Tag Archives: escapement

Once upon a salmon: “reducing fishing pressure … to rebuild diminished runs”

Carrying capacity? (circa 1977)

Notice the tag line on this photo: “Carrying Capacity?”

This is from the 1977 publication: “Pacific Salmon Management for People”.

Pacific Salmon Management for People

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And yet another image from this book should have the same tag.

Massed gill netters -- Fraser River

As I’ve pointed out in other posts related to this book, the 1977 conclusion states:

To tackle the complex questions of salmon management… highly sophisticated techniques of simulation and decision-making are being evolved… Laymen, and scientists whose experience is in other areas, must take these techniques largely on trust. We are in the hands of technocrats… Certainty is elusive.

One reason for this is the prohibitive cost and difficulty of obtaining precise initial information; another is the yearly variability of freshwater and estuary environments; yet another is the urgency of many managerial choices which dictates that partial evidence must suffice. Misjudgements and errors, then, are likely. Science is to be trusted, but scientists nevertheless make mistakes. The science, as the thalidomide children would remind us, may not be complete.

Ah yes…

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And yet in 1998, a paper emanating out of the University of BC: IMPLEMENTING THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE IN FISHERIES MANAGEMENT THROUGH MARINE RESERVES by Tim Lauck, Colin W. Clark, Marc Mangel, and Gordon R. Munro seems to be pretty clear on a certain issue:

Overexploitation of marine fisheries remains a serious problem worldwide, even for many fisheries that have been intensively managed by coastal nations. Many factors have contributed to these system failures. Here we discuss the implications of persistent, irreducible scientific uncertainty pertaining to marine ecosystems. When combined with typical levels of uncontrollability of catches and incidental mortality, this uncertainty probably implies that traditional approaches to fisheries management will be persistently unsuccessful.

The main gist of this paper is the idea of marine reserves — and idea which is not foreign to the world of wild salmon, with the proposition of wild salmon reserves (at least in their freshwater environment) becoming more common.

The paper continues:

Suggestions for improving the management of marine fisheries have not been in short supply. We will not review here the long history of discussion of the ‘‘problem of overfishing,’’ but will concentrate instead on the implications of uncertainty in fisheries management.

We take as an underlying assumption that fishery declines and collapses result in large part from overfishing, that is to say, from a level of fishing intensity that is excessive in terms of maintaining a sustainable population and fishery. We nevertheless recognize that changes in the marine environment are also often involved in the decline or collapse of any particular fishery.

Levels of catch that may be sustainable under normal or favorable environmental conditions may prove not to be sustainable under abnormal conditions. Many fish populations that have suddenly collapsed under intensive exploitation had presumably persisted for thousands of years in spite of fluctuations in the marine environment. The parsimonious assumption is, therefore, that fishing decreased the resilience of these populations, rendering them more vulnerable to environmental change. From our perspective, this still constitutes overfishing.

Environmental fluctuations are but one of many sources of major uncertainty in fisheries. It is now widely accepted that management must somehow allow for uncertainty and potential inaccuracy in projected sustainable catch levels. It is our contention in this paper, however, that the full implications of uncertainty have not been recognized in the design and implementation of fisheries management strategies. This shortcoming, we believe, has been a major factor in the decline and collapse of many fisheries.

Yes, indeed. And have you looked at the coastwide populations of wild salmon and their changes over… say… the last 30 to 40 years?

Or, have you looked at a shrinking monitoring program of shrinking salmon populations?

One article published in a renowned hallowed-halls, peer-reviewed journal has:

Ghost Runs: management and status assessment of Pacific salmon returning to BC’s central and north coast_Price_2008

I’ll comment on the article in another post, as it certainly relates to recent points in other posts and comments.

One of the more striking lines from the paper — and this isn’t rocket science…

“… reducing fishing pressure as a straightforward management prescription to rebuild diminished runs.

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In this time of great environmental uncertainty… from rapidly expanding ocean dead zones due to acidification that have occurred far faster than any “modeling” by world experts predicted to climate change impacts that are also far beyond what “models” predicted…

shouldn’t we be making drastic changes to how we look after essential ‘resources’ such as wild salmon… and their habitat?

Oh wait… I think I might have read something along these lines in something else recently…

Oh yeah, the 1932 British Columbia Fisheries Department report: Contributions to the Life History of the Sockeye Salmon:

BC Fisheries Department 1932

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There was a particular excerpt:

Hope you can read that fine print:

“…lack of control of the fishery is quite well understood… Increased escapements appear to be the logical remedy.”

“…in the meantime a very conservative policy is imperative.”

Indeed. Good 1932 scientific wisdom.

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Reducing fishing pressure to rebuild runs… (might be the best rehabilitation/restoration/adaptation strategy going).