Yesterday the Pacific Salmon Commission confirmed what many figured would probably be the case in the first place… the forecasts for Fraser Sockeye were blown… AGAIN.
Yet, the Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans and PSC will carry on about how predictions are a tough business, etc. etc. And that if we look closely at the end of the season that the returning numbers of Fraser sockeye to the mouth were actually in their 25% probability range.
Here’s the newly adopted in-season run predictions for Fraser sockeye from the PSC’s Friday news release:
in-season Fraser sockeye run size predictions ala Pacific Salmon Commission
The real blown part of the ‘forecast’ is in the Summer runs grouping – Again (the ‘groupings still a problem in themselves). Appears that things were missed by close to half (circled in dark blue near the middle of image). The overall result is a difference of pre-season prediction of close to 5 million (circled in orange) and a current in-season estimate of just over 2.6 million (circled in red). However, we still don’t have an in-season estimate on late summers, which are going to be hooped if river temps stay anywhere near where they are. Chances are good as the temps in the lower Fraser have been climbing steadily all week.
Here’s the PSC narrative on that:
Record Fraser River temperatures. Aug. 9, 2013.
The “management adjustment” is the WFU factor.
(We F’ed Up and now our ‘management’ kicks in – factor).
The best part of all this is the language that the PSC uses to try and explain themselves out of this:
Tthe stocks have “experienced below average total productivity relative to the historical”… Hmmm.
Wasn’t this the year of the return of the 2009 Fraser sockeye run that was the lowest ever on record and was a completely blown forecast from 10 million predicted by the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans in the pre-season?
Wasn’t this the progeny of the 2009 run that motivated the unprecedented some-$26 million judicial inquiry – the Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser sockeye? (which remains unimplemented).
Not to mention that it seems fisheries managers are suffering from a classic philosophical problem – the problem of induction. Old English philosopher Bertrand Russell explained it well in the early 1900s – basically calling it the turkey problem.
See the turkey, a few days before Thanksgiving, sees the farmer walking across the farmyard carrying a unique glittering thing. The turkey figures, “oh whatever, our beloved farmer is just coming to feed us, like she has for the last 500 or so days.”
The turkey suffers from the classic problem of induction… because that day figuring all will be like history has suggested: e.g., farmer arrives, I get fed. Unfortunately, it has suffered from a classic error. As not long after this thought that its feeding time (again), like every day in turkey memory before that… it loses its head. And off to market and some happy family dinner table.
Russell used the example that classic human folly suggests we believe the sun will rise tomorrow just like it has for the last however long – yet… there is a chance that it won’t. But we continue to believe in the “historical time series”… That will do us little good the day that the sun does not rise in the way that it has for the last several millenniums. The Black Swan event, as some call it.
The problem with this thinking is that the historical time series is only part of reality – however fisheries managers put an immense amount of stock in it… and then get burned, like they are this year (again), and come out looking like turkeys, or at least being painted with that bad feather brush.
Time for things to change – as the Skeena and Fraser Rivers and many others… have been warning for quite some time.
Seems like another year of blown Fraser sockeye forecasts… maybe it’s not the runs that are ‘lower than expected’ and more that we can expect most forecasts to be higher than the runs expected?
News Release from the Pacific Salmon Commission today – below. Not only was the forecast wrong, the Fraser River is smoking hot – over 20 degrees Celsius (water temperature that is). With current weather forecasts and low flows, don’t imagine this will be getting any better any time soon.
And yet, the $26 million recommendations from Cohen Commission have disappeared like a PMO Chief of Staff…
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The Fraser River Panel met Tuesday, August 6 to receive an update on the migration of Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon and review the status of migration conditions in the Fraser River watershed.
Although the migration of Fraser sockeye through the marine approach routes to the Fraser River has increased in recent days, it is still considerably lower than expected. This is primarily due to the lower than expected migration of Summer-run through the marine approach routes to-date. At the meeting today, the Panel approved an increase in the run size estimate for Early Summer-run sockeye from 400,000 to 452,000 fish. Their 50% migration timing through Area 20 is estimated to be July 22, which is one day earlier than expected. Current assessments suggest that the abundance of Summer-run sockeye is either lower than forecast or their migration timing is much later than expected. An in-season assessment of Summer-run sockeye abundance should be available by later this week.
The proportion of Late-run sockeye migrating through the marine assessment areas has increased over recent days.
DNA analyses continue to indicate that Fraser River pink salmon currently comprise a small proportion of the pink salmon presently being harvested in marine area test fisheries, which is consistent with the later marine timing of Fraser pinks relative to Washington and Canada South Coast (non-Fraser) pink salmon stocks.
On August 5, the Fraser River water discharge at Hope was 3,150 cms, which is approximately 26% lower than average for this date. The temperature of the Fraser River at Qualark Creek on August 5 was 20.5 degrees C, which is 2.8 degrees C higher than average for this date. Sustained exposure of sockeye to Fraser River water temperatures in this range may cause high pre-spawning mortality.
Doesn’t sound or look or feel like things will be improving for Fraser sockeye any time soon. Good thing taxpayers flipped a $26 million bill for a thousands of hours of lawyers, ‘biologists’ and a judge’s time…
And those that care about salmon… most definitely do not want to hear about Fraser Chinook this year… (some of the worst numbers on record in ‘test fisheries’ and yet some sport fisheries remain open for them… go figure…)
Solving salmon mysteries — the real reason Fraser sockeye disappeared in 2009
“When an apple ripens and falls — what makes it fall? Is it that it is attracted to the ground, is it that the stem withers, is it that the sun has dried it up, that it has grown heavier, that the wind shakes it, that the boy standing underneath it wants to eat it? No one thing is the cause.” – Tolstoy, “War and Peace”
Fallacy of the single cause… or the ‘smoking-gun fallacy’. Several years ago Tracy Chapman sang about it: “Give me one reason…”
After the near-global financial meltdown of 2008, the explanations of causes began… Alan Greenspan, fiscal policy, investors, leveraged-funds, greed, etc. etc. Pundits, journalists, economists, world leaders and advisors, and every other somebody-wanting-to-be-somebody pondered the reason for the collapse.
There is no ‘ONE’ reason.
Yet… it seems that we now may have a $25+ million investment in the Cohen Commission with Chapman singing the theme song: “Give me one Reason”.
(and no, this is not ‘give me one reason’ to actually implement the recommendations… that’s a different story)
All of this to explain the ‘collapse’ of 2009 Fraser River sockeye.
Yet, could we not have done the same for the record run (for some areas of the watershed) the next year: 2010? Why not study the ‘record’ up, as well as the ‘record’ down… would that maybe not explain more as opposed to trying to find a ‘smoking gun’ for the collapse.
If we did a $25+ million judicial inquiry of the record-run the next year – what would we be looking for? What would be the analogy…? the ‘fertilizing gun’…?
Was the entire issue with the Cohen Commission that maybe everyone used the wrong analogy?
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What do both of these events prove: a record collapse followed by a record run?
(sound like stock markets anyone? of course, government pundits and leaders will tell you that the stock market runs have been all about the government intervention and ‘stimulus’… )
What does 2009 and 2010 tell us about Fraser sockeye?
That we, and the ‘managers’ charged with ‘managing’ wild salmon – don’t really have a clue. Like the pundits that try and predict stock market rises and falls based on illusions of some factor or other… we don’t really know what’s going on – yet, if we stick to the ‘averages’ from some 100 years of tracking, that will probably provide some sort of illusion of prediction…
Like financial markets, and various other fields, ‘predicting’ salmon runs comes down to chance – the ‘illusion of skill’ pervades…. and that if we just spend enough money, on enough ‘experts’ we will come up with an answer – THE ANSWER.
…he’s brilliant, funny and fearless and tackles consequential topics. What are the limits of science? Of understanding and prediction? Given our limited ability to know and control the world, how should we live our lives? How can we prosper in spite—and even because—of life’s vicissitudes?
A former derivatives trader, Taleb made his reputation by bashing conventional economics and finance, but his scope has always ranged far beyond Wall Street. His Big Idea is that life inevitably serves up surprises, or “black swans”–from AIDS and nuclear weapons to the 9/11 attacks and the internet—that our necessarily retrospective models of reality cannot foresee.
…Here is how he sums up his message in The Wall Street Journal: “We should try to create institutions that won’t fall apart when we encounter black swans—or that might even gain from these unexpected events… To deal with black swans, we instead need things that gain from volatility, variability, stress and disorder.” That is what Taleb means by “antifragile.” He offers some suggestions for achieving antifragility in government, business and other spheres: “Think of the economy as being more like a cat than a washing machine.” “Favor businesses that learn from their own mistakes.” “Small is beautiful, but it is also efficient.” “Trial and error beats academic knowledge.” “Decision makers must have skin in the game.”
Learning to Love Volatility: In a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way, we must learn to benefit from disorder, writes Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Several years before the financial crisis descended on us, I put forward the concept of “black swans“: large events that are both unexpected and highly consequential. We never see black swans coming, but when they do arrive, they profoundly shape our world: Think of World War I, 9/11, the Internet, the rise of Google.
I also recommend Taleb’s earlier book from 2007, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The review on Amazon sums it well:
A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.
This certainly sounds like the 2010 return of Fraser sockeye… the big one. And in turn the ‘collapsed’ run of the year previous.
There are some pretty good YouTube clips of Taleb speaking. He’s known to be volatile and unpredictable at times. In one of his calmer appearances, he has a great comparison between plane crashes and bank failures…
He suggests that when a plane crashes, generally people die – however, we learn from those crashes, which in turn reduces future plane crashes.
Yet when big banks crash and fail, we don’t learn from those events and in fact, more big banks fail more regularly.
Taleb suggests, as the handwritten quotes above suggest, that we spend far too much time and resources trying to predict things, that we can’t in fact predict.
Hmmmm. like salmon runs? for one.
And two, predictions of how many salmon can be caught from those badly predicted run sizes… yet retain the ‘health’ and ‘resilience’ of these runs, or collection of salmon runs which comprise the Fraser sockeye runs?
And so on, and so on.
We know that the concept, and formulaic practice of determining Maximum Sustainable Yield in fisheries is a highly failed, flawed, and screwy model. It should be banished, yet it still dominates ‘fisheries management’…. [see free E-book in right hand column]
…that term in itself a misnomer… it implies we can ‘manage’ the fish, and in turn the ‘fishers’ that target and bonk them… the latter being somewhat more ‘controllable’… ‘manageable’….
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Wading through Justice Cohen’s reports, evidence (or lack of…), and 1000+ pages makes me think of Taleb’s quote above: ‘the limit is mathematical, period, and there is no way around it on this planet. What is nonmeasurable and nonpredictable will remain nonmeasurable and nonpredictable no matter how many PhDs you put on the job.’
And like banks and politicians — no one is held accountable for making bad or wrong predictions based on complex spreadsheets and formulaic equations. As Taleb essentially asks: what if we held scientists accountable, would we continue to get the same bullshit models and faulty prediction regimes? He suggests that far too few ‘predictors’ and ‘spreadsheet makers’ are ever held accountable for their ‘predictions’.
What if fisheries scientists and predictors and prognosticators were held accountable for their predictions? and risk models? and so on…?
Would we all of a sudden see a massive simplifying of this ever-increasing ‘science’ which is not really a ‘science’. Similar to economists, fisheries scientists can predict future salmon runs with as much accuracy as the prognosticators predicting where financial markets will close next Wednesday…
So why do we continue to waste millions and millions of dollars on faulty science, predictions, consultants, law professionals, and so on.
As has been pointed out in recent posts, and many past posts, wild salmon inhabit far too many vast areas (e.g. the North Pacific) of which we will never, ever be able to make accurate ‘predictions’ about. So why flaunt and flit about suggesting that we ‘understand’ things that we don’t…
It’s kind of like lying on one’s resume then getting the job, or taking performance enhancing drugs for decades and yet maintaining innocence, or lining one’s own pockets or those of their friends while an elected politician…
“Our track record in figuring out significant rare events in politics and economics [and natural systems] is not close to zero; it is zero.”
Assessment of the evidence
In the field of law, lawyers and judges ask whether the evidence led at a trial “proves” the case. In a civil trial, the plaintiff must prove his or her case on the balance of probabilities – that is, the judge or jury must be satisfied that the plaintiff’s version of events is more likely than not true. In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the accused’s guilt to a much higher standard – beyond a reasonable doubt.
In this Inquiry, I have not conducted a trial, and in relation to making findings of fact regarding the causes of the decline, it would not be appropriate in my view to apply either the civil or the criminal standard of proof set out above. Rather, I use terms that express likelihood or degrees of certainty to describe the strength or weakness of the evidence, as did many of the authors of technical reports and other witnesses who testified during our hearings. (pg. 103)
The good Justice suggests in the 2nd volume:
It is not, in my view, a matter of choosing one potential cause over the other [for Fraser salmon declines]. Given our limited understanding of how the many identified stressors actually affect Fraser River sockeye and how regional processes affect many different sockeye stocks, prudence dictates that neither be ruled out.
The available evidence has identified a risk that both Fraser River–specific stressors and region-wide influences may have contributed to the long-term decline. Regrettably, that is as far as the evidence takes me. However, there are things that can be done to fill in knowledge gaps and progress toward finding cause-effect relationships.
Sadly, I think this is the great mis-guidance of our time… as well as a great contradiction. Plus a ‘limited evidence trail’ that cost some $25 million to write up.
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Here’s a true “cause-effect” relationship… Catch Fraser River sockeye, bonk on head, dead fish.
Cause of death: catching and bonking…
Effect? Dead fish.
Not complicated. Quite simple really.
‘Climate change’ and Fraser sockeye? Human-altered salmon habitat and large salmon run declines?
Well… the ‘arguments’ for this will rage until the last sockeye comes home… and… well… moo’s like the cows that came home too…
And thus there’s all this legal talk by the good Justice of “available evidence” as well as the complex, Donald Rumsfeld (Dubya Bush’s former Secretary of Defense) ‘absence of evidence, not to be taken as evidence as absence‘, etc. As aren’t we essentially looking for ‘weapons of mass destruction’ of Fraser salmon…?
But what about ‘presence of evidence’ to be taken as ‘evidence of presence’? (well that may be likely or probability is high… and enter other wiggly, slippery words here…)
Climate change is one of those sticky ones… sure the ‘climate’ is changing… but is that ‘climate’ as in the entire global — if so, how do we prove or proof the evidence? Is there evidence of presence… like on a criminal trial burden of proof? or a civil? or Justice Cohen’s ‘probably likely’ tests used in these reports? [and no offence intended, this is a complex subject… higher burdens of ‘proof’ or ‘evidence’ would have meant no report.]
When it comes to climate change, these are debates raging around the world, with deniers and climate change gurus alike. My point is not to pick a side… but to point out the obvious… if we humans (especially those esteemed peer reviewed scientists) can’t even agree that climate change is occurring or not, and that human activities are the cause, or at least accelerating what may be occurring naturally since the last ice age…
…then how are we having these theoretical discussions about theoretical impacts on things like ‘Fraser sockeye’ — from the ocean to the natal stream…?
And how do we separate out the historical reality that during the last big glacial advance, say some 10,000 or 12,000 years ago… wild salmon barely existed between north of the Columbia River and somewhere in Alaska and the Yukon (e.g. Beringia)… theories suggest some salmon were living as far south as areas in Mexico during the big glacial advances.
If that’s the case… then wild salmon have done just fine re-colonizing after cataclysmic events… And if that may (or may not) be the case… then do we really need to spend $26 million (or so), largely on lawyers, legal realm experts, and supposed ‘salmon experts’ (who essentially bickered with each other and ‘their’ research agendas) — and trying to implement a slew of recommendations that will probably cost some $500 million or so to actually implement…
[Note: completely theoretical number… disclaimer… i’m not a government economist prone to making grandiose economic predictions…like fighter jet cost budgeting…or niggling about cliff diving off the famed Fiscal Hills located near Washington, DC]
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See it’s commentary such as this – below – that drives me batty:
Only a few studies have explored the relationship between temperature and survival of immature sockeye salmon in the open ocean.
Oh, Ok…. so if we do more studies on the temperatures of the North Pacific and the ‘relationship between temp and survival’… we’re going to be able to better manage the relationship between ourselves and wild salmon?
Hmmmm. Let’s ponder that…
salmon… North Pacific… survival… temperature…
so are we measuring the temperature at the surface… 5 ft down… 15 ft down… (I know that whenever I swim in the North Pacific temperatures can range dramatically in a 30 ft radius, especially if there’s whales peeing in the area…)
How about where in the North Pacific…? it’s kind of big…
Survival…? Hmmmm. How?
Or better yet… how, accurately? Or wait… is it precision…?
… or accuracy…?
We can’t even get accurate counts of spawning salmon in a river 20 feet wide… and say 10 feet deep… let alone an ocean some several thousands of km wide and miles deep… full of salmon… well… from all across the Pacific Rim…
This is akin to trying to accurately measure the water displacement in my bathtub when a speck of dust lands in it… or better yet, tracking that speck of dust from my bathtub drain, some 800 km upstream of the mouth of the Fraser River, downstream, out to the Pacific, and how it impacts a gray whale migrating from Baja Mexico…
Page 77 of Volume 2 report:
During the evidentiary hearings, Dr. McKinnell testified that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections for future climate are difficult to represent in terms of the finer-scale climate, such as climate changes that will occur in British Columbia and what the response of the marine ecosystem will be in the northeastern Pacific Ocean.
These consistent theories that suggest developing more theories, devised by professional theorists, will assist in devising a theoretical ‘management’ strategy (aka theory), implemented by more professional theorists, adhering to the initial theorists’ theories to catch theoretical salmon… just doesn’t hold a lot of water. Especially, when it’s all said and theoretically done… the Minister still has the unfettered power to overrule the theorists and make decisions that make more sense to the other professional, practitioning theorists… the economists.
So no matter how much we continue to debate, argue, protest, whine, snivel, shout, cry and kick&scream and then delay doing things… because of absence of data… or… is it absence of evidence… or is it evidence of data absence…
No… it’s ‘high likelihood’ and certain certainty or is it just likelihood and certain evidence… likelihood of data absence, or evidence of data likelihood…?
ah, I can’t remember… however, one things for sure… if you’re in the salmon theorizing field (and it’s a pretty small one) chances are pretty good that your job security, or research contracts are looking pretty decent.
Oh wait… under the current Canadian governing regime, only if it’s researching fish that supply a ‘fishery’…
Likelihood that the evidence of absent data gets filled in near future by present evidence and theory…? Low.
Likelihood that $$ continues to be wasted on theoretical processes that result in preconceived, unfettered decisions…? High.
Likelihood that even if evident data gaps got filled with evidence and data-gap filler, that our ‘management’ of salmon fisheries, salmon habitat, and slowing ‘climate change’ or ‘climate change impacts’ will occur…? Low!
A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.
“An absence of data, or an absence of evidence to me is not evidence of absence, and I think it’s a little bit dangerous to use an absence of data or an absence of evidence to suggest that contaminants play no role whatsoever or are indeed unlikely to play a role.
…but clearly we’re data deficient in terms of our current capacity to understand what’s happening with the sockeye situation”
So… ummm…. Is it data deficient, or deficient data?
And… does evidence presence mean evidence is in the present… or how about if the President’s evidence is present… Or, absent? Does absence of the President’s evidence mean we have data absence, or data presence, or data presents (like cigars and interns)…?
Is not the absence of data, itself… data? Or is absent data, presence of data absence or just simply absence? What if data absence, become data presence – does that make us wiser? If data absences become data evidences, was not the gap also evidence, or simply evident, or clearly evidents — leading to the gap? If the gap is filled, what becomes of it?
A gap filled, or a filled gap?
Does our “knowledge” really have ‘gaps’…? But aren’t the gaps, still knowledge? Is a gap filled; make better knowledge presence? But still yet, what becomes of the gap?
Is the epitome of all gaps, to become filled, or full-filled… or maybe only half-filled… or is it half-empty? (a half-empty gap, says the pessimistic scientist…)
(I feel for the gap, says the empathetic scientist)…(All i want for x-mas is a tooth-filled gap, says the hockey-playing scientist)
What if a gap filled, in fact, becomes a bigger gap — in knowledge, or evidence, or presence, or absence? What then…
But what of the gap between our reality and our dreams? What becomes of that gap – when filled…?
(Here lies “THE GAP” will say the gravestone… “mighty and gaping in its presence, sad and lonely in its absence.“)
But wait… i can hear the copyright police calling now… …And I will say, I did not know “THE GAP” existed… that is the evidence in my defence… And yet the presence of “THE GAP” in my utterance, is my present offense.
…and they will tell me, as Justice’s well know, ignorance of the law is not a valid defense, and thus stop the pretense.
…and thus the gap in my knowledge will be a detriment, and not a defence… and here evermore absence of presence (e.g. knowledge) becomes a downfall… yet… that absence is still data… data used to prove presence of absence as evidence…
But, what if data abstains in its absence, and in its presence presents evidence?
Does absence of presents present mean conclusively that presents are absent, or simply lacking presence — or is absence of presents due to Santa’s absence? But if Santa is present, reality is absent — isn’t it? (but thankfully, still presents… if you remain a believer)
Yet if reality’s absent, what is mentally present? Mental absence, may mean data presence – but is that data present, and is it a present? In reality’s absence for some, it may become Not criminally responsible which can mean mental absence – says the judge and jury. And, so… to the convicted, evidence of mental absence is the defence of present – some might argue…
Is the data reliable, or simply pliable… like all data that is present or absent. In the present defence, as explained above, presence of absence is the key (e.g. mental). However, with Fraser sockeye salmon, some say it is absence of evidence for ‘smoking guns’. But… for the Province… evidence absence, means the smoke stays in the guns…
If it is absent — data that is — then that does not indicate lack of presence, or presents, or simply pre-sense. Maybe… it seems… it simply means current absence, not abstention. But if data abstains, is it not present? Or is it simply taking a break, or somewhere south, ‘taking the fifth’?
If it’s broken, is it a gap? If there’s a gap does our decision-making wait for presence — or the presents that come with absence of datum?
If there’s a gap, and nobody is looking, is it still a gap? Is it data? Does data only exist when someone is looking? What if they only see in one eye? What if they are near-sighted… is it far-out data? Or far-sighted… is it near-data?
What about data that is right on the 200-mile offshore marker – is it Canadian data, eh? Or is it international data, da? Who owns it? Data is valuable, no? Are gaps, therefore, worthless data, or simply data worth less?
But some gaps are essential and priceless, like the gap that exists between you and oncoming traffic…
And, yet, what is a data gap, and gaping data – but is not data made up of datum… oh wait, it’s more…
Datum, say some, is simply nothing more than “an assumption or premise from which inferences may be drawn.”
Ohhhh… so presence of inference, does not imply absence of assumption – it actually means presence of premise, and presence of assumption. But assume does not indicate a present to the law, nor to the convicted… assume is a danger because as the old ditty goes: it makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”…
And so we Houston, BC may very well might have, very likely presence of a problem or absence of a solution…likely, or may have…highly probable, but debatable…
Further, according to Dr. Ross, contaminants very likely contributed to the long-term decline in the sense that they may have contributed through small incidents here and there (i.e., “death by a thousand cuts”) or theymay have weakened the fish over time, such that when they went to sea they may have been more vulnerable.
death of a thousand cuts – Cartoon drawn at the beginning of the Cohen Commission in 2010…
And there, in that last fragment we have the great ecosystem killers of “very likely” and “they may have“3
Now pardon the cynic in me, but wasn’t the “Terms of Reference” for Justice Cohen and the Commission:
C. to investigate and make independent findings of fact regarding:
I. the causes for the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon…
Last time I checked, “may have” and “most likely” were in the ‘absence of evidence’ or simply ‘evidence absence’ category within the legal realm, let alone the factual realm.
Orwell concludes well:
If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy… Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind…
Do we honestly think that we can gain ALL of the evidence from this realm?:
Map from Cohen report: Fill ALL the data gaps?
Here is Justice Cohen’s language in the ‘decline of Fraser sockeye’ from Volume 2:
Life stage 1 findings
I find that there are plausible mechanisms during the incubation, emergence, and freshwater-rearing parts of life history stage 1 by which numerous freshwater stressors, such as effluent, contaminants, predators, warming streams and lakes, infectious diseases, agriculture, and surface and groundwater extraction may have contributed to the decline.
Although these mechanisms are understood, there is insufficient evidence about the actual impacts these stressors, either singly or cumulatively, have on Fraser River sockeye during this life history stage.
These mechanisms are understood, but “actual impacts” is not? And “may have” contributed…
Are we wanting these issues of great, grand ecosystems to look like the ‘mechanisms’ of a bank account…?
As in, “well, mr. salmonguy you say that you ‘may have‘ deposited money to your account, however, we can clearly see that you did not…”
Ecosystems like the North Pacific, or even the Fraser River watershed are mightily complex, complicated, and largely unpredictable entities.
Fraser River watershed
Are we humans expecting that we will delay doing something about certain issues until the evidence is present? Or that ‘findings of fact’ are what is required for action to be taken so as to limit our impacts on other things?
The decline of Fraser sockeye is not due to some unknown entity… We, humans have delivered a good solid 95% + of the “thousand cuts”…
Us. You and Me and Dupree and the other 6 billion+ living souls.
And yet, even if the apparent mechanisms and “actual impacts” slept in the same bed of meaning and ‘understanding’… what would we really do about it?
Wait for the scientists to agree…?
First we’d have to wait for scientists to agree on which knife was delivering the cuts… or wait, was it an axe… no, it was a machete… no, it was a handsaw…
And the salmon farming industry scientist would probably say “what cuts?”
Then we’d have to wait for the proposed ‘solution’… but no, first we’d do that as a ‘pilot study’… then a new government would come into power and cut the funding, and implement ‘their solution’… then some scientists would need to use whistleblower protection and hire security guards, then the Auditor General would get involved, then there’d be a snap election, then there’d be a call for a judicial inquiry… then a court case or two, an appeal, a new government, a fiscal cliff, austerity measures, a bull market, a bear market, a new government… a new scientific discovery… then space travel would take funding priority, then government “Action Plans”, then another review of spending, another court case… and so on and so on.
… go back to top, read again, and rinse and repeat if necessary… (that is if you believe that little ditty on shampoo bottles… ‘rinse and repeat’…).
And if you do then the productivity of Proctor and Gamble will increase a heck of a lot faster then any Pacific sockeye population…
I see evidence of absence that anything is going to change anytime soon… just simply start by doing a rough calculation on the ‘cost’ of Justice Cohen’s recommendations, and this is just for FRASER SCOKEYE – not the other Fraser salmon populations, like the endangered Fraser coho or Chinook… and let alone the other five species of salmon spread throughout BC.
Like every other collapsing fish population with a ‘commercial value’… we will argue, bicker, and use useless language until the last viable population swims into the annals of “was”…
data gap: “Any missing data that impairs your ability to meet your project goals”… what are our project goals?
Oh where, oh where, did Justice Cohen’s report go?
It came with a bang on Halloween Day… and went out with a whimper by Christmas…
$25 million or more spent. 1000+ pages. Some hard-hitting recommendations. Will Justice Cohen’s multi-million dollar work simply become one more Data Gap?
Justice Cohen suggests in his lengthy report:
There are still many aspects of the Fraser River sockeye life cycle about which little is known. Many stressors have been identified, including predators, climate change, infectious diseases, human development, contaminants, municipal wastewater, pesticides, harmful algal blooms, salmon farms, hydroelectric projects, interaction between wild and enhanced salmon, and the effects of agriculture, forestry, and mining. We still have a lot to learn about the relative detrimental impact these stressors actually have on sockeye and their habitat.
This lack of understanding about actual effects applies not only to individual stressors but also to cumulative effects (e.g., the combined effect of contaminants, disease, and warmer waters on the health of a fish) and to delayed effects (e.g., a contaminant or pathogen picked up during the outmigration leading to mortality during the return migration). I therefore recommend that further research is crucial to understanding the long-term productivity and sustainability of Fraser River sockeye salmon… (Volume 3: page 101)
Or, this is one of my favorites:
Many of the researchers participating in the Commission’s research program encountered difficulty in locating and obtaining access to relevant data. In some cases, different organizations had collected data on the same issue but had used incompatible databases.
Justice Cohen suggests in his Recommendations:
When an independent body, such as a commission of inquiry, makes recommendations to a department of government in accordance with the mandate given to it by the Governor General in Council, a degree of accountability for those recommendations should follow.
… maybe all some folks were wanting for x-mas was a judicial inquiry with some real (two front) teeth…
That accountability thingy appears to be coming a data gap too…
Map from Cohen report: Any data gaps?
As does the gap in filling the gaps… e.g. nothing like trying to fill the North Pacific with ‘understandings’ and ‘data’…
Does more data really make us ‘better managers’? (of anything…)
Say for example… financially…
We know that credit card debt with high interest rates is BAD. Or at least carrying a balance at high interest is Really BAD. Yet the average Canadian (this is individual, not household), non-mortgage debt is over $26 000 with credit card debt, the worst kind at an average of over $3 500 per.
Yea… we probably need more data to better manage our collective debt loads…
MORE DATA = BETTER MANAGEMENT, BETTER DECISION-MAKING, BETTER OUTCOMES…
My suggested equation is a little different:
(X) BETTER CARE OF SALMON HABITAT = ONLY FIGHTING CHANCE FOR WILD SALMON IN FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE.
(Y) BETTER ‘MANAGEMENT’ OF SALMON = LESS POLITICS, MORE SENSE
(Z) NORTH PACIFIC = UN-FILLABLE DATA GAP
More science, more data, more research will not lead to better decision-making.
Healthy salmon populations, and therefore healthy ecosystems in which they inhabit, require simple things. Clean, cool water, clean gravel, and lots of salmon having lots of salmon sex.
Then lots of salmon babies need a pretty clear and clean path to the ocean, and back.
one might wrongly assume that "deterrence" is the reason...
It has been a little while since I’ve had to do two posts in one day… however the news on the wire today regarding the Harper Government assault on fish, fisheries, coastal communities and so on — is impressive.
The graph above comes from information presented at the Cohen Commission into Declines of Fraser River sockeye.
It also comes from a press release put out today by Otto Langer an over 30-year DFO staffer, and even longer-time award-winning, fish biologist.
Here are some lowlights of the apparent Harper Conservative plan to sneak a gutting of the Fisheries Act on to the back of the upcoming Budget Ombnibus Bill.
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Langer's Fisheries Act historical summary
Here’s the current reading of Section 35 of the Fisheries Act — pretty clear and to the point, yet still challenging to prove in court…:
current Section 35 of Canada's Fisheries Act.
Here’s the new weasel-word, bumpf-filled, ambiguity-laced — giving Ministerial fettering to everything — language that is trying to be sneaked in without consultation with anyone:
New Reform... ahhh... i mean Conservative government weasel words proposed for Fisheries Act.
As Langer points out in his press release:
The newly drafted provision [35(1) above that takes out ‘habitat’ and adds ‘fish’] legislation is not intended to protect fish habitat in any matter whatsoever.
Langer’s anecdote to this is great… he remembers a time when DFO used to hand out pens at conferences and such that said:
NO HABITAT, NO FISH!
Fitting close to the press release:
nothing like a 'neutering' to ruin your day...
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In closing this pathetic state of affairs and ongoing shitshow at DFO… (and other areas of Canada)…
One could look at the graph above and suggest to Mr. “tough-on-crime” Harper that it seems crimes are going down everywhere… even in the destruction of fisheries habitat.
Look at this wonderful graph proving the ever effective crime-fighting tactic of: DETERRENCE.
Must be that Fisheries Act violations have just got so nasty and onerous for polluters that the need for investigations is dwindling, and deterrence is working….
Somehow I doubt it.
48 convictions in 1998 down to 1 conviction in 2008.
This is called a gutting of staff, balls, and teeth — and most sadly, destruction of fish habitat, especially wild salmon’s, at an alarming rate.
This also means an enforcement and compliance division within DFO that probably feels about as proud of their job as a child labourer putting together those blue jeans you’re wearing…
Nothing like job security, meaningfulness, and pride to really make a Ministry sing with glee…
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Goal for Harper and his Reform buddies… 0 [zero] convictions, under the Fisheries Act.
Let’s get tough on crime, everybody…
(or fish, i suppose, depending on which way you look at it).
Plus, I was just wondering (in reference to the ‘proposed’ amendments) … ummm…
…which “fish” does not have an “ecological value“?
And could somebody please show me the legal definition of “ecological value” or even ‘economic’ or ‘cultural value’ for that reason.
That’s the point.
This is about as gray, fuzzy, and blurry as that Hawiian highway was for Gordon Campbell back in the early 2000s. [oh right, it was his personal holiday… not government business]
Translation…. 0 convictions.
(and tarsands expansion, and pipelines rammed down BC’ers throats, and more fracking, and so on and so on.)
Hold on to your hats, here comes George W. Bush Canadian-style. (sans the required apology… “oh sorry, excuse me new NDP leader” says PM-bully Harper…)
Think the Fisheries Act is going to get neutered… well… this ain’t nothing yet (under this ‘majority)… going to be a whole lot of current legislation losing their balls… going to be an all out choir fest.
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And just to really ruin your fishy day… take a look at most recent post at Alex Morton’s website:
She had Atlantic salmon tested that she bought at 3 B.C. supermarkets (most likely Vancouver Is.)
Five of them tested positive for ISA [infectious salmon anemia].
Yet, the Feds, DFO, the Province and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency continue to deny that ISA exists on the BC coast.
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Oh wait… I can hear the response from Harpers PMO office…
“ohhhh…. you mean thatISA… we thought you were talking about a different ISA…(like the cartoon character from Dora the Explorer… or something..)”
ISA from Dora the Explorer
…oh yeah, we’ve actually known that that ISA… that nasty salmon thingy…has actually been here for decades… probably since the last Conservative majority (the real Conservatives… think Mulroney, and Clarke and stuff…) …sorry for the confusion, everyone…”
[Harper (whispering): “hey Ashfield, somebody go muzzle a scientist or audit an enviro-terrorist organization or something…”]
It is estimated that 80,000 Canadians make their living or a portion of their living directly from fishing and fishing-related activities. But current practices and regulations, along with a challenging global market, are increasingly restricting the ability of Canada’s fisheries to contribute to Canadian prosperity in a changing economic climate.
Well… if close to 40,000 of those Canadians do not possess the literacy skills required to meet day-to-day demands of life — then how the hell are they going to wade through the hundreds and hundreds of pages, PowerPoint slides, pathetic YouTube videos of PowerPoint slides, and webpages to adequately “comment” and be adequately “consulted” on an issue that affects Canadians from coast to coast to coast?
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And as mentioned in that post, I was going to expand on this issue of low literacy in Canada, and true democracy.
You know that ‘democracy’ espoused by so many ‘western’ politicians these days that has its roots in the ancient Greek meaning of the word:
from Greek demokratia “popular government,” from demos “common people,” originally “district” + kratos “rule, strength”.
Good ‘ol, government rule for the people, by the people and so on and so on…
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I was then going to do a little map for the sheer number of documents that one would need to read in relation to this apparent ‘modernization’ plan, simply to be able to adequately comment on how all the pieces apparently fit together…
… in other words, translate the ‘bumpf’ and bureaucratic-speak…
When I went back to the DFO website to try and find all of these documents, I found this:
Ooops... how embarassing... "not found"...
Gee… is the DFO website in this area crashed because of the sheer number of people visiting the day before the apparent… slash that… the second try at a deadline for comments, which is apparently tomorrow, March. 14, 2012??
Oddly, this is still at the DFO website (this is another screenshot):
still there... no links to actual document...
But there’s no documents available anymore, no links…
… other than links to the “consultation” page.
One can still go provide their comments on the ‘modernization plan’, which isn’t actually on the website anymore, in the little defined, limited boxes:
consultation on a non-existent document...?
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So I guess DFO subversively blocked my webpost today…
I was going to ask the question: how does consultation occur with the ‘people’ that comprise ‘democracy’ if close to 50% of them do not have the literacy they require for day-to-day life and jobs — let alone commenting adequately on hundreds if not thousands of pages of DFO documents and proposals?
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But… today, a day before the deadline for comments… ummm… literacy is not the issue…
… as there’s no document to read.
… slipped into the electronic ether… or just pulled off the site by DFO?
I’ve provided an edited cover though…
do a web search with the title of this document in it: “the future of Canada’s commercial fisheries”…
from east to west on Canada’s coast, people are pissed off.
Hmmm… wonder if that has anything to do with the mysterious document disappearance?
the DFO shitshow
maybe the songwriters or poets out there can gets started on a catchy diddy on this one:
Hey, ho… we’re DFO… we don’t know,cuz we’re a shitshow. Hey ho, what do you know,about the DFO shitshow.consultation… blaahhh.modernization… yeehaaah.
New name at DFO: "Department of Fisheries and Profits"
A new name has yet again been adopted by the ‘Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ in Canada.
It will now be called the: “Department of Fisheries and Profits”.
Cutely referred to in Ottawa (about as far from Canada’s fishing industries as one can get) as DFP.
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The image above is from a recently released ‘discussion paper’. From what Google suggests, this document was posted in mid-January 2012, quite quietly apparently. Some groups, such as First Nations in BC just had it sent to them in the last few days.
The deadline for comment on this paper — which doesn’t actually really have anything of substance to “comment” on is Feb. 29th (less than a week from now).
As PM Harper likes to say… this is an “aspirational” document.
With next to no substance. In other words… salmonguy words… this is a bunch of fluff, bumpf and BS.
It’s also a schizophrenic document that contradicts itself at several points — however, the one thing that it makes abundantly clear: Canada’s fish populations are for economic prosperity first.
The sustainability section comes up on page 18 of 28… just after the “Prosperity” section.
This is the same Commission that essentially forced DFO to shut down in the Pacific Region and dedicate itself to defending and justifying itself and it’s actions since the last five or so Fraser River sockeye commissions, reviews and so on….
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Let’s take a quick tour inside of DFP’s latest: “aspirational document”:
Isn’t this just the cutest thing…?
Rather than using the old business term “bottom line”, the clever writers and designers of this fancy document used “the top line” — so many double meanings & entendres…
They’re so cute there at DFO (like Harper and his scratching the $10 million panda bear in China).
But let’s get right to it.
This comes early in the document… and here we have it as highlighted above:
…create a business environment conducive to economic prosperity
So let’s not shy away here. Let’s just get right to it.
Canada’s Department of Fisheries & that Other stuff. (DFO) is very much now about ‘maximizing profits‘, ‘economic prosperity‘ and ‘good business environments’.
Fishless oceans could be a very real possibility by 2050.
According to the UN, 30 percent of fish stocks have already collapsed.
One billion people, mostly from poorer countries, rely on fish as their main animal protein source.”
“If the various estimates we have received… come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish,” Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program’s green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.
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So, yeah… let’s get Canada’s fisheries harvesters: “to self-adjust”, as suggested in image quote above:
what does "self adjust" mean?
Ummm, DFO… errrr… DFP… what exactly does “self adjust” mean?
Does that mean when estimates suggest population is down, then fishers should stop harvesting?
Or… does it mean, if market says: “we need more fish!” that we just keep harvesting?
Which takes priority — resource fluctuations, or market demands?
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Curiously, the online free dictionary offers this definition:
Self-adjusting: Capable of assuming a desired position or condition with relation to other parts, under varying circumstances, without requiring to be adjusted by hand.
Now this definition refers to machines and such, but it’s decent one to run with here — since DFO provides no definition of what this actually means.
If you’ve read older posts on this site, or simply look up the etymology of “manage” or “management” it comes from Latin “manus” which means hand, and maneggiare “to handle,” especially in relation to horses.
(or… I suppose, in this case, fish harvesters…)
So, management, has to do with handling others (such as horses, or people fishing, or through other regulations). Or… should we also be thinking about the good old Adam Smiths’: “invisible hand of the market” — which refers to ‘self regulation’…
As some online definitions suggest: Smith’s invisible hand refers to an “important claim that by trying to maximize their own gains in a free market, individual ambition benefits society, even if the ambitious have no benevolent intentions.”
Hmmm. Sounds like the history of fish harvesting on the planet.
I don’t think people fishing for a living, or simply fishing for food for their family have “no benevolent intentions”… many may actually be very conservation-minded (I know several). However, it’s simply a numbers game. We have taken far, far, far too many fish over the last century and more, and in the meantime nuked fish habitat.
See along with dancing Adam Smith and his invisible hand is dour Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons.”
Doesn’t “self regulation” and “tragedy of the commons” kind of go hand-in-hand… you know… like do-si-do (prounounced doe-see-doe) your partner in square dancing…?
Nothing like: ‘Self-regulating your own tragedy‘
…which we will all have in common,
as will our grandkids….
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Bottom line on the “top line” folks, when it comes to the future of Canada’s fisheries:
Prosperity... folks... prosperity
This is page 14 (of 28) so right in the middle of the document.
But read carefully: essentially, and I paraphrase. There are “restrictive licensing rules” and economic prosperity is limited…
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Similar to this thought, comes from Page 7 of the document:
"management needs to change"
You know, I couldn’t agree more with the “patchwork manner”.
The 'mystical', mystery, "Wild Salmon Policy"
I’ve shared this image far-and-wide.
I was involved in early consultations on DFO’s… errrr… DFP’s “Wild Salmon Policy” in the late 1990s when it first started as an “aspirational” document.
And… well… we’re still “aspiring”…
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And so continuing on…
The document above suggests:
“decision are often made ad hoc instead of in a structured, strategic way…”
and, apparently: we’re having trouble “maximizing economic benefits” for the fishing industry.
Hmmm. I don’t imagine overfishing and mis-guided policy drivers such as “maximum sustainable yield” over the last century have anything to do with our fisheries issues these days…?
OH, BUT WAIT…
Here it is… don’t worry… I found it at the back of the document:
"Sustainability" the biggest, mean nothing word of the new millenium...
… DFP (formerly DFO) is going to be “supporting sustainable fisheries”…
It’s just on page 18 after the section on “PROSPERITY”…
You know… prosperity now… sustainability later…
Here are the words of wisdom on: “Sustainability”:
"Sustainability"... the great fluff word of the 21st century
Look it says it, right up there…
“sustainability is a top priority“… there’s great things like “precautionary approach” and “ecosystem mangement”…
(All of which simply exist to maximize those “threatened POTENTIAL economic gains”…)
only problem… just like the document says… “DFO has developed and begun implementing”…
If we’re just beginning, only just “begun”… then we might have a problem…
However, no worries mate, we now have “established a solid foundation for sustainable harvesting moving forward”…
didn’t you just state earlier in the document that “fisheries management needs to change”…?
That fisheries decisions are made ad hoc, non-strategically, and non-structured…?
That the industry is inhibited?
That profit is not maximized?
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So who was responsible for that?
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Oh wait… the same ministry that wrote this document…
How is it that Canadians, and the international community (of which Canada is signatory to agreements), are supposed to trust a Ministry that blatantly contradicts itself in its own “aspirational” documents?
This is rather ludicrous…
The document contradicts itself, this ministry continues to contradict itself.
This federal Ministry is a:
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It’s also completely SCHIZOPHRENIC (and no offense intended to those suffering from this mental illness).
This type of document describes things as if it wasn’t actually THIS Department of Fisheries and Oceans that is responsible for how things used to be done.
(DFO says: “no, not us”)
It was a different DEPARTMENT… it was THAT department over there…
(“them… yup… them over there”…)
(said as they point in the mirror)
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Last time I checked, many of the same people I dealt with in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans ten years ago… are still the same people in the organization… just that they’ve been promoted…
The simple, “stick around long enough, we’ll promote you” policies of government ministries (apologies to those senior gov. managers that do not succumb to the Peter Principle…)
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OH… wait… just wait…
you can go comment on this ‘aspirational’ document at the DFO website.
Yes, you too, can participate in this shenanigan called “public consultation”…
They’ve helped you out, they ask you to comment on the following questions, and I quote directly from the site (and these are the only questions that are asked online — isn’t it great this whole digital public consultation thing… they’re so helpful…):
DFO would like your input on the current web of rules that governs how commercial fisheries are managed.
Section #1 – Economic Prosperity
DFO would like your input on the current web of rules that governs how commercial fisheries are managed.
Are there any rules you would consider obsolete given today’s economy and current management approaches?
Section #2 – Sustainable Fisheries
Canadian commercial fisheries have gained considerable experience in managing bycatch and discards over the years.
Does the proposed Policy Framework on Managing Bycatch and Discards provide adequate guidance on how to address bycatch and discards in Canadian fisheries?
[sorry, we just slipped that little “web of rules” comment in there… that’s not misleading in the least… not even subliminal hints for one second…]
[cuz no one likes being caught in a “web of rules” do they?… this isn’t leading the witness in the least… says the judge]
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There’s little boxes for you to fill in… (so helpful).
Apparently, the sustainability of Canada’s fisheries only deal with “bycatch”…
Wow, please, someone recommend a gutting of this ministry.
You simply cannot be a “Department of Fisheries” and yet be responsible for conservation and preservation of actual fish populations.
It’s a contradiction in terms. Killing fish is not ‘conserving’ them, nor ‘preserving’ them.
Not that killing fish is bad, I like to eat them too, but I’d like me kids to be able to eat them too…
It’s just propaganda like this is fundamentally exhausting.
Still doubting that ‘marketing is everything and everything is marketing…’?