]

…that term in itself a misnomer… it implies we can ‘manage’ the fish, and in turn the ‘fishers’ that target and bonk them… the latter being somewhat more ‘controllable’… ‘manageable’….

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wading through Justice Cohen’s reports, evidence (or lack of…), and 1000+ pages makes me think of Taleb’s quote above: ‘the limit is mathematical, period, and there is no way around it on this planet. What is nonmeasurable and nonpredictable will remain nonmeasurable and nonpredictable no matter how many PhDs you put on the job.’

And like banks and politicians — no one is held accountable for making bad or wrong predictions based on complex spreadsheets and formulaic equations. As Taleb essentially asks: what if we held scientists accountable, would we continue to get the same bullshit models and faulty prediction regimes? He suggests that far too few ‘predictors’ and ‘spreadsheet makers’ are ever held accountable for their ‘predictions’.

What if fisheries scientists and predictors and prognosticators were held accountable for their predictions? and risk models? and so on…?

Would we all of a sudden see a massive simplifying of this ever-increasing ‘science’ which is not really a ‘science’. Similar to economists, fisheries scientists can predict future salmon runs with as much accuracy as the prognosticators predicting where financial markets will close next Wednesday…

They/we can’t.

So why do we continue to waste millions and millions of dollars on faulty science, predictions, consultants, law professionals, and so on.

As has been pointed out in recent posts, and many past posts, wild salmon inhabit far too many vast areas (e.g. the North Pacific) of which we will never, ever be able to make accurate ‘predictions’ about. So why flaunt and flit about suggesting that we ‘understand’ things that we don’t…

It’s kind of like lying on one’s resume then getting the job, or taking performance enhancing drugs for decades and yet maintaining innocence, or lining one’s own pockets or those of their friends while an elected politician…

“Our track record in figuring out significant rare events in politics and economics [and natural systems] is not close to zero; it is zero.”