Tag Archives: Chinook

“Wild Salmon Are Not Holding Up, Study Finds” – New York Times

Really… is this type of result all that surprising?

NY Times photo from article

Wild Salmon Are Not Holding Up, Study Finds

Since 1964, the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in California has supplied the watershed with four to 10 million juvenile Chinook salmon each year. The hatchery began the practice as a way of countering the effects of dams that block migration and making sure that the salmon population remained viable. But recent research shows that the massive influx of hatchery-raised fish is masking the fact that wild fish populations are not holding up.

“Without distinguishing hatchery from wild fish, the perception is that we have healthy salmon surviving in a healthy river,” said Rachel Johnson, a fish ecologist affiliated with the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the lead author of a new paper published in the journal PLoS One.

[this is a problem across western North America where wild Pacific salmon roam]

Most hatchery-raised fish are unmarked, but Dr. Johnson and her colleagues navigated past this obstacle by using a new technique that measures sulfur isotopes deposited in salmon ear bones, or otoliths. Chemical elements from food and the environment accumulate in otoliths over a salmon’s lifetime, giving scientists a way of determining an animal’s origins and movements.

In this case, Dr. Johnson differentiated between wild and hatchery-reared salmon by detecting traces of a domestic diet in the latter population’s otoliths. After adult fall-run Chinook salmon returned to the river and hatchery to spawn, the researchers collected otoliths from over 1,000 carcasses.

Wild fall-run Chinook salmon typically stay in freshwater for three to six months after birth and then migrate out through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and into the ocean, spending up to three years there before returning to their native river to spawn. Hatchery-born fish, on the other hand, are usually trucked to the bay, bypassing obstacles like freshwater pollution, low water levels and predators that their wild counterparts consistently contend with.

While a set number of hatchery fish make it to sea each year, Dr. Johnson says she suspects that wild population dynamics vary from year to year, depending on conditions.

Those population dynamics were surprisingly skewed for the 2004-5 season, when the researchers carried out their work. Of around 12,000 fish that returned and spawned in the Mokelumne watershed, most were hatchery fish that went directly to the hatchery. About 1,500 fish spawned in the Mokelumne River itself, but just 10 percent were actually born there. All in all, only 4 percent of the total spawning population were of natural origin.

Researchers are unsure exactly why natural populations have such low survival rates, but they suspect that water degradation, pollution and overfishing all contribute. Hatchery fish themselves could be having an impact, too: recent studies have found genetic and behavioral differences in hatchery-born and wild salmonids. Hybrid offspring of hatchery and wild fish may have a lower chance of surviving and reproducing than purely wild offspring do.

Artificial propagation aimed at aiding the recovery of endangered or threatened species is a controversial topic in ecology. Researchers and policymakers debate whether simply producing more animals of a dwindling species is an acceptable means of sustaining populations. “The ultimate goal for habitat restoration is that we are helping fish rebuild in a natural environment, not intervening in such an extreme way,” Dr. Johnson said.

[Salmonguy note: "restore" habitat...? is that really possible at this point in time? 'restore' to what? "restore" salmon runs... restore to what?]

Fall-run Chinook salmon are listed as a species of concern, but this label results largely from a lack of data on their their populations. Although managers set a goal of doubling the numbers of wild salmon in the Mokelumne River, until now it has been impossible to estimate how many naturally occurring fish are present.

[also a real problem across western North America where wild Pacific salmon roam]

Dr. Johnson, who is currently based at the Bay Delta office of the federal Bureau of Reclamation, emphasizes that she is not anti-hatchery, but that more awareness and monitoring of the salmon situation is needed to determine why wild salmon stocks are not replacing themselves and whether salmon populations can survive if the hatcheries are (hypothetically) shut down.

Mass marking of all hatchery fish — like clipping a fin — would make this job easier, and many hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest are already doing this.

Globally, the number of hatchery-produced fish of salmon and other salmonids has skyrocketed over the past 20 years,” Dr. Johnson said. “Even though this study was done on the Mokelumne River, I think it’s a broader issue for salmon conservation.”

You bet, Dr. Johnson, you bet…

And only set to grow if Russia is able to put their $2 billion in cash to work in building salmon hatcheries in the far east of that country on the Pacific side. Japan is already pumping out over 95% of their annual commercial catch as hatchery salmon… And Alaska’s billions of “salmon ranching”… and Canada’s 600 million or so hatchery salmon…

Old Vitus Bering & George Stellr are probably rolling in a grave somewhere… (early European ‘explorers’ and naturalists working for Russian Navy in 1700s — you can see their ‘graphiti’ all over the North Pacific)

Canada is pathetically ranked 125th of 127 countries in fisheries conservation. If this was our hockey ranking, what would be the National response?

Why is this not a major headline in Canada’s newspapers today?

This is fundamentally embarrassing to all Canadians.

And an absolute embarrassment to the federal government: current governing regime and opposition parties alike.

We are but an island surrounded by three coastlines – east, west, and north. We celebrate our coastlines, our oceans, our marine environment, our fisheries, and so on. Canada has the world’s longest coastline and a total of 7.1 million square kilometres of ocean.

Yet, as the Royal Society presents in their report just released:

Sustaining Canada’s Marine Biodiversity: Responding to the Challenges Posed by Climate Change, Fisheries, and Aquaculture

 

  • …among industrialized fishing nations, the status of Canada’s marine fish stocks is among the worst in the world.

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  • Researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities constructed an Environmental Performance Index and used it to rank 163 countries on 25 performance indicators, for environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. In this analysis, Canada was ranked 125th of 127 countries in terms of fisheries conservation.

 

[If we ranked this low in hockey, what would be the National response?]

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Here are the “MAIN MESSAGES —SUSTAINING CANADIAN MARINE BIODIVERSITY” available in PDF from the website link above.

  • Canada sees itself as a world leader in ocean management, but we have failed to meet most of our national and international commitments to protect marine biodiversity.

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  • Canada lags behind other modernized nations in almost every aspect of fisheries management. Despite pledges on conservation and sound policies, Fisheries and Oceans has generally done a poor job of managing fish stocks, planning for whole ecosystems and protecting marine biodiversity.

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  • The government should act to review and rewrite outdated statutes, take rapid action on national and international commitments, curtail the discretionary powers of the minister of Fisheries and Oceans and move to limit regulatory conflict in that department.

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  • Canada needs national operational objectives to protect and restore natural diversity and to rebuild depleted populations and species. Improving and protecting ocean health will restore the natural resilience of Canada’s marine ecosystems to adapt in response to the challenges posed by climate change and other human activities.

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Here are some ‘lowlights’ from the report:

After examining the evidence, we conclude Canada has made little substantive progress in meeting its commitments to sustain marine biodiversity. Although Canada has developed and signed on to sound policies and agreements, and heralded good ideas with strong rhetoric, comparatively little has actually been done, leaving many of our national and international obligations unfulfilled.

[hmmmm, does this sound like our/Canada's approach to climate change?]

That can — and must — be changed, starting with the Oceans Act. This 1996 law was a landmark in the move toward managing the oceans from an ecosystem perspective, after decades of focusing on one species or habitat at a time, without regard to the intricacies of biodiversity. Unlike the Fisheries Act, it provided a clearly articulated legislative foundation for marine conservation (an objective no one would even have considered in 1868, when the Fisheries Act was written). It was followed by the Species at Risk Act (2002), which included a commitment to develop legislation for the protection of threatened species.

But neither has lived up to its promise

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In ecosystem-based management, decisions must take into account the sustainability of ecosystem components and attributes. In several jurisdictions, policies and regulations now use this more comprehensive viewpoint.

Effective ecosystem-based management usually involves the “precautionary approach”, which stresses that the absence of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing decisions where there is a chance of serious or irreversible harm. They also set “reference” targets to warn when stocks are getting low and include plans for promoting recovery if a population drops too far.

In contrast to other developed fishing countries, Canada has not adopted the use of reference points. For example, 20 years after the collapse of Newfoundland’s northern cod (once one of the largest fish stocks in the world,) there is still no recovery target, let alone a timeline for rebuilding.

We think that is unacceptable.

One consequence of this lack of initiative is that, among industrialized fishing nations, the status of Canada’s marine fish stocks is among the worst in the world.

In fact, compared to other major fishing nations such as Australia and New Zealand, Canada is moving very slowly on incorporating ecosystem indicators into scientific guidance. Our policies for conservation of wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon, for example, recognize the need for consideration of ecosystem-level.

But they have yet to be implemented.

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Driving reform of the Fisheries Act will not be easy. There is no indication the health of the ocean is a great concern for the present government.

In the Speech From the Throne that opened Canada’s 41st Parliament on June 3, 2011, there was no reference to climate change, species recovery, fisheries rebuilding, or marine biodiversity. Neither the word ‘ocean’ nor ‘Arctic’ was mentioned in the throne speech.

The ‘sea’ was mentioned in the context of a government commitment to complete the Dempster Highway to connect Canada “by road from sea to sea to sea”. ‘Fishing’ was used only in the context of a government pledge to support it and other industries “as they innovate and grow”.

As well, the Fisheries Act delegates absolute discretion to the minister of Fisheries and Oceans [who in many cases couldn't tell the difference between a northern pike and a pink salmon] to make decisions, with no formalized scientific guidelines or environmental framework for them.

That leaves important biodiversity issues open to dictates of passing political concerns and is completely at odds with the best practices of fisheries legislation that supports sustainability, such as in the US, Norway, and Australia.

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Further legislative measures that should be considered to adequately protect marine biodiversity include:

  • Ending the inherent conflict within DFO to promote industry and economic activity on one hand and the conservation of fish and aquatic ecosystems on the other;

[hmmm, anyone who has read posts on this blog has heard this point before -- if you have a federal Ministry with the word "Fisheries" in it... and its central mandate is "conservation"... then there is a problem]

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The preamble to the Oceans Act says Parliament wished “to reaffirm Canada’s role as a world leader in oceans and marine resources management.” This was a remarkable statement, given the Act was passed in 1996, a short four years after the collapse of the northern cod fishery.

That one example of resource mismanagement was not only the greatest numerical loss of a vertebrate in Canadian history, it resulted in the greatest single layoff in Canada when between 30-40,000 people lost their jobs. It also cost $2-3 billion in social and economic financial aid.

But rhetoric over substance too often characterizes the Government of Canada’s handling of its oceans and their marine biodiversity. In contrast to Canada’s self-proclaimed ocean leadership, analyses of Canada’s marine conservation and management initiatives are less than complimentary.

Researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities constructed an Environmental Performance Index and used it to rank 163 countries on 25 performance indicators, for environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. In this analysis, Canada was ranked 125th of 127 countries in terms of fisheries conservation.

Canada has consistently failed to meet targets and obligations to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainability. The government has the knowledge, expertise and even the policy and legislation it needs to correct that; but multiple factors have combined to slow the pace of statutory and policy implementation almost to a standstill.

Those factors, we believe, include the inherent conflict at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which has mandates both to promote industrial and economic activity and to conserve marine life and ocean health. The minister of Fisheries and Oceans has excessive discretionary power to dictate activities that should be directed by science and shaped by transparent social and political values.

Canada’s progress has been unduly slow in both an absolute sense (some commitments have still not been met almost two decades after they were agreed on) and comparatively — other western industrialized nations have made substantive progress in meeting, and often exceeding, their national and international commitments to sustain marine biodiversity.

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Fundamentally embarrassing and disgraceful. Yet saying so with current governing regime will get one labelled a ‘renegade’ or ‘treasoner’ or whatever other empty rhetoric that the Reform Party, err wait, I mean the Conservative party has to offer.

Yet, this is not at the hands of one political party… everyone one of the four main Parties that have been active over the last couple of decades bears a responsibility.

It’s disgraceful.

Hopefully Justice Cohen is reading this and takes a good stab at the issue in this disgraceful situation being afflicted upon Fraser sockeye — and Pacific wild salmon in general on Canada’s left coast.

And media response to this report so far… about all I’ve see is the Vancouver Sun:

Canada’s failure to protect marine biodiversity ‘disappointing and dismaying,’ asserts panel chair

Canada is failing miserably at protecting its rich marine biodiversity from the looming threat of climate change, an expert-panel report for the Royal Society of Canada concluded Thursday.

“Canada has made little substantive progress in fulfilling national and international commitments to sustain marine biodiversity,” the panel report found.

The report noted that the Fisheries Act is beset with regulatory conflicts in terms of protecting and exploiting fish stocks, and the minister of fisheries and oceans wields too much discretionary power.

The report also says the Species at Risk Act has proven ineffective at protecting and recovering marine species at risk, and a promised national marine protected areas network “remains unfilled.”

The application of a “precautionary” management approach with harvest-control rules and recovery plans remains “absent for most fisheries,” the report added.

Panel chairman Jeff Hutchings, a biology professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said the federal government’s lack of action at protecting marine biodiversity is “extremely disappointing and dismaying,” a concern that also applies to management of high-profile Atlantic cod stocks.

“Anybody can see, and anybody can assuredly be bloody angry, that 20 years after the collapse of the northern cod fishery we don’t have a target for recovery,” he told a Vancouver news conference. “How is that possibly consistent with responsible management of our oceans?”

Canada has the world’s longest coastline and a total of 7.1 million square kilometres of ocean — in the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic — amounting to a global stewardship responsibility, the report found.

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Are we going to stand for this?

Hello… anyone?

Once upon a wild salmon…history’s a bitch.

Oregon salmon cannery early 1900s -- Oregon State University archives

 

Randomly came across these photos from the early 1900s. This is “salmon management” at its best. This is what “salmon management” of the day is built upon. This is what “fisheries management” is built upon.

Fish first, manage later… (look no further then the current herring fisheries opening in the Salish Sea, or the soon to be opened sport fisheries on early-timed Fraser Chinook).

Oregon salmon canneries -- early 1900s -- oh the Chinook?

And where did these beauties go?

Was there not a time in British Columbia when the Springs, the Smilies, the Chinook, the Kings… would line up like this?

Ever study economics?

Ever hear of the concept of ‘the law of diminishing returns’?

Here’s a brief little quote from Wikipedia:

The law of diminishing returns (also law of diminishing marginal returns or law of increasing relative cost) states that in all productive processes, adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower per-unit returns.The law of diminishing returns does not imply that adding more of a factor will decrease the total production, a condition known as negative returns, though in fact this is common.

For example, the use of fertilizer improves crop production on farms and in gardens; but at some point, adding more and more fertilizer improves the yield less per unit of fertilizer, and excessive quantities can even reduce the yield. A common sort of example is adding more workers to a job, such as assembling a car on a factory floor. At some point, adding more workers causes problems such as getting in each other’s way, or workers frequently find themselves waiting for access to a part.

In all of these processes, producing one more unit of output per unit of time will eventually cost increasingly more, due to inputs being used less and less effectively. [key point]

The law of diminishing returns is a fundamental principle of economics…

It’s also a fundamental concept within “fisheries” management that they don’t seem to teach at the leading “fisheries” science institutions…

If you keep catching all the ‘hogs’ — the big ones — then eventually there’s going to be little left but small ones…then no ones…

Same thing happened with North Atlantic Cod prior to the big collapse. All the big ones started disappearing and sizes became smaller and smaller and more uniform… diminishing genetic diversity.

Unfortunately, good ‘ol Darwin and his ‘survival of the fittest‘ doesn’t apply when a salmon has no choice about what gill net, seine net, sport hook, or other fishing method catches it. Nor, the obsession of the current human to catch the ‘biggest’ fish…

It did apply though when there was little human intervention… bigger fish, better survival often times, eggs buried deeper in gravel, and so on… more bigger fish, more diversity.

Oregon wild salmon seining -- early 1900s -- Oregon State University archives

Get ‘em out however possible…

these times seem to have largely gone with the days of the "iron chink"... (cannery hardware)

The point here isn’t to lament the past, necessarily — but don’t we ever learn?

Folks of the day also said that whole hog logging, placer mining, building dams, and pillaging the seas and river mouths could all ‘happily co-exist’… no problemo… let’s Just Do It (as a well known multinational company based in Portland proclaims).

Freedom, free enterprise, market economies, maximum sustainable yield… let’s do it.

Is this really all that different then what Justice Cohen just heard for two years at the Cohen Commission into the Fraser River sockeye declines?

Or how about the five previous “commissions” prior to that…?

Same conclusion, most likely… we can’t really conclusively “prove” that these practices damage wild salmon… it’s death of a thousand cuts… change is too hard… don’t rock the boat… (gee whiz, I retire with full government pension in five years, don’t hang me out to dry here…)

And, well… you probably know the rest of the story…

“More European ISA virus detected in wild BC salmon” — 3rd and 4th case

Alex Morton is reporting on her blog results from a lab in Norway. Two more Fraser salmon tested positive for ISA (Infectious Salmon Anemia) — an adult chum and an adult Chinook.

“More European ISA virus detected in wild BC salmon”

Today I received reports from two laboratories.

Dr. Are Nylund at the University of Bergen, Norway confirmed the ISA virus detection by Canadian lab, Dr. Fred Kibenge, in Rivers Inlet sockeye smolts. Dr. Nylund reports he only got a positive in one of the fish and this result was close to the detection limit for the test that he used. In the report below, the higher the value, the lower the amount of virus. He said the sample was poor quality. We are on a steep learning curve here, having never dealt with viruses, keeping the samples in a home-type freezer was not optimal.

Download Report 021111.pdf (22.0K)

I also received the report from Dr. Kibenge, of the World Animal Health reference lab for ISA virus in Province Edward Island, on salmon a small group of us collected in the Fraser River on October 12. Late last week results from this group of tests was leaked to the New York Times and we heard that a Coho salmon tested positive for ISAv. Now that I have the complete report we learn that, similar to the sockeye from River’s Inlet, the Coho in the Fraser River was infected with the European strain of ISA virus. But we see from this report that a chinook salmon and a chum salmon also tested positive.

Download Alexandra Morton Samples (SOCKEYE CHINOOK and COHO)_VT10142001_OCTOBER20 2011.pdf (45.9K)

What does this mean?

While this continues to raise the level of concern that ISA virus is going to cause significant problems in wild salmon in the eastern Pacific, a lot more work is required. Someone has to culture the virus. Once that happens we can learn how long it has been here, and exactly where it came from.

The good news is that the levels of ISA virus detected in all these salmon has been low. While the salmon in my latest collection died before spawning, it is possible that ISA virus was not the cause of their death. Because ISA virus was only detected in the gills of the chum and chinook, it is possible they were only recently infected. The chum was silver-bright and likely just arrived in the river. The Chinook was severely jaundice. Did these two fish just become infected and is that why it was only detected in their gills? Two possible sources would be salmon farms off Campbell River that they had just been exposed to on their in-migration into the river, or did they become infected by sharing the river with the Coho which had ISA virus in her heart suggesting a more system-wide longer infection period – I don’t know. The Segment 6 probe is less sensitive than the segment 8 probe, so while we learned the Chinook and Chum were infected with ISA virus, we don’t know what strain.

If the virus is this contagious that it infected other salmon that had just arrived into the river this does present concerns.

I am not presenting myself as an expert in ISA virus, but I feel strongly there should be no secrecy when it comes to European strain ISA virus in wild salmon. I am on a steep learning curve and feel it is essential that we move forward to:

1 – establish an international board to make sure testing is done in a highly and scientifically defensible manner
2 – establish a BC lab that can culture and test for ISA virus and report publicly
3 – test widely for the virus in the ocean, rivers and lakes and include other possible species such as herring
4 – mandate tests on every Atlantic salmon facility, especially the lake-rearing facilities by more than one lab so that no one lab bears the brunt of this and so the public can take full confidence in the tests

There has been an incredible response from many of you. So many of you have provided funds in small donations that we are able to move forward with revealing where ISA virus is hiding despite the complete lack of response by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Thank you. Thank you also for the people reporting back as to what is happening in your rivers and lakes. I am not at all interested in handing this over to Fisheries and Oceans, nor the Province of BC. I have asked the provincial salmon farm vet, Dr. Gary Marty several times what ISA virus test he did on all the Atlantic salmon he found ISAv lesions in. He had the province of BC’s lawyer answer, providing me with no information. I was hoping I could send samples to him, but I wont without knowing what test he is doing.

I will keep you posted.

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Seems like a pretty reasonable request considering the threat that this virus poses. And from the response coming out of the U.S. — both Alaska and Washington and even down to Oregon and otherwise. It may not be long until there’s an international response.

And I agree with the notion suggested here — neither the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, nor the Province of BC should ‘head’ any sort of committee. They’ve proven their meddle here (as in “To handle something idly or ignorantly; tamper”). This should involve something like the Auditor General or some other arms length third party.

And salmon farmers that are raising — foreign to Pacific waters, Atlantic salmon — should be put on notice that they will be flipping the bill, if they are found to be responsible for importing this virus…

 

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…?

Once upon a salmon… in Oregon… (what we knew then…)

The other day I had a post: Once upon a salmon… in Oregon.

1950s

In that post, I highlighted some information from a 1950s report: Some Factors Influencing the Trends of Salmon Populations in Oregon.

The report focuses on coho runs in certain Oregon streams:

Oregon streams

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The trend of salmon populations and specifically of salmon catches within commercial fisheries was rather familiar… dwindling fast.

The report looked at commercial fisheries catches in Oregon from the mid-1920s on to the late 1940s.

It was clear in the report that fisheries were having an impact… (seems like a bit of a no-brainer…).

The report also looked at: Other Potential causes such as:

Pollution?, Hatcheries?, Logging?, Waterflow?

Remember this report is from 1950.

Factors dismissed: Pollution and Hatcheries (most were still quite small at this point).

Factors implicated:

Negative factors

_ _ _ _ _ _

The report paints a pretty clear picture of the impacts of overfishing and logging — and in turn the impact of logging on waterflows.

Logging impacts... "disturbance of ecological balance"

“… resultant erratic flow patterns, silting, increased water temperatures, and general disturbance of the ecological balance…”

Remember this was 1950…

For those in BC who know some of the fisheries history — this was well before the Fish Forest Interaction Program (FFIP) of the 1980s… this was well before studies began in earnest in Carnation Creek on west coast Vancouver Island… that was well before the BC Forest Practices Code arrived in the 1990s. This was before Greenpeace was even ‘Green’ and the “peace” movement was not yet active.

This was when David Suzuki was probably still in grade school… and David Bower hadn’t yet started his rage against dams and facilitating growth of the Sierra Club in the U.S.

John Muir was probably about the only prevalent “conservationist” “tree-hugger”… and he’d been dead awhile…

Here is chart comparing the trends in salmon catch  to the production of lumber board feet in Coos Bay, Oregon through the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.

lumber production to salmon populations

I’m sure someone will want to argue that this is coincidence and that correlation is not causation and so on…

And well… folks did argue against this report. There is transcribed conversation at the end of the report, that really is quite revealing.

“Discussion”

I guess Mr. A.C. Taft from California didn’t understand that part about: “… resultant erratic flow patterns, silting, increased water temperatures, and general disturbance of the ecological balance…”

Logging companies

So Mr. Riddell is fronting the age-old argument… “you can’t really tell us here that overfishing could in fact be an impact…? there must be other factors…”

Then Mr. Glover from California… “do you think changing logging practices would make a difference…?”

Ummm, gee, there’s that curious part about: “… resultant erratic flow patterns, silting, increased water temperatures, and general disturbance of the ecological balance…” again…

Hard bit of info to pick up…

Then there’s the question by Mr. H. D. Fry, Jr. “hey… could you explain that point to me again about how intensive clearcut logging and increased water flows are related…?”

Hmmmmm….

Same answer many folks have provided for generations…

Trees are giant sponges. An average tree, especially an old-growth Douglas Fir absorbs and retains an incredible amount of water that falls from the sky. That water is then retained from suffering the full effects of gravity and raging down hillsides through the point of lowest resistance — stream channels. More water running down hillsides means erosion, mudslides, raging debris torrents, etc.

Trees hold hillsides up and stream channels up.

Take the trees off hillsides and very little is holding all that soil on that hillside. Add in 5-9 metres of rainfall, snow, melting snow, and the worse rain-on-snow events, and what happens?

 

just "natural"

 

west coast of Vancouver Island near Brooks Peninsula

more Seattle Times photos -- 2009 (...salmon stream...?)

I think the point is clear…

The main point of all this is that for well over 60 years we have known what impacts salmon populations.

In Oregon, folks knew in the 1950s that overfishing and logging were decimating salmon populations and in turn decimating salmon fisheries and in turn decimating coastal communities.

Unfortunately, overfishing and overlogging carried on in the Coos Bay area for quite some time after this rather clearly worded report.

Have you been to Coos Bay, Oregon lately?

It’s a nice area, however last time I was through the downtown was gutted with more “for lease” signs then business signs.

The population peaked around 15,000 people in the 1970s and hasn’t changed much since.

Is the story of Coos Bay and salmon and logging — all that different then say any Eureka, California or Port Angeles, Washington or Port Alberni, BC or Port Hardy, BC or Port Clements, BC… or Port Edward, BC… or… or… or….

And yet it doesn’t seem to matter what local knowledge says in these communities. Folks have been sitting there ringing alarm bells saying: “this is not sustainable, this pace cannot be maintained, our communities won’t survive this…”

“This is boom-and-bust…”

“We are upsetting the ecological balance…”

And the response is: “sit down and shut-up you darn tree hugger…”

“don’t rock the boat…”

“if we stop now we will impact the economy…”

and so on, and so on, and so on…

_ _ _ _ _ _

Well… where’s that booming fishing industry now…? Where’s that booming logging economy?

Where are those things that apparently “built BC…”?

And… where the heck are the salmon?

_ _ _ _ _ _

The response… (and no offence to the hard workers involved)… in British Columbia… is another multi-million dollar public inquiry involving lawyers, scientists, and know-it-alls sitting there asking the same questions… looking for the same magic bullet that is not us… some magical coincidence of ocean conditions or climate impact…

And on the other side of the equation, a slew of panels of experts, saying the same thing… “we just can’t say for sure”… “we just don’t know”… “it’s just all so uncertain”…

And the same people and institutions that were on deck to watch the sinking of the wild salmon ship… testify, trying to prove that they didn’t know what ‘sinking’ looked like… or that they believed ramming harder into the iceberg was going to right the ship… not sink it…

No one will admit that they didn’t know how to bail… or simply didn’t want to…

And anyone that suggests: “well, look at this… we harvested the crap out of them [salmon] for close to a hundred years with no respect for small or weak stocks or other species (e.g. mixed stock fisheries)… we nuked the crap out of their freshwater habitat… we are still dumping sewage and all manner of synthetic drugs and compounds into the key areas where they make their adjustments to saltwater as juveniles and freshwater as adults…

…and we’ve systematically changed the climate within a generation, which changes water flows, speeds up glacial melt, and assists in devastating habitat impacts through beetle infestations and otherwise…

and anytime any population demonstrates any sort of population blip to the positive we insist on returning to the old habit of harvesting the shit out them…

Would we treat our households this way?

Would we treat our household finances this way? (oh wait, some do… but then there’s this thing called bankruptcy…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

And worse yet, the institutions mandated to ensure the future of species like salmon and all of the individual runs — is basing decisions on decades old information.

For example, the numbers that guide how many Chinook should be reaching the spawning grounds in the Fraser River is based on numbers devised in the 1980s. Things have changed a little since then… there may be a few more challenges for those fish to face, so should we maybe not be getting more fish onto the spawning grounds…?

If I planned to run my household on a 1980s reality… would that make sense?

If Jack Layton of the New Democrat Party (NDP)  in the current Canadian federal election ran on the same platform of as NDP leader Ed Broadbent of the 1980s — would something not seem a little off… or fishy?

_ _ _ _ _ _

Fundamental changes are required in our relationship with wild salmon…

And not one based on: how many can we catch?

The story that starts: Once upon a salmon

…finishes with the predictable ending of a fairy tale… its just that this one isn’t a positive fairy tale ending… and it’s not a very good fish-story… more of a grim Grimm’s tale…

It generally ends in:

when I was a kid I can remember walking across that river on the backs of salmon… there were soooo many fish, the river was alive with the sound of slapping tails and slithery, fishy movement…

And now, we’re lucky to see a pair of spawners

Fraser Chinook — “Recipe for Extinction” website

Saturday’s Globe and Mail had the following advertisement on page 2 of the B.C. section:

The accompanying website is here.

Recipe for Extinction

3 cups of Department of Fisheries & Oceans inaction.

1 cup of refusing to close marine sport fisheries impacting Fraser River early-timed Chinook.

1 cup of lowest amt of spawners since 1975 (in 2007, parents of this year’s run, less than 2000 Chinook returned).

1 cup of only 500 spawners the 2009 returns to Nicola River & tributaries (estimates suggest there needs to be 20,000 spawners to sustain any harvest).

1 cup of chasing the last fish…

Mix vigorously with lack of political will to protect habitat and enforce the Fisheries Act.

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Can’t say I disagree… this is a Recipe for Extinction. Here is a graph from a Department of Fisheries ‘death by PowerPoint’ presentation last year.

Fraser early-timed Chinook survival and exploitation rate

Chinook 4-2 refers to a group of Chinook stocks that spawn largely in the Thompson River, most in the Nicola River watershed. The “4″ means these Chinook are 4 years old when they return. The small “2″, refers to how many years these fish spend in fresh water as juveniles.

The graph above shows the estimated exploitation rate of these Chinook (% of total estimated run size — this is the percentage on the right hand side) overlaid on the estimated survival of these Chinook (% of adults returning — this is the percentage on the left).

The boxes in the graph represent the survival rate. You can see that the survival rate is decent in the mid to late 1990s and then it becomes a train-wreck

With the exception of 2004, the survival rate has generally been less than 1%.

But do you see a problem?

_ _ _ _ _ _

That dark black line is the exploitation rate of these populations. In 1998, the rate is way down, somewhere around 20% — most likely due to the heavy coho protection that year (e.g. 0% Coho exploitation — 0% mortality).

But after that, the exploitation rate more than doubles. And in fact missing from this graph is 2009 — exploitation rate: 53%.

An almost tripling of exploitation rates in just over ten years.

But wait… do you see the survival rates?

They fell by 8 – 9 times.

So survival falls by multiples of 8 to 9… and exploitation rates triple

…and this on populations that are already in deep trouble. Even DFO numbers suggest that this population needs at least 20,000 fish to sustain any exploitation… those sorts of numbers haven’t been seen in decades.

[This is also a good example of how you use graphs to skew data - the black line looks so innocuous in comparison to the boxes]

_ _ _ _ _ _

Do you see the last bullet point circled in pencil?

Sustainable exploitation rates currently estimated at 8 – 11% range for low survival period; populations declining at current exploitation rates.

Worse yet, in 2007 — the parents of this year’s returns — were some of the lowest returns seen since the mid-1970s with less than 2000 spawners…

And yet… and yet… just like last year, marine sport fisheries for Chinook have been open 24-7.

Pre-season forecasts for Chinook 4-2s this year are brutal; and there won’t even be confirmation of approximate run sizes until the Albion test fishery starts this month. Meanwhile, coastal-marine sport fisheries have been open for months while these fish arrive from their ocean migration and head up to the Thompson River.

(First Nations on the Fraser voluntarily closed Chinook fisheries last year, and are again this year — even though DFO insists on keeping those fisheries open as well…)

Hmmm… I think maybe this is why it’s called a Recipe for Extinction.

The website has a “Take Action” page…

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When salmon folk lose touch…

You can't be serious...?

Sometimes when one is doing research on wild salmon, salmon ‘management’, salmon conservation, salmon rehabilitation, and the like… one may come across things that bring pause, and an occasional head shake…

Today, I was searching around for information on Chinook salmon. My path led me to the Pacific Salmon Commission; a place I often land in my salmon searches. Specifically, my search led me to a report titled:

Development of the Technical Basis for a Chinook Salmon Total Mortality Management Regime for the PSC AABM Fisheries. February 2011

(It’s down the right hand column of the home page… and only 218 pages).

I tend to be someone who often advocates for “meaning what you say and saying what you mean“. I have varying degrees of success at this, but always looking to improve.

One of my intentions for this website/weblog is to try and present a variety of views on salmon — specifically wild salmon and our rather tenuous relationship with them.

And so when I read a title that suggests that we are looking for a ‘technical basis’ to manage Chinook based on “total mortality”… it does leave me puzzling. Did we manage based on ‘partial’ mortality before?

Well… we based on AABM… which translates to “Aggregate Abundance Based Management“. I won’t get it into it now, but in essence, the AABM means we fish less when Chinook stocks are in trouble and more when they are in good shape.

I know… rocket science.

Part of the problem is that it is done by “aggregate” meaning based on groups of Chinook stocks up and down the coast (Alaska, BC and Washington) that have potential spawners counted through various methods… various methods of accuracy…

There is also ISBM, which is “individual stock-based management” where information from individual stocks is considered when making fisheries decisions.

The move to TM based fisheries… and no that’s not “trademark” as in:

“this is our fishery management regime… TM“.

It’s “total mortality”.

From what I can see it means that Chinook catch numbers will now also include undersize Chinook or otherwise that may incidentally die in fisheries. Some types of fisheries are permitted to keep undersize or otherwise fish (e.g. some net fisheries) — other aren’t (e.g. sport fisheries) and thus undersize or oversize have to be released.

Or in the case of sport fisheries, when there is an imposed limit — say 2 Chinook a day — one person in a boat may ‘limit out’ first, yet keep fishing. If they catch a bigger fish then the two their keeping for their limit, the smaller one goes overboard “for the seals”.

(this isn’t the case with all rec fishers, however, as one myself, I’ve certainly seen it happen often enough)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

As the Commission report describes it:

The TM management regime would estimate catch and the associated incidental mortality (IM) in a fishery, and constrain the fisheries based on defined limits to TM rather than LC [Landed Catch].

… [Total mortality] is the sum of the landed catch and the associated incidental mortalities from fishing…

Hey, now that makes sense, less try and account for all the fish killed in fisheries as opposed to just what shows up at the dock (e.g. canneries or otherwise)…

In other words, it’s sort of like a full accounting for what military folks like to call “collateral damage”… or that other innocuous fisheries term “by-catch”.

Almost all fisheries have size restrictions, so one can imagine the number of undersized fish caught, for example, in commericial troll fisheries… and by the time an undersize fish has been swinging around on troll gear for a awhile, it’s probably not going to do too well when it’s “released”…

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For your pondering:

In 2009, the total commercial troll Chinook catch in Southeast Alaska alone was almost 176,000

Seine Chinook catch was over 54,000 and

Sport Chinook catch was over 69,000

With a total Chinook catch in Southeast Alaska just under 300,000

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In northern BCover 75,000 Chinook caught in commercial troll fishing.

34,000 in sport fisheries.

On West Coast Vancouver Is. … commercial troll over 58,000 Chinook caught.

Sport fishery over 66,000 Chinook.

So throw in another 230,000 Chinook caught (or so).

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Not included here is the Juan de Fuca, Salish Sea/Georgia Strait, or Fraser River mouth catch numbers. Not much going on their commercially, but lots of sports fisheries.

Total 2009 Chinook catch numbers — on what the Commission calls ISBM fisheries — was almost 205,000 with over half of those caught by sport fisheries (approx. 116,000) and First Nation (approx. 53,000) the rest was test fisheries and commercial.

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The estimated “Incidental Mortality” (IM) — e.g. numbers not included in these numbers — appears to be estimated at close to 10%.  (…coincidentally, about the same approximate percentage of Chinook catch in BC, by First Nations…e.g. 12% as compared to the approximate 50% caught by sport fishers )

(And remember, much of these number are based on raging estimates)

Sport fisheries are only covered by creel surveys (e.g. interviews with fisherfolks) and estimates suggest about 10% coverage, as well as fly overs to count boats…

Ever dwindling though, due to funding cuts to Fisheries and Oceans monitoring and enforcement budgets.

So throw in another 70,000 (at least) dead Chinook into the equation.

(that’s almost the entire Fraser River Chinook run in some years…)

_ _ _ _ _ _

So some of this “Incidental Mortality” stuff begins to make sense once the glaze is peeled back from one’s eyes in trying to read mulit-hundred page documents that have an executive summary that reads like this…

Pacific Salmon Commission Chinook Tech docs

I think I spent more time scrolling back to the Acronym guide… and my new ‘techno-bumpf’ translation app.

However, here’s my favorite part:

The CTC also formed a Total Mortality Work Group (TMWG) in 2003 to develop the technical analyses and approaches necessary to implement total mortality regimes. The TMWG made substantial progress on methods for translating the relationship between nominal landed catch and the abundance indexes (AIs) for AABM fisheries into TM units, but was not able to complete the work due to lack of consensus on the interpretation of the TM language in the Agreement.

The “CTC” is the Chinook Technical Committee within the Pacific Salmon Commission… of which there are 32 people.   I’m not sure how many of those reached “total mortality” to become part of that working group…

Maybe another name might be appropriate…?

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However, this incredible depth of scientific analysis, techncical committees of over 30 people for one species of salmon, and so on… certainly makes one start to ponder “what is being spent on total mortality working groups…” which largely guide “fisheries”?

As opposed to trying to design: “how do we get as many fish onto the spawning grounds as possible — working groups

how do we avoid having to go to capital expensive, concrete-laden, long-term expensive hatchery options… which often do more damage then good — Working Group

And… “how do we make sure those fish have healthy habitat — Working Group

Salmon for the forests; forests for the salmon… shocking…

Globe and Mail image

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Health of salmon run affects ecosystem of forest

I’m appreciative of the most recent Mark Hume article in the Globe and Mail.

However at the same time, it’s rather exhausting that these sorts of things come to light so slowly.

I tell the story often…

…when I was growing up on Haida Gwaii, I spent an immense amount of time fishing; largely for Pacific salmon. Coho, humpies, the odd Chum (Dog), and from time to time Chinook. Whenever we brought fish home, we had generally hiked them up the river on an alder branch broken off a tree nearby the closest “meathole”. Generally, we would clean the fish once we got home. Our mom told us for years to bury any heads and guts in the garden, but deep enough that some dog or cat wouldn’t dig them up.

Fertilizers of all sorts are generally made out of fishmeal — and in years gone by were a central component. Industrial fisheries in some far-away ocean grinding up some little fish on the ocean food chain to turn it into cheap fertilizer.

So if fishmeal, fish guts, and fish heads are good fertilizer in a garden — why they hell wouldn’t they be the same in the forest?

Indigenous cultures have been saying this for eons — “everything is connected.”

Ever look at a west coast totem pole… everything is connected.

Ever look at west coast, or even interior art… (you guessed it… everything is connected).

_ _ _ _ _ _

So says the article:

When bears, wolves and other animals drag salmon carcasses from spawning streams they cause an intricate chain reaction that changes the nature of the surrounding forest, according to new research from Simon Fraser University.

Plant species that efficiently take up nitrogen from the decomposing bodies of salmon flourish – and soon there are more song birds, drawn by the dense growths of wild berry bushes and prolific insect hatches.

“The shift in dominance of some of these plant species was a lot more dramatic than I frankly had expected. Species like salmon berry it turns out are really well named. They tend to dominate in streams that have a large number of salmon,” said Prof. Reynolds, who oversaw the research project which was led by Morgan Hocking, a postdoctoral fellow.

In addition to looking at plant species, Prof. Reynolds said it is important to consider the physical characteristics of a stream as well, because animals avoid fishing in places where getting out of the water with a salmon is difficult because of steep banks.

“If it is a small stream and has shallow banks, then there is a lot better chance that the plants will be effected by the carcasses, because these are more accessible to bears,” he said.

I’m certainly appreciative of the research by Reynolds and Hocking. I’ve read quite a bit of their research before and it’s great to see some of it going a bit mainstream.

This is an image from Dr. Tom Reimchen’s lab at Uvic. It’s kind of ‘techie’ and scientific; however shows the same connections — or more like has been showing these connections through ‘scientific’ channels for quite some time.

Salmon enter the near-stream environment from bottom stage left, and become food, nutrients, energy for a pile of critters. (make sure you glance at the date: 1994)

"nutrient vectors"?

And well… what to our wonder…

Apparently salmon depend on the forests of the stream ecosystems they swim up to spawn and then often (for some species) spend several years in as baby salmon.

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An article just the other day from the Atlantic Salmon Federation:

Boreal Forest Water Vital to Atlantic Salmon

OTTAWA – A first of its kind report by the Pew Environment Group reveals that Canada’s boreal, the world’s largest intact forest and on-land carbon storehouse, contains more unfrozen freshwater than any other ecosystem. As United Nations’ International Year of Forests and World Water Day coincide, world leaders are grappling with water scarcity and pollution – and scientists are calling boreal protection a top global priority.

… [because Canada's Boreal Forest]:

  • contains 25 percent of the planet’s wetlands, millions of pristine lakes, and thousands of free-flowing rivers, totaling more than 197 million acres of surface freshwater;
  • provides an estimated $700 billion value annually as a buffer against climate change and food and water shortages;
  • offers the last refuges for many of the world’s sea-run migratory fish, including half of the remaining populations of North American Atlantic salmon.

“A first of its kind report…”??

Maybe for the Pew folks… but certainly not a unique idea. (as i’ve mentioned before… marketing is everything; everything is marketing).

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And so really… what all of this is saying is… if we’re going to do true “Ecosystem-Based Management” we better really think about the entire spectrum of ecosystems, and the endless interlinked relationships… and we should probably be cautious and use precaution because we might mess up a delicate balance…

But have no fear I tell you… because over ten years ago (1999) the Department of Fisheries and Oceans devised this incredible draft concept: Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy. One of the central components of that Policy was to be “Ecosystem-based management”…

How are we doing?

Utter failure.

Have you seen the allocations of salmon for species other than humans?

Like maybe Species at Risk Act (SARA) listed Resident Orcas in the Salish Sea that depend heavily on Fraser Chinook as a food source, or dwindling Grizzly Bears, or starving eagles?

_ _ _ _ _ _

And south of us… have no fear, I found on the Pacific Fishery Management Council website that there is a sub-committee of a Committee holding a sub-Panel of a Panel to devise a Plan…

Sounds promising, let me tell you.

Ecosystem-Based Management Subcommittee of the Scientific and Statistical Committee and the Ecosystem Advisory Subpanel to Hold Work Sessions to Develop recommendations on an Ecosystem Fishery Management Plan

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene meetings of the Ecosystem-Based Management Subcommittee (Subcommittee) of the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the Ecosystem Advisory Subpanel (EAS) that are open to the public.  Please note, this is not a public hearing; it is a work session for the primary purpose of considering recommendations to the Council on the development of an Ecosystem Fishery Management Plan (EFMP).

I don’t mean to be the can of fish asshole today… but come on!

are you kidding?

I’m really not sure what an “ecosystem fishery” management plan is… isn’t that what we all do… go fishing in an “ecosystem”?

The Subcommittee session will focus on incorporating ecosystem science into the Council management process.  The joint session of the Subcommittee and the EAS will focus on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s California Current Integrated Ecosystem Assessment [take deep breath]. The EAS will also discuss available science and its potential application with the SSC and will develop recommendations on the EFMP’s purpose and need, regulatory authority, and management unit species for the June 2011 Council meeting in Spokane, Washington

(I’m not making this stuff up… true quotes)

I just don’t understand why they don’t form an advisory subsubcommittee (S2C) that will integrate a framework that will inform the sub-Panel of the Board of the Directors recommendations to the post-science, pre-conference, strategic planning sub-Group — which will in turn provide a background matrix and risk-management scaffolding to guide regulatory management and authority of that sub-species, pre-migratory, complex habitat, ecosystem-based, policy informing database and ecological modeling platform.

Maybe that’s why Dr. Reimchen’s work has never been officially incorporated into Department of Fisheries and Oceans “ecosystem-based management” policies. He must not have been on the sub-committee of the sub-Panel reporting to the EBM Board at the DFO…

But hey… thank ghad… there is contact info for the upcoming gathering down south:

For further information regarding the ecosystem-based management advisory subpanel and subcommittee work sessions, please contact…

… Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to … at least five days prior to the meeting date.

I, by no means fault the effort to provide access to individuals with disabilities — that’s important everyhwere… I’m just wondering if they’ll have “translation” services available. I think that could be a mandatory “auxiliary aid” for any of these salmon processes.

I was a at a conference in Portland, Oregon last year and there were translation services for Japanese and Russian participants — several times I was looking for the translation services for gobbledeegook, bumpf, bureaucratese, ‘science-chatter’. I’m sure some folks have been looking for these services at the Cohen Commission looking at declines [aka crash] of Fraser salmon in 2009…

It’s a disease… or a bumpf-ease… could one be so bold as to say “plain language might save the wild salmon”?

And maybe a return to a thousands and thousands of years old understanding… salmon are essential to forests; forests are essential to salmon.

“Everything is connected; connected is everything…”

Fish assholes?

are you kidding?

Have you ever seen such a thing?

I thought it a hoax of sorts until I searched online and found this:

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German style?

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I’m curious about how this would be as a “main dish”?

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This also seemed a fitting accompaniment… “side dish” if you will for another “once upon a salmon” tidbit.

This one comes from 1983 an “Ocean Law Memo” from the University of Oregon in 1983. Came across this randomly online.

The troubled Pacific Salmon Treaty: why it must be ratified

ocean_memo_24_1983

did we learn?.

Yup… I think this is referred to as the classic: “Tragedy of the Commons”.

If I don’t catch them, those fish assholes over there will… so why conserve?

_ _ _ _ _ _

Next sentence?:

And so for years, Alaskans caught Canadian-bound salmon.

BC fisherfolks caught US-bound salmon.

And each side would retaliate against the other and try their best to be the biggest fish assholes, especially on trans-boundary rivers.

And who paid the worst price?

Well… the fish of course

(and the multitude of First Nation communities that depended on those annual returns).

And which fish got hammered the worst?

Well, Coho and Chinook are sure in deep trouble in a lot of places:

Chinook loss -- 1983. Do we ever learn?

And so here we are… 28 years later… and things look worse… much worse.

What are we now… 1000% below optimum?

And really, with all the threats such as urban expansion, climate change and the like… what is optimum “escapement” (spawners) now?

Is it double what it was in 1983… triple… quadruple?

And yet here we are in Canada faced with yet another multi-million dollar ‘review’ of “fisheries management”.

What possibly could have gone wrong?

Let’s search the culprits, the hypotheses, the theories, the ‘science’… what possibly could have gone wrong…?

“It just doesn’t make sense…”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Who the ffff…

fruitcake

are we trying to fool here?

We fished the shit out of them for over a hundred years, stuffed more salmon in little aluminum cans then ever thought imaginable and sold them on the cheap.

They were an “endless resource”.

Nuke this stream, then just move up the coast.

Nuke that stream, then just move down coast.

Are there not enough abandoned, empty pilings rotting in the ebb and flow of Pacific tides to remind us of “WHY”?

Why?

 

Are we really going to continue to talk about dividing salmon right up until the last two are swimming upstream?

Look around the world… the history of “fisheries management” over the last 100 years, is an absolute f-in failure.

There’s a reason why the United Nations makes declarations to go to war… alongside: stating in no uncertain terms that fisheries around the world are in dismal shape.

Why?

Because wars and collapsing fisheries result in similar outcomes… dead and dying people; dead and dying communities; rubble and ruin.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Who are the real fish assholes?