Tag Archives: aquaculture

Eureka: It was Colonel Mustard in the ocean with a net… practicing mixed stock fisheries.

Cohen Commisson: new winter clothing line

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Earlier this year I introduced you to the new corporate sponsor for the Cohen Commission:

Data-GAP

Cross off “summer” in the illustration above and put in “Winter”… as we move into the close of ‘hearings’ for the Cohen Commission and the short daylight hours, and long winter nights of Justice Cohen and his staff forging through testimony, upwards of a million pages of ‘data’, bumpf out the ying-yang, job-protecting bureaucrat testimony, and so on.

In my somewhat cursory review of the technical reports completed for the Commission — at least those available for review, let me give you a few of my salmonguy summary notes:

(1) very few scientists want to come out and actually take a hard line on something… (all protect the almighty god of Objectivity)

(2) there are many scientists lining themselves up for an ambitious and aggressive research agenda… (i’ve lost count of the “recommendations for research” in the technical reports). And one doesn’t do well on that front by having ‘opinions’ contrary to the funding agencies…

(3) I’m starting a list of how many ways one can say “limited data” or “data gaps. There are more ways to say it then there are ways to count a sockeye…

I’m hard pressed to believe we actually know anything more about Fraser sockeye then they swim downstream go to the ocean, come back, swim upstream, spawn… and… wait for it…

die.

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Let me give you a little taste:

Technical Report #1: Diseases and parasites

…There are certainly many pathogens that occur in wild sockeye salmon, but their precise impacts on survival in these stocks are poorly understood...

The absence of data on pathogens and diseases in wild salmon in British Columbia is a reflection of the historical research focus on fish diseases, in both the Province and other regions. Most research on salmonid diseases has been directed toward those afflicting captive fish, either in government hatcheries or private fish farms.

As with many scientific issues, more research is needed to elucidate the impacts of pathogens on Fraser River sockeye salmon…

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Technical Report #1A: Hatchery Disease Impact Assessment

…The disease impacts of salmon enhancement facilities on Fraser River sockeye salmon are largely unexplored in the literature. The published literature failed to provide sufficient direct or indirect evidence to fulfill standard criteria for causation.

The literature was unable to provide sufficient information to determine the likelihood of salmonid enhancement-associated diseases impacting Fraser River sockeye salmon, the magnitude of the hypothetical impacts, or the ability of enhancement facilities to prevent or mitigate the risks…

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Technical Report #2: Effects of contaminants on Fraser River sockeye salmon

…Many other substances in the Inventory of Aquatic Contaminants have the potential to adversely affect Fraser River sockeye salmon, including organometals, cyanides, monoaromatic hydrocarbons, chlorinated and non-chlorinated phenolic compounds, resin and fatty acids, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, hormone mimicking substances, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, wood preservation chemicals and nanoparticles.

However, insufficient information was available to evaluate the hazards posed to sockeye salmon in the Fraser River associated with exposure to these contaminants…

(now that’s comforting — if I can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not good for me… or sockeye)

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Project 3 – Evaluating the Status of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon and Role of Freshwater Ecology in their Decline

…Given our review of available data, measures of freshwater habitat condition are generally not available across many CUs even though Strategy 2 of the Wild Salmon Policy is charged with developing relevant habitat indicators. Given this gap

Given a general lack of information that could be used to reliably define dynamic changes in condition across sockeye salmon spawning, rearing, and migratory habitats…

Given a lack of experimental design in the way population, habitat, and stressor data have been collected, our ability to test for cause and effect relationships between the freshwater environment and Fraser sockeye salmon declines was limited. As a result, we were only able to use a limited set of quantitative techniques and data summaries to assess the role of freshwater influences.

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Project 4 – Marine ecology

Quite satisfingly, doesn’t carry on about all the data limitation — just the time constraints of pulling the report together:

A major objective that was achieved in this report was to assemble, within an eight week period, as comprehensive a summary as was possible of what is known about Fraser River sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in the ocean. While much of this effort involved summarizing information published in data/technical reports and the primary literature, where necessary, original data have been re-examined and new analyses conducted to fulfill the terms of the Statement of Work.

However, it was more an exercise of regurgitating information already out there… (appreciate the honesty).

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Project 5A – Summary of Information for Evaluating Impacts of Salmon Farms on Survival of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon

Inferences from statistical analyses that correlate trends in abundance or survival of Fraser River sockeye with trends in pathogens found in salmon farms will be extremely limited by the number of years of available data. There are only 3-5 years of overlapping Fraser River sockeye survival and salmon farm data available for statistical evaluation.

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Project 5B – Examination of relationships between salmon aquaculture and sockeye salmon population dynamics

The analyses in the first part of this report are based on short time series of aquaculture variables, beginning no earlier than 2003, with low statistical power to detect relationships should they truly exist.

(nothing like only 7-8 years of data to do ‘analysis’…)

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Project 5C – Impacts of salmon farms on Fraser River sockeye salmon: Results of the Noakes investigation

(No points about limited data, more about how other ‘scientists’ are not looking at the right data…)

Some of the publications are highly speculative for a variety of reasons including but not limited to the absence of data from government and industry as well as assumptions used by the researchers. In some cases, the publications were deficient to the point that they were neither objective nor scientific and they generally lack credibility.

(interesting… absence of data can in turn make someone have a non-objective nor scientific opinion and therefore lack credibility? that’s a rather bold subjective statement in itself to be made in a “scientific” investigation– is it not?)

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Project 5D – Impacts of salmon farms on Fraser River sockeye salmon: Results of the Dill investigation

(And in a complete about face from the above report…)

Unfortunately, it turned out that the data provided by Provincial government (BCMAL) and the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) were insufficient in both quantity and quality to allow a rigorous analyses capable of answering these questions with certainty. The biggest problem was the very short length of the time series available for analysis, basically only 4-5 year classes.

(these darn scientists, why can’t they just all get along…seems like reports 5C and 5D are a little pissing match between each other)

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Project 7 – Fraser River sockeye fisheries and fisheries management

The final section of our report provides recommendations which address important data gaps and known deficiencies in the fisheries management system

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Project 8 – Effects of predators on Fraser River sockeye salmon

Naming the predators of sockeye salmon should not be a difficult task given that everyone likely loves sockeye—but scientifically supported ecosystem-level information about predator species (numbers, diets, trends, and distributions) is sparse throughout the sockeye salmon range.

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Project 9 – Effects of climate change on Fraser River sockeye salmon

…There has been little research examining cumulative impacts, both across multiple stressors (e.g. fisheries capture, temperature, pollutants) or life history stages (i.e. carry-over effects), and/or among generations (i.e. intergenerational effects). These information gaps are critical to fill to begin to understand current trends in sockeye salmon productivity and abundance

(ummm… so… what has been the purpose of the Cohen Commission then…? to simply identify data gaps and recommend a big research agenda? Or… was it to try and answer some questions around current trends in salmon productivity and abundance, e.g. 2009 collapse).

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Project 10 – Fraser River sockeye salmon production dynamics

Further research is required to draw definitive conclusions about the relative influence of such large-scale versus more local processes.

(eghad…)

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Project 12 – Fraser River Sockeye Habitat Use in the Lower Fraser and Strait of Georgia

Although the effectiveness of habitat compensation projects in the Fraser River appears to be improving, the need for an improved habitat science, monitoring and data management framework is clear and aspects of this need are consistent with recommendations made by others over the past decade or two. In our view, some efforts have been made in this direction, but these have not been adequate and are even less likely to be adequate into the future…

Research in habitat ecology to evaluate alternative approaches to those prevailing today will be needed to adequately evaluate habitat compensation projects.

Programs and management initiatives used to examine and understand the quantitative parameters of habitats, potential losses and gains, habitat quality types and the dynamics of habitat productivity do not appear to be sufficient for keeping track of the current and future status of habitats used by sockeye and potential links and associations to variations in sockeye productivity.

However, one of my favorite lines comes early in the Executive Summary for this report:

Salmon are often viewed as a living barometer of the conditions in the environment and their habitat state and stock status could reflect potential impacts from human activities.

Yet… sadly… for crying out loud… we’ve got that little legal disclaimer in there…

“POTENTIAL” impacts.

ghad forbid, we say there’s actually been an impact of humans on salmon…

(that wouldn’t be objectively peer-reviewed…)

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Now, I suppose the question is whether or not, Justice Cohen will rely upon his legal training to come to some sort of conclusion on this rather expensive exercise.

Will he decide the issues on a matter of facts…?

Or will it be in the objective test of a reasonable person?

The sad thing is… that the objective test of a reasonable person means someone acting prudently… and in this case it could potentially be a professional person acting prudently.

And thus, will Justice Cohen be adopting the prudent, objective viewpoint of a fisheries scientist to review this information? or a policy maker?

ghad help the salmon if he is. Save yourselves little oncorhynchuses

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I can safely say I do not envy his work over coming months…

and here’s to hoping that more fisheries scientist could actually come out with an informed “opinion”.

This whole “objective” science thing is BS anyways… go read the old philosophers to find out how realistic it is to sit on the throne of objectivity and not have an opinion.

It’s not possible, and it sure as hell doesn’t do wild salmon any good.

We might as well all just run around with our tail between our legs, babbling on madly about how we don’t have “enough data”… if we could just get “more data”… “then we’d understand”… “then it’d be easy”.

We’ll never have enough data!

And how is it that catching and killing over 80% of the Fraser sockeye runs for over 50 years is not an impact!

A devastating one…

It’s the same story the world over… it’s why fisheries stocks around the world are in deep shit.

We catch them and eat them. All my empirical objective data says so… (as does the United Nations…)

We can keep looking for our keys under the streetlight because that’s where the light is, or we can look for them near where we dropped them… in the dark alley.

The lights are on folks, and just like a good Shakespearean drama, the spotlight is on us.

We did it. It was Colonel Mustard in the ocean with a net… practicing mixed stock fisheries.

“DFO scientist says Privy Council silenced her”

Canadian Press story:

DFO scientist says Privy Council silenced her

A fisheries scientist says she believes senior officials close to the prime minister prevented her from talking to the media about her research into the 2009 sockeye salmon collapse in B.C. …

Miller testified she believes it would have been useful to speak to the media after the article’s publication to let them know what scientists knew and didn’t know and she found it frustrating to see the direction some news stories went.

The federal government did not dispute Miller’s suggestion that it was the Privy Council Office, which serves the prime minister, that refused to allow Miller to talk to media.

“Dr. Miller’s testimony was thorough, extensive and speaks for itself,” Dimitri Soudas, communications director at the Prime Minister’s Office, said in an email to The Canadian Press.

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Globe and Mail story:

Privy Council blocked scientist’s access to media, Cohen probe told

The top bureaucratic arm of the federal government decided a fisheries scientist who published a paper on a virus that could explain the decline of Fraser River sockeye would not be allowed to speak to the media, even though her department had no objection, an inquiry has heard.

Further complicating matters is the fact that funding for Dr. Miller’s program is in jeopardy due to a shift in policy for paying staff.

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Nothing to be concerned about though… will be the comments flowing in from some of those that leave comments on this site…

Why did the Privy Council Office feel it had to intervene?

And what about the continued flow of ‘outside’ funding to keep DFO scientists afloat? … and now in jeopardy of being cut-off…?

curious stuff…

 

And the pressure builds… “silences and lies” and DFO and the feds…

Thanks to some other folks that are hilighting these articles. The mainstream media seems to be on to this bandwagon now…

New York Times article:

Norwegians Concede a Role in Chilean Salmon Virus

By   Published: July 27, 2011

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — A virus that has killed millions of salmon in Chile and ravaged the fish farming industry there was probably brought over from Norway, a major salmon producer has acknowledged.

Cermaq, a state-controlled Norwegian aquaculture company that has become one of the principal exporters of salmon from Chile, has endorsed a scientific study concluding that salmon eggs shipped from Norway to Chile are the “likely reason” for the outbreak of the virus in 2007, according to Lise Bergan, a company spokeswoman.

But, she argued, “the report didn’t pinpoint any company” as the culprit. [gee, thank goodness for that...]

The virus, infectious salmon anaemia, or I.S.A., was first reported at a Chilean salmon farm owned by Marine Harvest, another Norwegian company [which also has a large amount of operations on the B.C. coast].

It quickly spread through southern Chile, wracking a fishing business that had become one of the country’s biggest exporters during the past 15 years. The Chilean industry, whose major clients include the United States and Brazil, suffered more than $2 billion in losses, saw its production of Atlantic salmon fall by half and had to lay off 26,000 workers.

The outbreak in Chile also revealed structural problems within the industry, including overcrowding in pens that environmentalists say probably helped speed the spread of the virus. Since then, the industry and the Chilean government have instituted a wide range of reforms to try to contain outbreaks, but despite extensive efforts to rein it in the virus continues to spread.

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Victoria Times Colonist

Muzzling scientists wrong

Taxpayers paid for Kristi Miller’s important research on why West Coast salmon stocks have been crashing.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, for which she works, wanted the information made public.

There is great public concern about the future of salmon.

And when Science, a leading research journal, published the findings in January, it notified 7,400 journalists worldwide and advised them how to seek interviews with Miller, who leads a $6-million salmon-genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo.

Then the Privy Council Office in Ottawa – the top bureaucrats – stepped in and muzzled Miller, Postmedia News reported this week. She was ordered not to talk to journalists or speak publicly about her team’s research.

Those in control in Ottawa also ordered the Fisheries Department not to issue a news release about the study, saying that it “was not very good, focused on salmon dying and not on the new science aspect.” (The research identified a genetic marker associated with increased death rates for Fraser sockeye and “raises the possibility” that a viral infection might be to blame.)

The gag order remains in effect more than six months later.

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From UPI.com:

Canada said to be silencing scientists

OTTAWA, July 27 (UPI) — A leading fisheries scientist studying why salmon stocks have been crashing off Canada’s West Coast has been muzzled by a government department, documents show.

The documents show the Privy Council Office, which supports the prime minister’s office, stopped Kristi Miller, who heads a $6 million salmon genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station on Vancouver Island, from talking about her work published in the research journal Science, Postmedia News reported.

The journal notified journalists worldwide and encouraged Miller to “please feel free to speak with journalists.”

Documents obtained by Postmedia News under the Access to Information Act show major media outlets were making arrangements to speak with Miller but the Privy Council Office said no to the interviews.

The office also blocked a Fisheries Department news release about Miller’s study, saying the release “was not very good, focused on salmon dying and not on the new science aspect,” the documents show.

The Harper government has been reining in federal scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers and is often of significant public interest, Postmedia said.

Researchers are now required to submit to a process that includes “media lines” approved by communications officers, strategists and ministerial staff in Ottawa, Postmedia said.

The government’s control over communication is “really poisoning the science environment within government,” said Jeffrey Hutchings, a senior fisheries scientist at Halifax’s Dalhousie University.

“When the lead author of a paper in Science is not permitted to speak about her work, that is suppression,” he said. “There is simply no ifs, ands or buts about that.”

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Don’t think this story sounds familiar… go back and read the various accounts of the collapse of North Atlantic Cod. Here’s a decent little summary I found online, from the peer reviewed Canadian Journal of Communication.

Silences and Lies: How the Industrial Fishery Constrained Voices of Ecological Conservation

by Carol Corbin — Vol 27, No 1 (2002)

…As the fishery industrialized over the course of the twentieth century, those who worked in the industry became increasingly segregated. Distinct discursive realms emerged, among them “fishers’ vernacular,” “scientific language,” “product talk,” and DFO’s “official word.”

There was little dialogue between the groups and little collective opposition to the overfishing. DFO’s “official word” claimed that the stocks were strong despite protestation to the contrary from several fishers’ groups and DFO’s own scientists.

The outcome for the region was economically and ecologically devastating.

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However, I suppose we should listen to the “official word” from the technocrats within some of these institutions that suggest all is good in the hood…

trouble at the DFO henhouse?

sinking ship?

So what happens in the federal Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans when colleagues call out their own? …When employees/scientists call out other employees/scientists?

Is this something the ol’ Human Resources dept. deals with?

And what does it do for public confidence when a publicly-funded government institution has their employees bickering?

A memo released as evidence within the Cohen Commission into Fraser sockeye declines suggests a little trouble in the henhouse… (in the list of evidence released July 8th — exhibit #1342)

Hargreaves and Beamish memo 2003

'... i agree with the criticisms of DFO'

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Not that this sort of squabbling is surprising… however, this Ministry has a pretty important function. One is left wondering who’s running the show?

no association, personally or professionally

‘…not a good team player…’

how dare you.

I didn’t realize “science” was a team game…

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The Cohen Commission is into a summer break now, however there could be some more interesting DFO memos etc. How many other non-‘team players’ aren’t pulling the line?

 

Invest in fishing companies and fish farms? Bursting bubble to come…

I don’t know what else to say other than… I think I see a bubble ready to burst…

Today there was an “Exchange Traded Fund” (ETF) launched today by a company in New York — Global X. An ETF is sort of like a mutual fund, however it is traded on stock exchanges like a company.

The ETF launched today is the Global X Fishing Industry ETF (Ticker: FISN on the New York Stock Exchange NYSE).

Apparently:

This is the first ETF globally targeting the fishing industry. The fishing industry is comprised of two main components: commercial fishing and aquaculture. Commercial fishing represents those companies directly involved in the capture of fish from wild fisheries, while aquaculture represents those companies that supply fish through fish farming operations.

Want to know two of the top three holdings?

Cermaq and Marine Harvest — companies both with open pen salmon farms on the BC Coast.

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Here’s the theory lying behind this investment scheme…

Wow, sounds like a great investment opportunity…?!?!

Expansion of the middle class around the world… the drop of trade barriers and more bilateral agreements (e.g. another set of phrases for “colonization”)…

Global fishery trade has increased combined with more distant water fleets?

Hmmm… I wonder why?

Maybe because fish stocks subject to commercial fisheries around the world are in deep shit and folks are having to go further and wider to find fish… or simply fishing further and further down the food chain?

Sure wouldn’t mind seeing the rate of subsidies on this either?

In the 1990s, the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) suggested:

…that the operating costs of fisheries around the world exceeded commercial revenues by over $50 billion each year. Without subsidies, the world’s fishing industry would be bankrupt.

The World Wildlife Fund suggests:

Even as fish stocks dwindle, some of the world’s richest nations are paying billions of dollars to keep flagging fishing industries afloat through fishing subsidies. The result: a growing series of economic, social, and environmental crises around the world.

Estimated at tens of billions of dollars per year, these subsidies are equivalent to roughly 20% to 25% of the value of the landed fish catch worldwide. This scale of subsidization is a huge incentive to expand fishing fleets and overfish.

Hmmmm…. sounds like a great investment to me. It’s sort of like the auto industry or the oil industry — some of the most subsidized businesses on the planet.

It’s a negative sum game… the bubble will burst. And it won’t be individual’s investments and retirement plans that implode —- it will be entire nations, and citizens will go down with it…

(Anyone see the current debt of the United States?)

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Here’s the comforting graph that accompanies this little marketing brief on the Global X website…

 

Bubble?

It seems that this investment scheme has been launched because it appears that this trend can continue forever…

Well… Global X and investors… I have news for you… world catch of fish plateaued at the end of the 1990s and may actually be on a downward trend now. We’d have a better idea if some countries didn’t lie about their catch data — e.g. falsely inflated…

Global X response: ‘but there’s aquaculture…’

 

bubble II?

Well… at this point in time much of that graph – the blues and green portions – require other fish to feed the farmed fish…

I think that’s also known as a “negative sum” gain…

Maybe the wisest thing I see on the marketing material for this ETF:

 

Risk?

The risk include “…the possibility of depleted fish stocks as a result of overfishing…”?!

Hmmmm… yeah. You mean like 75% of the world’s fish stocks?

 

marketing bumpf?

Yes, however, there is absolutely no way that this is sustainable though.

Especially with the continued practice of bottom trawling and by-catch thrown overboard.

Absolutely no way.

This is as twisted a scheme as Bre-X gold, or Enron… or the Marine Stewardship Council certifying Fraser sockeye fisheries as sustainable the year that the stocks experience an unprecedented collapse.

if you’re a wise investor ‘short’ this stock… just like you should ‘short’ any commercially exploited fish stocks. Or the US dollar, or US real estate…

(‘shorting’ means you make money when the stocks collapse… fish or financial)

Schemes like this will simply increase the pressure on corporation and some countries to further expand and grow fishing fleets and processing facilities on fish stocks that absolutely CAN NOT support more FISHING pressure. (or increase the scale of fish farming — like open-pen salmon farming — in sensitive coastal areas worldwide).

As I’ve suggested multiple times on this site, and will continue to — show me where companies like Cermaq and Marine Harvest are providing farmed salmon to needy and hungry people and countries. There sure as hell aren’t many folks in the “growing middle class” buying salmon at $15/lb to feed their families…

What a bizarrely short-sighted world we live in…

Alaskan salmon fisheries: is this sustainable – or a great intervention?

During a quick look around Twitter and the ‘tweets’ of some fishy folk, I came across various news articles from other geographic areas with wild salmon fisheries. It got me pondering the great Alaskan salmon fisheries experiment

Here is salmon catch in Alaska for the last century… or so… (the PNP program is the “public — non-profit program” for running salmon hatcheries – ocean ranching operations).

 

Are these levels sustainable into the future?

Is there any way possible that this is sustainable into the future?

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Here are two other telling graphs:

 

Anchovies... South America

Canada's North Atlantic cod catch

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Is there a trend here?

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That trend has a common shape… and curiously the Alaskan commercial salmon catch has a price trend that may be foreshadowing the catch trend…

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(Remember, there was no shortage of salmon being caught prior to 1878 — especially in Alaska where Russian and other ‘explorers’ and ‘settlers’ were pillaging the coast for sea otter furs for quite some time prior to 1878 — And First Nations and Inuit had been harvesting wild salmon for eons prior to ‘contact’ — including in a commercial context for trade…

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Now, let’s add another even more worrisome trend into this Alaskan commercial salmon catch graph:

 

Hatchery to wild salmon commercial catch in Alaska

This graph comes compliments of “The Great Salmon Run: competition between farmed and wild salmon” (Knapp, Roheim and Anderson, 2007). It’s suggesting that the average hatchery-salmon catch is starting to approach 25% of the commercial catch in Alaska — or ocean ranching as they call it.

As the black boxes in the graph demonstrate, and as history most likely teaches us, the great intervention will need to continue to maintain catch levels that high. As we move into the second and third decades of the 2000s the hatchery-ocean ranching intervention will need to continue and the percentage of catch supplied by human intervention will continue.

The potential problem here is that this is a nasty little cycle that no one really wants to talk about…

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Hatcheries/Ocean ranching operations in Alaska are run by the PNPs — the “public — non-profit partnerships” . These were formed in the 1970s and 80s when the State of Alaska took over management of wild salmon from the Feds (as shown in the graphs).

These PNPs are largely operated by commercial fishing associations and the like. This means that the hatcheries-ocean ranching operations were set up under the same auspices of Canada’s Salmon Enhancement Program (SEP) — to increase salmon production and therefore increase commercial salmon catches.

These grand industrial/ecological balance upsetting experiments began in earnest in the 1970s. A time of a different mainstream cultural mindset, and a different understanding of ecological processes (well… sort of…).

In Alaska, the key to keeping these PNP Aquaculture Associations (hatchery-ocean ranching operations) afloat is that salmon caught commercially have:

FIRST — a cost recovery component and then

SECOND — a profit motive for the commercial fishing folks.

However, as one can see in the graphs above — stupendous salmon catch levels are being maintained at over 200 million fish across Alaska; YET the price levels are falling faster than the 2008 Dow Jones stock market index. (And cracks are starting to show in whether these catch levels can be maintained — see Yukon River fishery disaster at end of post)

And just like the stock market, sure there’s been a little blip back up in price — but nothing that resembles past price levels.

What does this mean for the Alaskan Hatchery-Ocean Ranching Operations?

Here’s a sample from one of the annual reports: The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association 2008 Annual Report.

Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association (CIAA) was created to make more salmon for all users in Cook Inlet. Our forefathers hoped to provide a home for salmon biology; to gather ideas and knowledge, and a means of broadcasting this science to fishing communities and to the general public. These founding visionaries clearly planned to have a hatchery. (my emphasis)

Quite a fascinating opening to an annual report… I’m not one to quite buy-in to the philosophy of salmon hatcheries as manifest destiny… however, each to their own…

The annual report goes on to explain:

Meanwhile, the CIAA hatchery program also continues to financially struggle. A new sockeye project at Tutka Bay was very successful in 2008. Recent high prices for early hatchery-produced sockeye at Resurrection Bay have also shown promise. I’m currently holding my breath and hoping adjustments to the cost recovery program are successful, concurrent with improvements in ocean survival for the Resurrection Bay stocking.

About 15 hatcheries across Alaska have closed and facilities at Crooked Creek, Eklutna, Port Graham, and Tutka Bay are among them. These sites continue to be used for various projects, but at a fraction of their capabilities. I believe CIAA needs to find funding to maintain operation of Trail Lakes Hatchery. Achieving escapement goals for all systems in Cook Inlet and financing a hatchery are challenging endeavors, but they are essential for the many users of today’s salmon.

We need to find a way through the financial problems we are facing and then begin to build a healthy revenue reserve. The men and women who founded CIAA were wise to do so. I am proud to join them in their effort to realize more salmon for all users.

And so now hatchery/ocean ranching operations are having to close due to financial hardship. Furthermore, some of the practices such as lake fertilization, and mass hatchery operations are starting to show some serious issues on the ecological front. Some of these are even highlighted in the good old Marine Stewardship Council audits of the Alaskan salmon fishery (however, that’s a separate post…)

In short, the mass practice of hatchery releases has huge impacts on wild, self-sustaining populations — in terms of loss of genetic diversity and in terms of giving a false sense of security in opening certain fisheries.

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And so now the vicious cycle begins — something akin to this:

 

Alaskan PNPs... the vicious cycle

And so what is a State government to do?

It has set this mess up through its devolution from Fed responsibility.

If more hatcheries go belly up (like a salmon in an oil spill) this means less salmon going to sea and the less salmon we will see (returning).

This means lower catch, which means less $$ for commercial fishing industry… and less $$ in cost-recovery initiatives of these public — non-profit aquaculture operations.

Less fish going out, less fish coming in, less money coming in.

Interim solution?

Catch more fish to bring in more $$ to curb the debt load.

Catching more fish means less fishing spawning and producing naturally. Less fish producing naturally, and less fish being propagated by humans — means less fish to catch down the road.

What does this all set up?

Government bail-out.

Bail out of the fishing industry — like US government had to do on the Yukon River last year.

Anchorage Daily News reporting in January 2010:

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke declared a commercial fishing disaster for Yukon River king salmon Friday following two years of poor runs, fishing restrictions and bans.

“Communities in Alaska along the Yukon River depend heavily on chinook salmon for commercial fishing, jobs and food,” Locke said in a statement from the Commerce Department. “Alaska fishermen and their families are struggling with a substantial loss in income and revenues.”

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When we intervene with most anything — e.g. oil-rich dictator run countries — history suggests that these interventions can — in the long-run — become very, very expensive and sometimes counterproductive.

When it comes to wild salmon — the interventions are endless (hatcheries, fertilization schemes, fake habitat construction, and so on…).

The problem is that once the interventions start ‘working’ everyone seems to forget they were interventions in the first place. And so we return to how things used to be — before the interventions…

The result?

A worse frigging situation than prior to the intervention.

Look at the US bank and auto industry bailout packages — do you really think the ridiculous executive compensation packages have stopped?

Or, that auto executives curbed their flying around in private jets?

Are individual citizens taking the example of debt out-of-control and curbing their own household debt?

fuggedaboutit…

Maybe we need to look at the root of the word and put it in the right context…

intervene comes from Latin intervenire “to come between, interrupt.”

Various definitions suggest: “Come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events”

Or most fitting for this situation: “Occur as a delay or obstacle to something being done.”

And what were we, or are we, “delaying”?

The inevitable.

If we continue to hammer away at salmon runs and at salmon habitats and ignore the potential perils of climate change and its affect on salmon and their habitat… we will reach a time when no intervention will offset the inevitable collapse…

What are we potentially delaying in relation to “something being done”.

That’s called lack of political will… (and public pressure)

And nobody wants to make the real tough decision… e.g. intervene on the interventions… because that will cost…

And the public has a tough time exerting pressure because the world of salmon and “salmon management” has become the world of technocrats, techno-bumpf, endless hundreds of pages government documents, inaccessible meetings flooded with inaccessible PowerPoint presentations, inaccessible government bureaucrats (e.g. “sorry that’s not my department), inaccessible language, and legislation that simply is not enforced, legal teams with little interest in enforcing and the list goes on…

Is it time for a full-on public intervention?

A Citizen’s Assembly on Wild Salmon?

Or…?

“Analogies between commercial poultry production and Atlantic salmon aquaculture may be informative”

Some interesting articles over at Wired magazine that I hadn’t picked up before — and maybe somewhat informative as the Cohen Commission into Fraser sockeye declines starts going over related information:

Brandon Keim writes last summer, 2010:

which is the diseased-ridden salmon?

Salmon Killer Disease Mystery Solved

The identity of a mysterious disease that’s raged through European salmon farms, wasting the hearts and muscles of infected fish, has been revealed.

Genome sleuthing shows the disease is caused by a previously unknown virus. The identification doesn’t suggest an obvious cure — for now, scientists have only a name and a genome — but it’s an important first step.

“It’s a new virus. And with this information now in hand, we can make vaccines,” said Ian Lipkin, director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, a World Health Organization-sponsored disease detective lab.

Two years ago, Norweigan fisheries scientists approached Lipkin and asked for help in identifying the cause of Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation, or HSMI, the official name for a disease first identified in 1999 on a Norweigan salmon farm.

Infected fish are physically stunted, and their muscles are so weakened that they have trouble swimming or even pumping blood. The disease is often fatal, and the original outbreak has been followed by 417 others in Norway and the United Kingdom. Every year there’s more of the disease, and it’s now been seen in wild fish, suggesting that farm escapees are infecting already-dwindling wild stocks.

Lipkin’s team — which has also identified mystery viruses killing Great Apes in the Ivory Coast, and sea lions off the U.S. West Coast — combed through genetic material sampled from infection salmon pens, looking for DNA sequences resembling what’s seen in other viruses, and inferring from those what the HSMI-causing sequence should look like. Lipkin likened the process to solving a crossword puzzle. The researchers eventually arrived at the 10-gene virus they called piscine reovirus, or PRV. The virus was described July 9 in Public Library of Science One.

Related reoviruses have been found on poultry farms and cause muscle and heart disease in chickens. “Analogies between commercial poultry production and Atlantic salmon aquaculture may be informative,” wrote the researchers. “Both poultry production and aquaculture confine animals at high density in conditions that are conducive to transmission of infectious agents.”

Such findings may be useful as the Obama administration develops a national policy for regulating aquaculture.

“If the potential hosts are in close proximity, it goes through them like wildfire,” said Lipkin.

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One mystery ‘solved’ and another found… Keim’s newer article from early in the new year 2011:

Mystery Disease Found in Pacific Salmon

diseased salmon?

Traces of viral activity have been found in a mysteriously dwindling population of Pacific salmon, hinting at an explanation for deaths that have so far baffled scientists.

In fish returning to Canada’s Fraser River, site of the die-off and home to one of North America’s last great sockeye salmon runs, researchers discovered patterns of gene expression usually seen when a body fights a virus.

The findings are not conclusive, and pose many as-yet-unanswered questions. “This is the discovery stage,” said Scott Hinch, a University of British Columbia salmon ecologist. “But it raises all kinds of concerns.”

The importance of salmon in the Fraser and elsewhere isn’t only in the intrinsic marvelousness of creatures that are born far from the sea, spend adulthood thousands of miles away in the open ocean, and return in a final blaze of upstream glory to spawn and die in the waters of their birth.

The Fraser River’s wild salmon fishery is worth about $1 billion annually. And that’s just the obvious value. Salmon migration is also a physical circuit to the sea, each body a mass of nutrients carried from ocean to continental interior, scattered by scavengers across the land.

Some researchers think the Pacific northwest’s forests are so lush not just because of the region’s climate, but because its soils were fertilized for thousands of years by salmon bodies — an extraordinary line of natural credit, now threatened by dams and overfishing.

Unlike other major river systems on North America’s Pacific coast, however, the Fraser is largely undammed. Even as other Pacific salmon populations vanished or entered boom-and-bust cycles typical of ecosystems on the brink of collapse, its own populations persisted. Until the early 1990s, about 8 million sockeye salmon returned each year to spawn. Then their numbers started drop.

In some years, half of the Fraser’s returning sockeye die before spawning. In other years, mortality is closer to 95 percent. “The causal mechanisms of this premature mortality have eluded multidisciplinary research by scientists and fisheries managers,” wrote Hinch and his colleagues, led by biologist Kristina Miller of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in a Jan. 14 Science paper.

In less academic terms, the fish are dying, and nobody can figure out why.

Five years ago, the researchers noticed that some Fraser sockeye appeared to show unusual signs of physiological stress while at sea. In the new study, they take that work to the genomic level. Salmon were caught, biopsied and tagged with radio transmitters in the ocean, about 120 miles from the Fraser; at the Fraser’s mouth; and again on their spawning grounds. For each stage, the researchers could look for patterns in gene expression, then see if they tracked with differences in fate.

A pattern stood out. Many of the fish displayed high activity in a set of genes typically activated in response to viral infection. When this genomic signature was found in ocean fish, they were 13.5 times more likely to die before reaching the Fraser. When the signature was found in fish tagged in the river, they were 50 percent more likely to die before reaching their spawning grounds. In fish tagged on their spawning grounds, those with the signature were 3.7 times more likely to die without mating.

“It’s excellent science,” said fish microbiologist James Winton of the U.S. Geological Survey, who was not involved with the research. “This appears to be quite important.” Winton applauded the researchers’ approach, which had never before been used in salmon, a species for which researchers only notice the most obvious diseases.

“The fact that, within the physiology of these fish, you can see signs of who is likely to make it and who won’t, is amazing,” said Michael Webster, a program officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Wild Salmon Ecosystems Initiative.

However, though a virus is the most likely culprit, it hasn’t yet been isolated. The findings open up a range of new questions, said each of the researchers: If the pattern is indeed caused by a virus widespread in the Fraser, where did it come from? Was it introduced, just as infectious hematopoietic necrosis — a lethal virus endemic in Pacific salmon — has been transferred around the world? If it was always there, did it suddenly evolve into a more virulent form? Or is something else exacerbating its effects?

The researchers suspect climate has a role in the answers to some of these questions. In the last 40 years, the Fraser’s waters have warmed by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit, with most of that coming in the last 15 years. “In some cases, that temperature alone is pushing fish stocks to the edge,” said Hinch.

Heat and stress can weaken fish, making them more vulnerable to disease. Changing temperatures also change the ranges of microbes and parasites, allowing them to move into new regions. Over the last decade, the Yukon River has been invaded by Ichthyophonus, a parasite that threatens the river’s Chinook salmon population [along with the Marine Stewardship Council eco-certified Bering Sea pollock fishery]. It’s believed to have spread because of changing temperatures.

“We use the term emerging diseases. In humans, it’s the SARS coronavirus, or avian flu. They also occur in fish. Part of (their increasing incidence) is due to the fact that more people are looking, with better tools. Part of it is due to us moving pathogens around the globe. And part of it due to increasing stress on these animals,” said Winton. “At some point, we’re going to add the last straw.”

_ _ _ _ _ _

Does increasing stress, increasing temperatures and the like maybe suggest we should be even more precautionary in our ‘management’?

Maybe more salmon should get to the spawning grounds?

Maybe we’ll need to forgo some ‘economic’ gain now, to preserve for the future… you know… like a savings account, or an RRSP? (we certainly wouldn’t want that to stand for Registered Reductions in Salmon Populations).

Remember the last sentence of the previous article… “If the potential hosts are in close proximity, it goes through them like wildfire”… and combine with the one above: “At some point, we’re going to add the last straw.

salmon farming: raising and eating lions, rather than antelope?

Province newspaper image

Here are two thoughts — articles — to ponder together:

Bankruptcy

“Declaring Chapter 11”

What a poetic phrase, starting with ‘declaring’. Not sighing or announcing or admitting, but Declaring!

Chapter 11 refers to part of the bankruptcy code that covers reorganizations. In Chapter 11, you don’t shut down your business. Instead, faced with failure, you suspend certain agreements and debts and negotiate in a way that permits you to continue.

Chapter 7 is very different. It means “I give up.” You shut down, it’s over.

Metaphorically, we have the chance to declare either kind of bankruptcy whenever we work on a project or consider a habit, a social media addiction or even a job. Teetering on the edge of bankruptcy is painful. Declaring is often a relief.

Acknowledging that you’re stuck is the very first step in getting unstuck…

Perhaps it’s time to stop fighting a losing fight and start creating value doing something else instead. Bankruptcy is never fun, but when you give up something that wasn’t getting you where you needed to go, sometimes you discover a future better than you ever expected.

_ _ _ _ _ _

From the Province newspaper the other day:

Wild’ oceans at risk from overfishing, B.C. scientists say

The overfishing of cod, tuna and other predatory fish has led to a sizable increase in smaller fish — potentially threatening marine ecosystems and the very existence of “wild” oceans as we know them, a team of British Columbia scientists is warning.

The world’s predatory fish population has dropped by about two-thirds over the past century, says the group from the University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre.

Meanwhile, the stocks of “forage” fish, such as capelin, sardine and anchovy, have increased by more than 100 per cent.

The researchers call the process “fishing down the food-web” and say it could change the face of the world’s oceans, in short order.

“There are still a lot of fish in the sea, but they’re just smaller,” lead researcher Prof. Villy Christensen said from Washington, where the findings were being presented Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“It means we are removing the fish that control the (marine) ecosystems and we’re moving toward an unhealthy situation.”

Led by Christensen, a team of scientists examined more than 200 marine ecosystem models from around the world, dating back to 1880.

Christensen said the revealed trend could threaten marine ecosystems with more disease and other problems.

“Take the Serengeti, for example. What would happen there if we removed all the predators — no lions or leopards? The antelopes and other plant eaters would grow in number and there would be no one to remove the sick, old and injured animals, and that could lead to widespread problems with diseases.”

With a shift to smaller species, Christensen said the oceans’ uses could also drastically change.

“Currently, forage fish are turned into fish meal and fish oil and used as feeds for the aquaculture industry. . . . If the fishing-down-the-food-web trend continues, our oceans may one day become a farm to produce feeds for the aquaculture industry,” he said.

Christensen discussed the issue in a panel in Washington that explored what the world’s oceans would look like by 2050. The panel said the majority of fish will be forage species. The scientists also found that the bulk of the predatory fish decline — 54 per cent — has occurred in the past 40 years.

Although the smaller fish are able to thrive in this situation, Christensen warned environmental changes could result in further population fluctuations. “And that’s a scary outlook,” he said.

Christensen said overfishing creates a “when cats are away, the mice will play” situation that allows forage species to thrive with reduced threats.

To curb this, he said changes to global fishing practices are needed.

“It’s very clear what we need to do,” Christensen said. “The capacity of the world’s fishing fleets is too big and it keeps increasing. We are now getting less fish and seafood from the ocean than we were 20 years ago, and yet we have more boats out there. We need to turn that around.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

There is a further podcast with Christensen available at the Science Journal: Podcast: Will There Be Fish by 2050?

Dr. Christensen explains in his analogy comparing our fishing and fish eating habits with the Serengeti — how humans are eating the lions, rather than the antelopes.

Our focus on eating the predators of the ocean as opposed to the foragers, means we are eating the lions as opposed to the antelopes or gazelles.

Following this analogy, one might suggest we are grinding up the antelopes and gazelle (forage fish) to raise lions (farmed salmon) — and worse yet, it’s not like the farmed lions are being fed to the poor…

As such is salmon farming part of the ‘solution’ ? — (as purported on certain salmon farming websites?)

Or is it part of a bankruptcy scenario?

Is Godin on to something here: “Perhaps it’s time to stop fighting a losing fight and start creating value doing something else instead.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Another item to ponder: Is it also time for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for institutions such as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans?

Time for a fundamental restructuring in how “fisheries” are conducted?

As Godin suggests: “In Chapter 11, you don’t shut down your business. Instead, faced with failure, you suspend certain agreements and debts and negotiate in a way that permits you to continue…

…Perhaps it’s time to stop fighting a losing fight and start creating value doing something else instead. Bankruptcy is never fun, but when you give up something that wasn’t getting you where you needed to go, sometimes you discover a future better than you ever expected.”

Because… really… what is the purpose of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans?

Well… first… it is supposed to be conservation of fish and fish habitat —- isn’t it?

Is the Department achieving that?

From the sounds of things, it doesn’t sound like fisheries departments around the world are doing all that well on this front…

Citizen’s Assembly on Wild Salmon in BC?

Search “BC salmon” on google or otherwise and one can get a list of media articles. As usual, there is much debate from all sides of the issue — many of which are explored on this site.

Some curious comparisons this week…

The release of another peer-reviewed scientific study (Public Library of Science ONE — PLOS):

Sea Louse Infection of Juvenile Sockeye Salmon in Relation to Marine Salmon Farms on Canada’s West Coast

Background

Pathogens are growing threats to wildlife. The rapid growth of marine salmon farms over the past two decades has increased host abundance for pathogenic sea lice in coastal waters, and wild juvenile salmon swimming past farms are frequently infected with lice. Here we report the first investigation of the potential role of salmon farms in transmitting sea lice to juvenile sockeye salmon.

Conclusion

This is the first study to demonstrate a potential role of salmon farms in sea lice transmission to juvenile sockeye salmon during their critical early marine migration [spring time]. Moreover, it demonstrates a major migration corridor past farms for sockeye that originated in the Fraser River, a complex of populations that are the subject of conservation concern.

Now to be fair, if one looks at the authors of this paper there are some organizations involved that may fairly be suggested to have some bias in their perspective. However, there is a rather significant difference between profit-based bias and non-profit-based bias; between satisfying-shareholder-make-profit-bias and special-interest-group-protect-wild salmon bias.

And really this whole bias thing is rather complex isn’t it?

Major universities get millions and millions of dollars of funding from industrial companies — say for example close to home here in Prince George: Canfor the major forestry company has invested a lot of money in the University of Northern BC (UNBC) campus. Go to a public presentation and you will most likely sit in the “Canfor Theatre”.

Do you think major research is going to come out of these institutions that might affect those donations?

Hard to say…?

The important point is that information gets out into the public realm for people to make up their own minds — that’s democracy isn’t it? People power?

_ _ _ _ _ _

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has invested probably over $100 million (or more) in aquaculture over the last decade or so — think it’s going to start releasing research or policies that have potential to make those investments obsolete?

Probably not.

_ _ _ _ _ _

And so what does the BC Salmon Farmers Assoc. (BCSFA) have to say about this recently released research paper?

More research needed into sea lice

The British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association [BCSFA] has stated that additional research into sea lice and its effect on wild salmon stocks is both important and necessary in response to the findings of a new study [above] that ties salmon farms to wild salmon infected with sea lice.

… the study recorded the highest lice levels on juvenile sockeye in the Georgia Strait near a farmed salmon processing plant, which intensifies existing concerns regarding the full potential consequences of the salmon farming sector on wild salmon in BC.

The aquaculture industry agrees with the researchers that more work is needed.

“Our farmers take very seriously the responsibility of managing sea lice on our fish to ensure they are not putting additional stress on wild salmon,” said BCSFA Executive Director Mary Ellen Walling. “Both sea lice and the challenges faced by BC’s wild salmon are complicated, multi-layered issues and there is more work to be done.”

_ _ _ _ _ _

But hold on a second…

The “fact” reported at the Salmon Farmers site suggest: “farmers work to protect wild salmon from sea lice” and the added commentary from the site moderators suggest:

…the precautionary approach is a very interesting topic. Many would suggest that aquaculture (growing fish and shellfish that help take pressure off wild stocks) is one step in the precautionary principle. But you are correct that, like all forms of food production, farming seafood also has some inherent risks

Hmmm…

If you’ve read other posts on this site; I’m not one to buy this: “salmon farming takes pressure off wild stocks” argument… that’s the good old apples and oranges thing… it’s like saying goose farms take the pressure of wild geese… and so on.

Furthermore, you can watch the little Youtube video at the site:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-RqHyCxDEc

There’s kind of an important piece of “fact” left out in this little video…

It’s all fine and dandy that the adult Atlantic salmon are checked for lice — and you can see one pulled of an adult salmon in the video — and it’s fine and dandy that the farmed salmon pick up the lice “naturally”, and so on and so on.

That’s not really the problem.

The problem is that the farms accentuate a naturally existing parasite.

Sort of like the pine beetle infestation.

Pine beetles have been around about as long as trees. The two co-existed with ups and downs… however when intensive logging, fire suppression to protect the logging industry, a beetle break out in a Provincial Park and lack of interventions, and a list of other interventions occurred — a “naturally” occurring parasite became a devastating infestation.

The farmed salmon are in southern B.C. bays largely all year round, this means the parasitic lice have hosts all year round. Whereas wild salmon are not around all year round and thus lice don’t exist at the same densities as migration time.

When southern salmon fry migrate through salmon farming areas (many of which are directly on wild salmon migration routes — esp. Fraser salmon fry) they pick up the sea lice that wouldn’t be there in the same numbers if the salmon farms weren’t there. The sea lice are there on adult farmed salmon — adult salmon which wouldn’t be there, and haven’t been there since time immemorial.

(think head lice and elementary schools… the lice wouldn’t be there in the same numbers if there weren’t a concentration of close proximity kids heads to infest)

It only takes a few lice to knock down a baby salmon. (And if you read the study quoted above, there is a big difference in sea lice densities on salmon in areas like the Skeena River: no salmon farming — and the Georgia Strait: lots of salmon farming, plus salmon farm processing plants with guts, lice, and such pumped directly into the Strait.

_ _ _ _ _ _

So let’s take the comment from “bcsalmonfacts” at their site:

…the precautionary approach is a very interesting topic. Many would suggest that aquaculture… is one step in the precautionary principle. But you are correct that, like all forms of food production, farming seafood also has some inherent risks

And combine it with Ms. Walling’s recent comment:

“Both sea lice and the challenges faced by BC’s wild salmon are complicated, multi-layered issues and there is more work to be done.”

And the comments from the above article:

[this] intensifies existing concerns regarding the full potential consequences of the salmon farming sector on wild salmon in BC… The aquaculture industry agrees with the researchers that more work is needed.

_ _ _ _ _

Well… the European Union, and European Environmental Bureau (1999) has some interesting definitions and considerations of “the Precautionary Principle” :

2.2 Precaution places the burden of proof on the proponents of the activity.

The reversal of the burden of proof is a fundamental principle of precautionary action. The reversal of burden of proof creates incentives for the proponents of an activity to prove that their product or activity is safe. The traditional burden of proof, which lies with legislators [think DFO’s new legislation and the Province of BC before that], may cause considerable delays before action is initiated [considerable delays when government bureaucracies handle things… no… I don’t believe it].

Furthermore, in the case of ‘uncertainty’ the traditional burden of proof may not work. Yet failure to act may in some cases impose considerable costs upon society and health

2.3 Precaution applies the substitution principle, seeking safer alternatives to potentially harmful activities, including the assessment of needs.

Where safer alternatives are available or may be marketed in the forthcoming future, these should be promoted as a substitute to the activity giving rise to ‘reasonable suspicion’. The substitution principle allows for technology driven changes (best environmental option) instead of waiting for the proof of harm. [think closed containment salmon farming, and no salmon farms on wild salmon migration routes]

The principle should be applied in a wide sense including the consideration of alternative products or services to serve the same function in addition to alternative materials for the same product…

2.4 Precaution requires public participation in decision-making.

Risk perception has a cultural dimension.

There is a considerable degree of subjectivism in choosing for a risk averse or a risk friendly approach, different within and between different societies. Decisions on the acceptability of technologies and activities, as well as on the intensity of their control cannot be defined by ‘sound science’ alone, but requires a mechanism to identify the preferences of the society. [this is where non-profits come into play]

Therefore, accountable, transparent public and democratic decision-making within Community institutions is a prerequisite to intelligent decision-making that will serve all citizens…

_ _ _ _ _

A mechanism to identify the preferences of society.

Great point.

This isn’t just about science. This isn’t just about peer-reviewed journal articles. This isn’t just about esteemed fisheries scientists and their viewpoints and research. And this most certainly isn’t just about economics and agricultural exports and even just about jobs.

This is about the relationship between people and salmon; people and their surrounding environments; and people and their desired futures.

Maybe a Citizen’s Assembly on Wild Salmon in BC… Rather than a quasi-legal, Dr. science-heavy, multi-million dollar Commission? (but I will wait to read the final report next year on this… Maybe Justice Cohen has and will hear the voices of common BC’ers and otherwise).

Maybe a Citizen’s Assembly on Wild Salmon in BC… rather than just an under-financed, sometimes overworked, heavy on the B bureaucracy that is fundamentally broken in so many way.

What do you think?

What’s your salmon story?

Is this salmon double speak?

The Vancouver Sun reported a few weeks ago in this article (Salmon-farm reactivation reignites environmental debate) that some salmon farming areas directly in the path of migrating Fraser River and other southern BC salmon might be re-opened after two years of sitting fallow (inactive).

…By adding another half million farmed fish to the sensitive migration route, Marine Harvest is sending a signal to British Columbians that they are not concerned about the impact their fish farms are having on wild salmon,” said Michelle Young, of the Georgia Strait Alliance and the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform.

The major concern is that the farm will put the offspring of the collapsed 2009 Fraser River sockeye run at risk, she said.

But Clare Backman, Marine Harvest sustainability director, said the farm will be managed carefully to ensure there is no effect on wild salmon.

The fallowing was part of a normal pattern and the farm is being reopened because of a subletting request, he said. “Using these sites has not been in our plan, but Grieg Seafood asked if they could use the site.” Backman said.

The site is up to date and complies with all the rules, he said.

As in all Marine Harvest farms, disease and sea lice are addressed to ensure there is no threat to wild salmon, Backman said…

_ _ _ _ _

But I don’t really understand…

On March 2, 2010 Gail Shea the federal Minister of Fisheries & Oceans announced in a “Ministerial Statement” entitled Fisheries Negotiations at British Columbia Treaty Tables:

The Government of Canada is deferring the negotiation of fisheries components at treaty tables in British Columbia that involve salmon, pending the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River [Cohen Commission].

The deferral of fisheries related negotiations will allow for treaty negotiations to be staged so that fish chapters in treaties can be informed by the findings and recommendations of the Inquiry. (my emphasis)

Some might say, “hey that’s prudent… defer these vital chapters of an already stalled and slow process until Justice Cohen can report.”

The ministerial release continues:

“The Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks have been in decline and the Commission of Inquiry has been established to investigate the matter. The Commissioner has been mandated with investigating the causes for the decline, assessing the current state of Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks and long term projections for those stocks, and making recommendations for improving the sustainability of the sockeye salmon fishery in the Fraser River.

The Commission is expected to provide an interim report in August, 2010 followed by a final report by May 1, 2011. [this has now been extended to June 2012 with an additional $11 million budget injection]

“The findings of the Commission of Inquiry may have implications for management of other Pacific salmon fisheries, and it is therefore prudent to defer negotiations on the fisheries components of treaties in British Columbia.

_ _ _ _ _ _

“…may have implications for management of other Pacific salmon fisheries…”

That’s an important line here, because if one looks at the main reason why DFO and the Province of BC just got slapped in BC Supreme Court in 2009… it was because:

In February 2009, the British Columbia Supreme Court (BCSC) ruled that the activity of aquaculture is a fishery which falls under exclusive federal jurisdiction pursuant to sub-section 91(12) of the Constitution Act, 1867 – Sea Coast and Inland Fisheries and, in effect, struck down substantial portions of the provincial regulatory regime governing aquaculture.

_ _ _ _ _ _

So, its “prudent” to shutdown First Nation treaty negotiations surrounding fisheries so as to await the recommendations of the Cohen Commission… however, not so prudent to discuss whether fallowed open-pen salmon farming sites (e.g. another form of “fishing”) should be re-opened along wild salmon migration routes?

Yes, yes, I can hear the salmon farming advocates now… however, the BC Salmon Farmers Assoc. and others would not have been granted “standing” in the Cohen Commission if all the science and proof was in that salmon farming does not impact wild salmon.

Or, that salmon farming as currently practiced may need to be scaled back.

Or, that maybe fallowed sites should not be opened just yet.

There’s still some important questions to be answered here (hopefully some by the Cohen Commission, although it’ll not be till 2012 now…) — hence the prudence in Treaty negotiations… but not so much in more “economic” fisheries activities?

Might this be a little double speak? A little double standard?

_ _ _ _ _

And this on the coattails of the 2009 Supreme Court decision that made it clear that the two governments didn’t even know who was supposed to be the umpire at the ball game, let alone who was on first base…

And then everyone should trust the companies when they state: “The site is up to date and complies with all the rules”?

This, when the wrong team was developing and ‘enforcing’ the rules for a good decade or two (the Province of BC)… let alone ensuring the right rules were in place to ensure protection of wild salmon and other marine species…

Sure there might be “compliance” with the rules, but does that mean the “rules” are the right rules?

The rules of the road suggest that in some places the speed limit is 80 km/hr… yet accidents still happen even when complying with the rules of the road and the speed limit…