Tag Archives: Fisheries and Oceans

Editorial: It’s not the time to gut [Department of] Fisheries

Here’s an editorial from the Victoria, BC Times Colonist the other day:

Editorial: It’s not the time to gut Fisheries

With declining salmon stocks and concerns about fish farms and the impact of climate change, we are going to need to more knowledge than ever before. This is not the time for a dumbing-down of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Yet the federal government has sent letters to 400 DFO employees, including about 200 scientists, warning them that they could be affected by a pending “workforce adjustment,” the usual term for a large-scale termination of employees.

In other words, the government is looking to get rid of some of its experts, just when they will be needed the most. Remarkably, officials within the department insist that it is still determined to have strong fisheries research — research that would be more difficult to complete without enough staff.

The department’s stated mission is to deliver safe and accessible waterways, healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. It will be guided, it says, “by the principles of sound scientific knowledge and effective management.”

The federal government pledged in the 2011 budget to cut costs in the department through a strategic review, and further cuts might be coming next year. The government wants to find another $4 billion to cut from its annual expenditures.

It would be foolish to think that governments exist to provide employment, or to provide services that are not really needed. It is just as foolish, however, to believe that governments can keep cutting bodies and slashing spending in a desperate attempt to keep taxes low.

There is a rational limit to cutting; beyond that point, ideology is being allowed to prevail over common sense and effective, efficient government.

We could mention Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s use of a government helicopter to save him a short commute by car, or Treasury Board president Tony Clement’s liberal spending on a single Ontario electoral district under the guise of G8 security needs. But those would be cheap shots.

Instead, we will note that the Cohen Commission, which was set up to examine the reasons for the decline of the Fraser River sockeye salmon, is widely expected to call for more research and more information — not less.

The government might believe that it can rely on independent researchers and laboratories, but that would be wishful thinking. For consistent, objective research, the federal government needs to set the standard.

If it guts its research offices, it would be hard to restore them when common sense returns. The top scientists would have moved on — and being logical thinkers, they would not risk giving up their new roles to go back to a department that is little more than a political football.

This is a critical time for our oceans — a time when smart people should be cherished, not shown the door.

_ _ _ _ _ _

It’s often a curious thing when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is everyone’s whipping puppy on many fronts, then news of layoffs come and folks start saying: “no, no, no… not layoffs… we need those employees.”

Sure brutal timing for the folks getting layoff notices… nothing like that pink slip coming a couple weeks before Christmas. Way to go Grinch Harper.

I suppose the swifter kick in the nether regions comes on top of stories like this today from the Globe and Mail:

MacKay spent $1,450 a night while staff settled for $275 hotel rooms

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is accusing Defence Minister Peter MacKay of living like a king while attending conferences in Europe.

The watchdog group has uncovered hotel bills through access-to-information laws that show the minister spent $1,452 a night for a two-night stay at a luxury hotel in Munich and $770 a night for three nights in Istanbul, Turkey.

So MacKay is apparently getting picked up by rescue helicopters from posh fishing lodges on the taxpayer bill, and the Conservative government is sprucing up the Muskoga region with $50 million spent building gazebos and however much spent on building a fake lake for a G-20 summit, and the other excesses in Conservative MP Tony Clement’s riding.

I can simply add on here that I’ve attended enough ‘fisheries-related’ meetings where DFO will arrive with upwards of fifteen staff members, which ends out being half of what was already attending the meeting from other organizations. So a meeting of say thirty representatives all of a sudden balloons to forty-five when DFO arrives. Sometimes DFO folks have taken two flights by jet, rented a car, got hotel rooms, etc. so that the numbers can simply be ballooned.

It often makes little sense — and they continue to do it, even though it’s been suggested many times that there really isn’t that much need for that many Department employees at some of these meetings. And, in fact, it can take away from the productivity of the meeting. Simply running through introductions ends out taking more time then required.

So, yes, very unfortunate for those receiving pink slips — Yet, at the same time just more disconnection notices within the civil service of Canada and Provinces, and complete disconnect amongst politicians.

Why not cut the bonuses and salary increases of senior bureaucrats, cut down their travel budgets and expenses and keep some scientists and conservation staff working…

Plus, senior DFO bureaucrats seem to have a hard time listening to their scientists in the first place… look no further then the North Atlantic Cod collapse, or… or…

Which drugs do the DFO and Canadian Food Inspection Agency need for their premature communication issue? (hairtrigger problems anyone?)

As things lead up to the special hearings at the Cohen Commission in to Fraser sockeye declines this week, the heat is turned up…

More information suggesting that Canada and BC’s regulations to protect BC’s and the North Pacific’s wild salmon stocks from Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) — are not good enough.

As per usual, it’s taking ex-DFO and ex-Provincial scientists to blow the whistle… because, as pointed out in the previous post, there are most likely many that don’t want to sacrifice their healthy public servant wages and pensions by speaking out and facing repercussions?

Here’s an article out of Victoria, BC’s Times Colonist today, as well as the leaked report from the ex-Provincial government scientist — a report which has been submitted to the Cohen Commission.

Canada’s fish health regulations are not stringent enough to prevent viruses from being imported to West Coast fish farms on Atlantic salmon eggs, says a former high-level provincial government fisheries biologist.Sally Goldes, fish health unit section head at the B.C. Environment Ministry for 17 years, has submitted a paper to the Cohen Commission on the decline of Fraser River sockeye that says iodine treatment of eggs and the testing of overseas providers of salmon eggs – Canada’s defence against disease transmission – are inadequate…

…”The data – [inadequate sample sizes, ineffectiveness of iodine disinfection, etc.] suggests that the current Canada Fish Health Protection Rules do not provide a high level of regulatory security against the introduction of ISAV into British Columbia,” the paper concludes.

“It is important to remember that iodine disinfection does not kill ISAV present inside the egg and it is unknown whether ISAV is in this location.”

Iodine treatment is designed to rid egg surfaces of bacteria.

This sort of sounds like thinking that would suggest that if you give your newborn baby a bath that it won’t come down with infections or illness…

Isn’t this something that would have been learned in every other place that farmed salmon have had ISA breakouts?

Guess not… the article continues:

Salmon farms in B.C. import Atlantic salmon eggs from such countries as Britain, the U.S. and Iceland.

The virus has devastated fish farms in Chile and Norway and is also present in Atlantic Canada.

She is concerned ISA could be introduced to B.C. waters and spread to already stressed wild salmon populations.

“If you really look closely at the regulations, from a scientific basis, there is not the high degree of protection that the government, and particularly DFO, states that they have,” Goldes said. “It’s an issue of trust.”

Hmmm, one could maybe do a poll of Canadians and ask how much trust they have in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans — and maybe even the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in this particular case.

Let’s just say it’s probably at an all time low.

Especially, after it came clear that the Food Inspection Agency mounted a big communications campaign with Canada’s trade partners, after the first reported ISA findings in wild Pacific salmon — as opposed to the Canadian public.

And now, both DFO and the CFIA mount denial campaigns.

The problem with denial campaigns is that if you get proven wrong, and in fact are not only proven wrong in your denials and that you held the responsibility in the first place — it’s sort of like a double whammy.

_ _ _ _ _ _

The article continues:

“I think DFO and CFIA have a lot more work to do. I think that press conference was entirely premature,” she said.

[nothing like premature communication]

“The problem is that DFO has a dual mandate for aquaculture and wild fish, and the decisions are political.”

Amen to that Ms. Goldes — as the old cliche goes: you hit the nail on the head…

And as we’ll all find out soon enough, DFO and the CFIA most likely missed the nail head completely and hit their thumbs… and if it does turn out that they are denying something that is in fact true (e.g. ISA is in wild Pacific salmon — and that better safeguards needed to be in place, and should be in place) — then they’re should be several ‘nail’ heads rolling in the circle of civil servants and Ministers, and deputy ministers, and assistant deputy ministers.

The decisions are political is always one to keep in mind… look no further then Harper’s government/Canada’s removal from the Kyoto protocol (a vote of confidence for oil and gas companies and pipeline companies). Or the current situation in the northern Ontario First Nation community of Attawapiskat — shameful

The federal government can spend $50 million+ on frigging gazebos for 2-3 days of meetings in Ontario’s cottage country, build a fake lake (at what coast?), and so on and then set out on trying to shame a northern community for how it manages its money. Money spent that is audited yearly more heavily then any other government financing handed out in this country.

(Especially money handed out to particular ridings held by Conservative MPs that may be threatened in an election…)

Ahhh, the twisted priorities of the political game… (but I digress…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Here is the leaked report from the Fishyleaks site:– the report that the Salmon Farmer’s Association is whining about being prematurely released.

Hmmm, all this talk of premature… maybe the salmon farming industry was given free reign to BC’s coast prematurely?

Dr Sally Goldes report

The abstract for the report suggests:

Atlantic salmon eyed eggs have been imported almost yearly into British Columbia during the period 1985 until 2010 from a number of countries including the USA, UK , Iceland and also from Atlantic Canada  (BC Atlantic Imports).   Source aquaculture facilities, except for more recent imports from Iceland (where the definition of lot was not achieved, however the rest of the procedures were the same) were certified free of specified piscine pathogens of concern according to testing protocols mandated in the Canadian Fish Health Protection Regulations (CFHPR).  Immediately prior to shipment, eyed eggs were disinfected according to the CFHPR iodophor disinfection protocol.

Certification and iodine egg disinfection together are the main pillar’s of Canada’s defense against the introduction of exotic piscine diseases such as Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA).  In order to protect British Columbia’s wild aquatic ecosystems and aquaculture industries these measures must provide a high level of security.   Close scientific examination of these regulatory measures however raises concerns that in-practice, these measures fail to provide the high level of protection required.  This discussion focuses on certain concerns with: (1) ISA detection using cell culture, (2) sample size, and (3) iodine surface disinfection, however there remain many other weaknesses.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Could be an interesting week at Cohen Commission — stay tuned…

“Road to Nowhere” — Come on inside… takin’ that ride to nowhere..

Talking heads...management institution...

To really appreciate (or maybe not) this post you need to have this link, with music going in the background…

This is an old popular song from the band Talking Heads: “Road to Nowhere

.

 

http://youtu.be/JtdBtZOG17E

The lyrics for the song start like this:

WELL WE KNOW WHERE WE’RE GOIN’

BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHERE WE’VE BEEN

AND WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE KNOWIN’

BUT WE CAN’T SAY SAY WHAT WE’VE SEEN

AND WE’RE NOT LITTLE CHILDREN

AND WE KNOW WHAT WE CAN’T

AND THE FUTURE IS CERTAIN

GIVE TIME TO WORK IT OUT

.
We’re on a road to nowhere

Come on inside

Takin’ that ride to nowhere

We’ll take that ride

_ _ _ _ _ _

See… the thought process behind comes from this definition of “management” :

definition of management?

“… to manage oneself as a pre-requisite to attempting to manage others…”?? (hmmm)

(including other things…?)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

“Management,” rather obviously comes from the root: “manage”:

"to manage"...

.

Much of the thought process for this line of illustrations came from school research, and reading an essay by Edward Said, an English literature academic, professor and critic: “Said was an influential cultural critic and author, known best for his book Orientalism (1978).”

This from his collection of essays “Reflections on Exile” and the essay “Opponents, Audiences, Constituencies, and Community“:

The most impressive recent work concerning the history, circumstances, and constitution of modern knowledge has stressed the role of social convention… for example, the shift of attention away from the individual creator to the communal restraints upon personal initiative. Galileos and Einsteins are infrequent figures not just because genius is a rare thing but because scientists are borne along by agreed-upon ways to do research, and this consensus encourages uniformity rather than bold enterprise. Over time this uniformity acquires the status of discipline, while its subject matter becomes a field or territory…

[e.g. BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHERE WE’VE BEEN]

Along with these goes a whole apparatus of techniques… to protect the coherence, the territorial integrity, the identity of the field, its adherents and its institutional presence. You cannot simply choose to be a sociologist or a psychoanalyst; you cannot simply make statements that have the status of knowledge in anthropology; you cannot merely suppose that what you say as a historian (however well it may have been researched) enters historical discourse. You have to pass through certain rules of accreditation, you must learn the rules, you must speak the language, you must master idioms, and you must accept the authorities of the field — determined in many of the same ways — to which you cannot contribute.

[e.g. BUT WE CAN’T SAY SAY WHAT WE’VE SEEN]

In this view of things, expertise is partially determined by how well an individual learns the rules of the game, so to speak…

[e.g. AND WE KNOW WHAT WE CAN’T…. say, or do…]

And most telling in Said’s questions:

Is it the inevitable conclusion to the formation of an interpretive community that its constituency, its specialized language, and its concerns tend to get tighter, more airtight, more self-enclosed as its own self-confirming authority acquires more power, the solid status of orthodoxy, and a stable constituency? What is the acceptable humanistic antidote to what one discovers, say, among sociologists, philosophers and so-called policy scientists who speak only to and for each other in a language oblvious to everything but a well-guarded constantly shrinking fiefdom forbidden to the uninitiated?

This doesn’t sound like a particular fishy government ministry fiefdom (and many closely attached organizations) that is about to, or in the middle of, facing a mass shortage of staff due to retirements and early retirements…?

You want in to that ‘fiefdom’ (e.g. policy scientists… [what a phrase]…),  you better be versed in the lingo, the idioms [A form of expression natural to a language, person, or group of people], the games, the politics, and the methods of moving up the bureaucratic ladder (e.g. the Peter Principle).

Otherwise known as “don’t rock the boat.”

You also better be well-versed, and completely adherent (like crazy glue) to the references and ‘science’ that got us here… you know the things like Maximum Sustained Yield, strategic imperatives, benchmarks, ‘ecosystem-based planning’, and so on…

And… you better have PowerPoint nailed down.

And, know the secret handshakes, and day rate and per diem gravy train intellectual copyrights…

As someone wise-cracked recently too me:

DFO is the least biologically diverse bureaucracy – a small gene pool of scientists that has aged but not recruited young stock…

Diversity would also suggest a wide range of approaches, ‘professionals’, non-professionals, ways of valuing and working from local and community knowledge…

Not government department imperatives, strategic plans, and management objectives.

Time for a Change. (?)

Or as one of the ‘doctor’ toys my kids play with asks: “Time for a Check-up?”

“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.

_ _ _ _ _ _

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…

 

2nd case of ISA found in Fraser River coho fry.

the denial train

The New York Times is on to the story in no time:

Virus in Pacific Salmon Raises Worries About Industry

Advocates for wild salmon said Friday that a deadly virus had been detected again in a Pacific salmon in British Columbia, but it was not clear if it would prove lethal to the fish population.

The finding, like one involving two juvenile wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia, poses questions for the viability of salmon fisheries in Canada and the United States. Scientists have expressed concern about the emergence of the virus while raising questions about complications, including scientific doubts about the quality of the tests.

In its active state, the virus, infectious salmon anemia, has devastated Atlantic salmon populations in fish farms in Chile and elsewhere. Salmon advocates have long worried that the virus could spread to wild populations, but it not clear whether Pacific salmon are equally susceptible.

In documents released Friday, an adult coho salmon supplied by salmon advocates to a prominent laboratory showed signs of carrying the disease. That fish was reported to have been found in a tributary of the Fraser River, a critical salmon run for fishermen in Canada and the United States.

Last week, researchers from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and elsewhere said that they had discovered the virus in 2 of 48 juvenile fish collected as part of a study of sockeye salmon in Rivers Inlet, on the central coast of British Columbia. The study was undertaken after scientists observed a decline in the number of young sockeye.

Such a virus could have a deep impact on the survival of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Some scientists have suggested that the virus had spread from British Columbia’s aquaculture industry, which has imported millions of Atlantic salmon eggs over the last 25 years.

Salmon farms and wild fish are separated only by a net, many have noted. No treatment exists for the virus, which does not spread to humans, scientists say.

The crowded conditions of salmon farms are thought to abet the spread of the virus.

_ _ _ _ _

Ivan reports on it over at his blog:

ISA pandemic in BC

 

Alexandra Morton speaking at a press conference at SFU last week.

The New York Times reports on a second case of ISA – this time in coho salmon in the Fraser River system.

Brace, people. We have an ISA pandemic in BC.

In rivers, streams, and coastlines, people are collecting salmon samples and sending them for virus testing – because the government won’t do it.

And every time we test, we will find more positives of that virus. And more. And more.

Until the structure collapses under the weight of its own incompetence and corruption. We will see the end of a mode of governance.

DFO as an institution is finished. Large transnational fish farm corporations will flee the country in shame, leaving ecosystems in ruin. And the Province of BC will lose whatever may be left of its legitimacy.

It’s called the salmon revolution.

May the wild salmon survive this terrible, yet necessary, crisis.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Quite impressive, that Alex suggests in her presentation (photo above) that there have been over 1000 reports of “classic” ISA-type lesions reported in BC since 2006.

And yet salmon farming advocates, the industry, and government officials (including some that comment on this blog) continue on the denial train. Or, question legitimacy of results, or people involved, and so on and so on.

Although there are some in the industry that have certainly said: ‘if ISA is here, then we’re in deep, deep shit’

See the thing is that I can’t figure out… if there’s any hint that ISA is here, why wouldn’t the industry (and the governments that continue to provide it immense amount of funding under the guise of ‘research & development’) jump into code RED.

One could draw an analogy to the ‘codes’ that the US government and others use to suggest ‘terrorist’ threats.

And these are just ‘threats’… not actual positive tests per se…

See, like ISA outbreaks in the business of farming salmon (e.g. just read about the 70%-80% losses suffered in Chile in 2008), ‘terrorist outbreaks’ can be rather devastating to economies (and psyches). Thus, many governments at the mere ‘threat’ of something like terrorist activity, issues various warnings and takes immediate action — and warns everyday average folks of potential threats.

I don’t want to go too far down this analogy, however, I think one can pick up my gist…

Now, sure, this is where government and industry folks will start quoting how many farmed salmon have been tested in the last few years for ISA and how those tests were “negative”.

Like anything though… ‘negative’ test results, does not imply “absence”. (look at the fuss over drugs and blood doping in the sport of bicycling, for example… negative tests, do not necessarily mean ‘absence’).

I would think for the sheer protection of investment that shareholders of Marine Harvest and others would be demanding much more intense ISA testing following the issues in Chile. I would think that government officials, both Provincial and Federal, would be doing everything possible to ensure that ISA is not in salmon farms or in wild populations — if anything, to also protect their hundred(s) of millions of dollars in investment.

(but also maybe to do what they’re supposed to… protect natural ecosystems).

There are still many ‘shoes’ to fall on this issue… but it could get real ugly yet. Or… maybe like many of the ‘terrorist’ warnings issued in recent years in North America, caution might just seem pragmatic.

Yet the official line from the federal government? question the messenger, and delay, delay, delay.

 

 

I spell Maximum Sustainable Yield… e-l-e-p-h-a-n-t

the things we don't talk about... is that snuffleupagus?

Does this make any sense?

There is one thing out there that killed anywhere between 60-80% of the total Fraser sockeye run (and others) — year after year after year.

Us.

Through largely marine-based, mixed stock fisheries.

Planned, research-based, intentional, government-backed, scientifically-based, institutionally-supported, democratically-elected endorsed.

Purposeful. No mistakes, no apology. year after year after year.

Some might call it wild salmon stocks genocide, some might call it good policy and good science. (some did, some do).

_ _ _ _ _

We have essentially taken one of the world’s greatest salmon rivers, and world’s greatest salmon runs, and reduced it to a mere shadow of itself — in just over 100 years.

There was once over 200 distinct and unique Fraser sockeye stocks. Individually-adapted and evolved stocks unique to the specific tributaries and streams where they returned year after year. Some small sockeye like the Nadina, wayyyy upstream west of Prince George and closer to the Skeena River then the mouth of the Fraser, or some larger sockeye, with their home streams closer to the mouth of the Fraser.

All specifically unique for the conditions they’d lived in for eons.

The ministry tasked with ensuring these fish don’t go the route of oblivion, that these stocks don’t go extinct… Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

How many unique and distinct Fraser sockeye stocks do we have now?

Nobody can say…

Maybe half what it used to be, or less?

And yet, the ‘experts’ continue to look for the “smoking gun” that is causing runs to collapse — like the 2009 Fraser sockeye run, or Rivers Inlet, or… or…

Up and down the BC coast, un-named, un-‘researched’ sockeye runs that have gone the route of oblivion.

It’s not a mystery, really.

We killed upwards of 80% of these returning runs… every year… for several human generations.

By misguided policies, that have now become elephants in the room that most people pretend doesn’t exist, yet they have a tough time taking notes because of the imposing shadow blocking their vision…

International conferences are upcoming in the near future to discuss wild salmon resiliency in the face of coming rapid changes (e.g. receding glaciers, more water demands for agriculture and so on, and rapidly changing climates). Most likely there will be more bumpf words then a gathering of teenage video-“gaming” aficionados… things like adaptive, and strategic and ecosystem-based, and conservation-based.

Elephants do make great backgrounds for PowerPoint presentations though… so maybe these conferences and gatherings and think-tanks will have ground-breaking PowerPoint slides…

Unfortunately, elephants, as one website suggests: “much like their predecessors, these two species [Asian and African elephant] are facing a grim future… heading to another human-propelled extinction.”

Personally, I’d rather see the extinction of PowerPoint presentations… than wild salmon or elephants.

Somewhat good news: Spawning salmon levels rise Birkenhead River sees highest sockeye return in five years… yet co-opted “co-management”

A somewhat good news story about sockeye coming out of the Pemberton area near Whistler.

However, maybe mis-guided comments about “co-management”?

Spawning salmon levels rise Birkenhead River sees highest sockeye return in five years

The numbers are in from the Lil’wat Nation’s annual sockeye salmon stock assessment for the Birkenhead River. From the time the sockeye entered the river in late August to shortly after the counting fence was blown out by high water levels towards the end of the run in late September, a total of 193,547 sockeye were counted.

“It would certainly be the largest escapement (population) in the last five years,” said Mike Lapointe, head biologist of the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC). “The previous largest escapement is 2006, which is 266,000, and since then we had 93,000 in ’07, 19,000 in ’08, 54,000 in ’09 and last year, 128,000.”

Typically, 90 per cent of Fraser River salmon have a four-year lifecycle, but the Birkenhead is different in that there can be significant numbers of five- and six-year-olds as well. This is partly related to the fact that it’s a coastal stream and subject to high flash flooding. Because of these fluctuations in the spawning habitat, the populations have evolved to produce more than one age class.

What this means, said Lapointe, is potentially this year’s higher rate of return is because some of the salmon are from 2006.

“With Fraser sockeye, we talk of parent years as being important since they have a four-year lifecycle, then we’d be looking at the escapement four years ago, which was ’07 and that number was 93,000,” he said. “And so for the Birkenhead, it looks like this parent year has produced fairly well.”

But he won’t know how many have returned in 2011 as five-year-olds from the abundant 2006 brood until he examines the samples, said Lapointe.

The Mount Currie Fisheries Program works closely with the PSC throughout the year, closely monitoring conditions of the fish and river.

“Because this is the territory we’ve grown up in and we’re very responsible for, we also document environmental information like temperatures, differences we see in the river and things that catch our eye,” said Maxine Joseph-Bruce, fisheries program manager for the Mount Currie Band.

The collected data is sent to the PSC along with samples — a combination of scales and otolith, the ear bone in the fish. Both have rings on them for determining age, very much like rings that you could see on a tree, said Lapointe.

The annual sockeye count requires the installation of a counting fence across the Birkenhead to create a four-foot wide opening the salmon can pass through. Narrowing the river in this manner facilitates tracking the number of fish swimming upstream.

“We situate a working platform just up-river, about eight feet from the opening, and we count every single fish that swims through that gate,” said Joseph-Bruce.

This year, the counting bench was staffed by two people 24 hours a day, seven days a week — in eight hour shifts — from Aug. 31 through to Sept. 23, when the fence had to be removed due to heavy rain and clogging caused by fallen leaves.

“Kids visit from the local schools, Signal Hill and Xit’olacw, a number of tourists stop in, plus it’s a really positive approach to education and awareness about salmon in our valley,” said Joseph-Bruce. “Some people don’t have a clue that sockeye are returning to the Birkenhead.”

Lapointe added, “The program that Maxine is running is just such a terrific example of the co-management that can occur with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in terms of having folks that live in the area do the assessments.”

Joseph-Bruce recently attended a salmon ceremony at Pemberton Secondary School and said she would like to see such appreciation for the Birkenhead salmon spread to all local communities.

“They’re aware of this beautiful animal that comes back here… I’m really proud of our youth who are paying attention, and how we in this valley are pretty lucky our land gets fed by these wonderful salmon that return back,” said Joseph-Bruce.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Some great things in this article, and yet some gaping voids…

For example, as Mike Lapointe from the Pacific Salmon Commission mentions, this year’s return of just under 200,000 (to the river) is one of the better returns in several years — e.g, 2006 when the return (to the river) was a little over 250,000 sockeye.

The thing that is so rarely mentioned in any of these numbers…. what was the total run size estimate, before it got hammered by marine, mixed-stock fisheries opened by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Pacific Salmon Commission?

In 2006, for example, the marine exploitation rate (captured in ocean and Fraser mouth fisheries) was almost 30% of the total run size. The total estimated run size for 2006 was almost 600,000 sockeye — before fisheries in Canada’s waters opened on them.

In 2006, just over 175,000 Birkenhead sockeye were caught in fisheries, and a further almost 150,000 were “lost” en route.

_ _ _ _ _

For further comparison, the biggest run prior to that was in 1993 when the total Birkenhead run size estimate was over 1.7 million sockeye.

That year the marine exploitation rate was estimated at 85%: over 1.3 million Birkenhead sockeye caught in marine fisheries on the BC coast in 1993.

Only 245,000 sockeye made it back to the river that year.

So one must gather that the esteemed fisheries science of the last several decades suggests that we can take 85% of a population and expect it to produce the same size run at the conclusion of its life cycle? (4-6 years when it comes to Birkenhead sockeye)

_ _ _ _ _ _

Similar story in 1986.

Total run size for Birkenhead sockeye estimated at over 1.6 million.

Marine exploitation that year = 78% or almost 1.3 million Birkenhead sockeye killed in marine fisheries.

Number of sockeye that actually made it up river to spawnjust over 330,000.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Want to see some real dismal numbers, look at some other years of Birkenhead sockeye. Go back one year further…

1985

Total estimated run size: 144,000

Marine exploitation: 89% which equals, almost 130,000 sockeye caught.

How many made it to the river to spawn?

11,000.

_ _ _ _ _ _

In the year 2000 (after how many public inquires into sockeye issues? 3, 4, 5?)

Total Birkenhead run size estimate: 63,000

Marine exploitation: 65%, almost 43,000 Birkenhead sockeye caught in fisheries.

Total return to spawning grounds: 14,470.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The newspaper story says it well.

Typically, 90 per cent of Fraser River salmon have a four-year lifecycle, but the Birkenhead is different in that there can be significant numbers of five- and six-year-olds as well. This is partly related to the fact that it’s a coastal stream and subject to high flash flooding. Because of these fluctuations in the spawning habitat, the populations have evolved to produce more than one age class.

So sockeye populations of various rivers have ‘evolved’ (over eons and changing conditions) to deal with wide-ranging environmental conditions.

Did they evolve to deal with having upwards of 80% of their total returning runs caught in mixed-stock fisheries in the ocean?

No.

They have enough challenges with mud slides (for example in the Pemberton area),

from Times Colonist

weather events, glacial run-off, spring and fall downpours, and the like, to contend with for simple survival. Let alone misguided fisheries management policies for upwards of 100 years that say, “yeah, go catch 80, 90% of those runs… they’ll be fine.”

The Birkenhead is one of only 19 Fraser sockeye stocks that has sufficient info to track in a year-after-year basis. And like so many other runs, this data is very time limited, the Birkenhead data only goes back into the 1980s.

What about many of the over 200 distinct Fraser sockeye stocks that once existed prior to the beginnings of cannery row in the late 1800s? The many 100s of stocks that had also ‘evolved’ various life strategies and characteristics to deal with local challenges and opportunities.

R.I.P.

… that’s what.

The mixed-stock, Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY — see free e-book on this site), fishery practices of the last 100+ years sent those runs the way of the passenger pigeon, dodo bird, and wooly mammoth… victims of ‘market sustainability & ecological prioritization.’

_ _ _ _ _

And thus… is counting fish at fish fences and recording river and environmental data: “co-management“?

As in Mr. Lapointe’s: “The program… is just such a terrific example of the co-management that can occur with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in terms of having folks that live in the area do the assessments.”

Now, I do want to be respectful, as my interactions with Mr. Lapointe have been good ones. He seemed to me, quite a nice fellow. However in attempting to be ‘hard on the problem, not the person’ — last I checked, co-management is about power relations, not “participating in assessments”… (not to take away from the fact that there is participation permitted in this case).

For example, some suggest co-management means:

A political claim by users or community to share management power and responsibility within the state.

Or,

The sharing of power and responsibility between the government and local resource users.

Or,

Power sharing in the exercise of resource management between government agency and a community organization…

Or,

A partnership in which government agencies, local communities and resources users, NGOs and other stakeholders share… the authority and responsibility for the management of a specific territory or a set of resources.

These all come from the book: Adaptive Co-management: Collaboration, Learning, and Multi-level Governance by Armitage, Berkes and Doubleday put out by UBC Press in 2007. (pg. 3)

_ _ _ _ _ _

When it comes to looking after wild salmon in Canada — I’m not sure that I’m aware of many (or any) effective “co-management” regimes, as in real sharing of “power” and “responsibility”… with First Nation or local settler communities.

Sure there’s funding handed out to count fish and record river temperatures… but true power-sharing? true partnership?

Hmmmm…

And how do we “co-manage” extinct wild salmon runs — such as the many that have disappeared on the Fraser system or up and down the BC coast?

What I am aware of is governments that insist, every time a case of aboriginal rights and title go to the highest courts in the land, vehemently deny that aboriginal rights and title exist.

And there’s one of the main problems… first people’s fishing rights keep having to be wrung through the adversarial and colonially-based legal system.

And the highest courts in the land repeatedly suggest: ‘yes, they do exist [the rights and the title] and everyone return to the negotiating table to figure it out’…

…that ‘power’ and ‘sharing’ thing… figure it out…

It’s not to say there aren’t efforts on these fronts (some of which that evolved from court cases)… just frustrating to see when terms get co-opted and watered down as if thrown into a muddied river in full fall freshet.

“Salmon-Killing Virus Seen for First Time in the Wild on the Pacific Coast” & PR tactic #4: cover-your-ass-in-case-its-right Rule

And the story goes global.

“Salmon-killing virus… on Pacific coast”

Can you say Public Relations nightmare for salmon farmers of the world…?

Was listening to CBC Radio this morning and the second story on “World Report” was this one. Even the New York Times is in on the story:

Salmon-Killing Virus Seen for First Time in the Wild on the Pacific Coast

A lethal and highly contagious marine virus has been detected for the first time in wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest, researchers in British Columbia said on Monday, stirring concern that it could spread there, as it has in Chile, Scotland and elsewhere.

Farms hit by the virus, infectious salmon anemia, have lost 70 percent or more of their fish in recent decades. But until now, the virus, which does not affect humans, had never been confirmed on the West Coast of North America.

_ _ _ _ _ _

This isn’t only a problem in Canada. Check out the BBC and other news outlets in Scotland and the UK.

Fish farm ban on cards for [Scottish] coasts

Published on Monday 17 October 2011

THE Scottish Government may introduce laws banning fish farms from operating in some coastal areas.

It could follow Norway, where the law has restricted the spread of farms after growing concerns over the depletion of wild stocks.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Now you know what all of this means, don’t you?

Some serious PR-tactics, campaigns, and speech writing (e.g., “marketing is everything, everything is marketing”) due to come out of salmon farmers — especially the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

First rule of any PR campaign — DENY, DENY, DENY.

Second rule: question veracity of results.

Third rule: question credibility of researchers (that’s already started in comments on this site)

Fourth rule: state how well you have things under control — this is the: cover-your-ass-in-case-its-right rule)

Yesterday was a quick press release from the salmon farmers:

Suspect findings of ISA of concern to BC’s salmon farmers

A press release today from Simon Fraser University regarding reports that two wild Pacific salmon have tested positive for Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) is of concern to BC’s salmon farmers.

Our members are actively following up with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The CFIA is reviewing the validity of these publicized but as yet unconfirmed results. The BC Salmon Farmers Association has not yet been able to review the findings.

“Farm-raised Atlantic salmon, unlike their Pacific cousins, are susceptible to ISA, so this is a concern for our operations, but much less likely to be an issue for the different Pacific species,” said Stewart Hawthorn, Managing Director for Grieg Seafood. “If these results are valid, this could be a threat to our business and the communities that rely on our productive industry.”

The results were reportedly found in juvenile Sockeye smolts in Rivers Inlet – an area north of most salmon farms. These fish would not have passed aquaculture operations, but our farmers remain concerned about what this means, and how the disease, which is not native to British Columbia, may have been introduced.

“Samples from BC’s salmon farms are tested regularly for ISA by our regulator’s fish health departments and have never found a positive case on a farm. Over 4,700 individual fish samples have been assessed and proven to be negative.  These unconfirmed findings certainly are unexpected, unusual and warrant further investigation,” said Clare Backman, Sustainability Director for Marine Harvest Canada.

Extensive egg importation regulations were implemented years ago to ensure that disease is not imported to BC waters. Experts testified at the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon that these regulations were strong and proactive in reducing the risk of disease. Testing done by third party researchers in the past on wild Sockeye have returned negative results for ISA as well. Biosecurity protocols both within each company and across the industry also protect the health of wild and farmed fish.

“Our fish remain healthy and we are seeing no indication of the presence of ISA,” said Hawthorn. “It is very important that our fish remain healthy – to support our ongoing commitment to our businesses, our communities and our environment.”

The BCSFA represents salmon farm companies and those who supply services and supplies to the industry. Salmon-farming provides for 6,000 direct and indirect jobs while contributing $800-million to the provincial economy each year.

-30-

Stewart Hawthorn
Managing Director, Grieg Seafood
(250) 202-8588

Clare Backman
Director of Sustainability, Marine Harvest Canada [and former DFO employee]
(250) 850-9554

_ _ _ _ _ _

Well done, I think all rules were covered.

Make sure to put in language that places a little seed of doubt “suspect findings” “apparent” “reportedly” and so on.

Stay tuned as this story will most likely get more interesting.

 

 

Salmon fisheries of the North Pacific high seas?

.

A curious find at the local university library this week: “Salmonid Ecosystems of the North Pacific“.

inside page

It was compiled in 1980.

In the preface, it suggests:

Some stocks of salmonids have been fished heavily since before the turn of the century, and most have been heavily fished since the 1930s. Freshwater spawning and nursery habitats have also been degraded by land and water use activities. Most natural populations have declined from the combined effects of overfishing and environmental damage.

The preface also discusses the explosion at that time of artificial propagation, such as salmon enhancement (e.g. hatcheries) and massive ‘salmon ranching’ programs in Asia and Alaska. The big question on the books for this symposium was the impact of these efforts on the North Pacific.

Essentially: did pumping out a pile of artificially propagated salmon have a negative impact out in the ocean? Or, was the continued practice going to have a negative impact?

Kind of like asking if you drop an ice cube in a swimming pool whether it changes the temperature…

Or whether farting in a gymnasium changes the inside air temperature…

_ _ _ _ _ _

The first paper is by Dr. Randall Peterman, a common presence still to this day in salmon discussion in B.C and in the now wrapping up Cohen Commission into Fraser sockeye declines.

In the intro to his paper, Peterman suggests:

The catch of salmon (Onchoryncus spp.) in both British Columbia and all Pacific rim countries has dropped 50 percent in the last forty years.

And so salmon species were absolutely hammered by human fisheries from the late 1800s through the early 1900s coupled with… what might be called rather lax environmental standards…

And yet…

Under the guidance of government ministries, we continued on this path in B.C.:

take, take, take --- 80% take of total annual Fraser sockeye run

Every year, year after year, take anywhere between 60 – 80% of what was the estimated run size. All in a practice of Maximum Sustainable Yield. A fine practice largely supported by fisheries scientists everywhere.

Even with esteemed scientists such as Dr. Peterman (prob. pretty young in that day) suggesting: “hey look we’re already seeing a 50% drop in the catch rates…”

It has to be continually pointed out… this is 60 – 80% of the run taken in domestic fisheries. This does not account for the high seas.

The Magnuson-Stevens act which granted Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of 200 miles offshore to coastal nations didn’t kick in until 1976. That means that until that time there were any number of international and domestic fishing boats plying the North Pacific for fish.

Remember the term “curtains of death” … these referred to drift nets that could be as long as 40 km and caught everything in their path. These weren’t banned until the 1980s by the United Nations.

And yet, even a Vancouver Sun article in 2008 discusses the challenges in still catching offenders using outlawed drift nets.

B.C. important base in drift-nets search

From May to October, surveillance planes from Canada, Japan, Russia and the U.S. search that immense body of water for illegal drift nets.

Drift-net boat crews put out the banned nets at dusk and pull them in after dawn, to try to avoid being seen from the eyes in the sky above them.

The nets – some as long as 40 kilometres – are an efficient but indiscriminate way to remove target and non-target fish during those six months, when the North Pacific’s frigid waters are warmest and fish populations peak.

Depleted stocks of salmon in North America and Asia aren’t the only victims…

Yeah… this a bit more like trying to measure the impact of an ice cube dropped in your hot tub…

_ _ _ _ _ _

The 1980s book, has an article that provides a slight glimpse into the impacts of high seas fisheries in the middle part of the last century.

high seas fisheries salmon catch

As the caption suggests: this is the catch of sockeye salmon by commercial fisheries of the then-USSR, Japan, U.S., and Canada from the 1920s through the 1970s.

This is the “reported” catch of those fisheries.

And yup, that’s over 40 million sockeye caught on the high years.

Now of course, the offended fisheries scientist will probably jump in here and say, but those were mostly Alaskan sockeye…

I’m guessing the research wasn’t all that advanced to tell us exactly where the fish came from. I’m also guessing that maybe Cold War relations didn’t really facilitate American scientists or observers on Soviet fishing boats…

It also needs to be pointed out that this is the “reported catch” of salmon in fisheries that reported them… what about the other high seas and domestic fisheries that don’t and didn’t need to report salmon by-catch?

By-catch being the fish thrown overboard dead and squashed and unwanted. When one is targeting Gulf of Alaska pollock they don’t want dirty salmon polluting their catch…

_ _ _ _ _ _

Sadly… there is next to no mention of this issue in Cohen Commission material — but for five clauses in one of the twenty-one Policy and Practice Reports.

With reference to the North Pacific Anadromous Stocks Convention, which did not come into force until 1993 and only includes (as quoted in the Cohen Policy report):

The parties are Canada, the US, Japan, South Korea, and Russia. China participates informally in this convention, but is not a party to it.

The high seas are essentially considered “common” property, which means you gotta boat, you go fishing…  and considering the Vancouver Sun article from 2008 suggesting that high seas illegal drift net fisheries were still a problem…

And maybe I’ll just make casual mention of the fact (from the Cohen policy report):

The primary purpose of the North Pacific Anadromous Stocks Convention is to prohibit targeted fishing of anadromous fish stocks outside of the parties’ EEZs.

Yeah… I’ve heard a few folks use that excuse: “…but… i wasn’t ‘targeting’ them…it was an accident”

The convention delimits a zone, called the Convention Area, within which this prohibition applies. Under the treaty, only incidental catch of anadromous species is permitted within the Convention Area, and any incidental catches must not be retained, except for scientific research

Great… more by-catch thrown overboard.

_ _ _ _ _ _

But there is more…

The convention creates the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. The goal of the Commission is to promote the conservation of anadromous species in the North Pacific and the enforcement of the convention. While it does not play a fisheries management role, the Commission is mandated to determine scientific research projects, conservation measures and enforcement issues. Parties also commit to promote cooperative scientific research in the North Pacific.

In other words… no teeth… this is just about marketing… er… umm… I mean “promotion”.

It’s akin to the idea of governments promoting the idea of personal savings as a good idea… but knowing just as good ol’ Dubya Bush said after 9/11… everyone needs to be good Americans and get out there and shop…

_ _ _ _ _

This type of “policy” language is where many problems lie.

Seems many folks figure because we write something down on paper and say “this is the regulation/policy/law” that that then becomes actually enforced, enforceable, and makes any difference whatsoever.

Like the bike helmet law in BC…

_ _ _ _ _ _

And more unfortunate… it seems that the Cohen Commission into Fraser Sockeye (aka. “the commission to end all salmon commissions”) largely limited itself to only looking as far back as about 1990 when it comes to Fraser sockeye.

That’s only about 4 or 5 life cycles for a Fraser sockeye. (what if we did fruit fly research that way… “hey folks, we’re only going to look at a 40 to 50 day period…”

And sadly, the story written for Fraser sockeye declines had some significant plot developments at the turn of the century through to the 1980s.

A good hundred years of profit and plunder… and blunder…

A similar storyline as almost every fish stock around the world subject to industrial fisheries… and industrial fisheries science and industrial society politics.

Sadly, much of the science simply justifies the fisheries.

As well as, simply supporting more writing of policies and procedures and best practices and benchmarks and strategic plans and… and… and…

And yet on the ground… or in the water for that sake… the small coastal communities and people that live in them bear the brunt of the burden.

The brunt of the burden when the fisheries starting getting cut back… and even more brunt of the burden when fisheries all but disappear, because now it’s time for conservation

And when the discussion starts about “what to do…?” they’re told to sit quietly at home, or in the back corner, and let the “experts” figure it out for them…. and then read the thousands of pages of documentation that tells them why the experts are right… (just like they were last time…last decade… and the decade before that…)

Maybe it’s time for a change on how things are done.

More Citizen’s Assemblies… less expert forums, and policy and practice reports, and technical reports, and expert testimony, and bumpf-filled excuses and justifications…

Don’t get me wrong, the experts play a part… it’s just that they probably shouldn’t write the story.

 

When the words matter more: DFO – the lost, contradiction-laden bureaucracy

To “manage”:

1. Be in charge of (a company, establishment, or undertaking); administer; run.
2. Administer and regulate (resources under one’s control): “we manage our wild salmon well”.

An online etymology dictinoary suggests the roots of the word: c.1400, from Latin manualisof or belonging to the hand,” from manus “hand, strength, power over, armed force, handwriting,” from PIE *men– “hand, to take in one’s hand”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

And maybe that’s the problem… many folks have taken the roots of the word ‘manage‘ far too literally. But, I’ll get to that in a second.

The other key component of the meaning of to ‘manage’ is to “administer“:

1. Manage and be responsible for the running of (a business, organization, etc.).

2. Be responsible for the implementation or use of (law or resources).

Unfortunately, we’re running around after our lost tail here… administer means to manage, and to manage means to administer…

(yet, tucked in there somewhere between our tailbone and our rectum is the: ‘be responsible for use of resources’)

The online etymology dictionary suggests the roots of administer are: late 14c., “to manage as a steward,” from Old French amenistrer “help, aid, be of service to” (12c., Mod.Fr. administrer, the -d- restored 16c.), from Latin administrare “manage, control, guide, superintend; rule direct,” from ad– “to” (see ad-) + ministrare “serve”.

So if we keep going on this little trip, what is a “steward“?

1. One who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs.
2. One who is in charge of the household affairs of a large estate, club, hotel, or resort.

Roots of the word suggest: ‘Old English stiward, stigweard “house guardian,” from stig “hall, pen” + weard “guard.”

_ _ _ _ _

Now as we put this all together, some glaring contradictions arise, yet, maybe some insight into the ongoing issues of massive, resource-draining bureaucracies that become slurping, sucking, leeches all unto themselves. As well as insular, ivory-towered kingdoms surrounded by the pavement moat; separate from the serfs that provide the tax dollars to keep them afloat…

That aside… and not to discount the many folks that actually try to do good work amidst the sucking sounds inherent in a vacuum… or the folks that try valiantly to pull compadres out of their bureaucratic, paper-producing stupor…

If ‘to manage’ stems from what we do with our hands (manus-es), especially in relation to ‘handwriting’, and to manage also means ‘to administer’

And ‘to administer’, means to be responsible for running things, and the roots of the word suggest that it means “to steward” things…

And to steward things, means to manage others’ affairs well (e.g. a public resource)…

And the roots of that word, suggest that it means to ‘guard the hall’ essentially. Or maybe we can stretch that out to say “guard the resources, that its supposed to be responsible for administering (e.g. managing)” — which is the fish and the habitat that they rely upon. And to do this, they will most likely — in the act of managing — rely upon lots of handwriting…

Then why is it that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans seems to be much more concerned with fisheries, as opposed to “managing”, “administering”, “stewarding/guarding” the resource it is tasked to do so with public dollars?

_ _ _ _ _ _

Don’t get me wrong here… fisheries are important, vital even. I, myself, engage in the act of fishing and fisheries often. I also grew up in communities that fundamentally relied upon ‘fisheries’ — however, those communities, and the simple act of fishing alone — require something vital to be successful.

FISH.

(and I can certainly say with safety — those same communities are asking where the fish went…)

The problems start to lie in what our collective focus is.

Is our collective focus to continue to manage, administer, and steward “fisheries”?

OR,

is it to continue to manage, administer, and steward the fish themselves — and the habitat they depend upon?

(even more so, if we see that healthy fish habitat is not all that different then the same habitat we depend on…)

Is the focus on ‘fisheries’ for next year… or is the focus on still having similar fisheries 50 years from now…?

_ _ _ _ _ _

And, I suppose the answer is: BOTH.

We need fish and healthy habitat to have healthy, prosperous fisheries.

BUT — should that mean that the responsibility for “managing”, “administering”, and “stewarding” the two should be housed in the same place?

Is it fundamentally possible for a government bureaucracy to hold the best interests of a resource (e.g. fish, salmon, etc. and their habitat) that it intends, in turn, to kill?

— and not just a few in the case of the salmon… it was over 80% of the returning Fraser sockeye runs for well over 50 years — the supposed Maximum Sustainable Yield. And now, we’re supposed to take comfort on years like this year when it is reduced to 60% of the total Fraser Sockeye run.

A total run, that has smaller runs within it on the verge of extinction and many that have gone extinct.

Mixed stock fisheries are inherently not good for the resource.

Mixed stock means that while in the act of fishing, it is near impossible to separate, say an endangered Nechako River (mouth is at Prince George, BC) sockeye and a sockeye from a potentially healthy Adams Lake run (near Kamloops, BC).

Or, say, an endangered Skeena River steelhead from an ‘human-enhanced’ Babine Lake sockeye.

If one sets a gill net, for example, it catches largely everything that swims into it… unless they’re big enough to rip the net and free themselves.

It then becomes what we term a “trade off”…

_ _ _ _ _ _

It seems to me that it’s akin to the old practice of having cigarrette vending machines in hospitals, so that the hospitals could raise money for their administrative budgets and ‘enhance’ the bottom line…

Or, having candy and pop vending machines in schools (to raise money for bottom lines), in the midst of a population that now boasts a majority either overweight or just plain obese (and at the same time cutting physical education and sports programs).

And not realizing (or simply chalking it up to a trade-off) that this only creates a much bigger problem in the near-enough future. A completely sapped and drained medical system.

It’s the fundamental problem of many human societies… short term gain, in the midst of serious long-term repercussions (obvious ones — clear as a smokers’ exhale on a minus-20 degree morning).

Yes… again… “trade-offs”…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Personally, and maybe I’m alone on this, I just don’t think it is possible for a giant bureaucracy, largely based in Ottawa, thousands of kilometres from both the spawning grounds and the fishery, to both look after the best interests of the fish (e.g. wild salmon) and the best interests of the fisherfolks that catch them.

It’s a fundamental contradiction, that will never be overcome.

(let alone the mass complications of simply managing the fisherfolks themselves: aboriginal, commercial-industrial, commercial-sport, and sport)

No different then the folks that say a ministry can’t house both aquaculture proponents and supporters AND the divisions responsible for the conservation and preservation of wild resources.

That’s essentially like putting the ‘management’ of wild elk populations and cattle farmers in the same ministry.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Saddest of all… and yet, one positive from the Cohen Commission at this point, is these glimpses inside the grinding of gluttonous government bureaucracies.

One can review any number of email threads between senior ‘managers’ at DFO. At times, a curious process and yet also a sad process — reflecting a sad state of affairs — and the proof that many take the word “to manage” very much by its roots… the act of handwriting, which in this day in age is typing…

On the Cohen Commission website there is ‘evidence’ from yesterday’s hearings (Sept. 26). Some of those are email strings between senior managers.

In one is an ongoing email discussion surrounding an apparent “National Precautionary Approach Framework” . In there are the usual examples of how ‘the words’ and “the wording” are far more important, as are bureaucratic deadlines, than what happens on the water.

it's about the wording, folks

.

And, this below, pretty much the suggestion I’ve made in a variety of posts over the last couple years:

this “is as close as we are likely to come to making ‘eco-system’ management operational.”

“as close as we’ll come”… so how close is that?

Is this like the protective father that says to the young suitor of his 16 year old daughter — ” 20 ft. is as close as you’ll ever come to making your amorous intentions operational…” as he pats the shotgun by the door…

Using the phrase, “as close as we’ll come” generally suggests there is some significant distance between the present situation and the desired end destination.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Looking after, stewarding, and managing one of BC’s most important and valuable ‘resource’ — wild salmon runs — is farm more about ‘operational objectives’ and ‘measurable fishery objectives’ and making ‘trade-offs to inform decision-makers’…

bureaucratese bumpf

.

Maybe, it’s just me again, however, I thought it was up to the public to discuss trade-offs and inform decision-makers.

Would one assume that the ‘decision-makers’ referred to here are not the elected “decision-makers” but the autocratic, be-good & rise-to-the-top-of-the-bureaucracy (subject to the Peter Principle) decision-makers?

Would these be the root of why we’ve had to endure five public reviews/Commissions/inquiries in less than two decades?

Will the root of the contradiction inherent in this government ministry be exposed in the Cohen Commission Final Report?

Are the fate of wild salmon wrapped up in bureaucratic ‘measurable fishery objectives’, national frameworks, benchmarks, and the ever-present “trade-off”?

Or… or… have we reached a turning point?

… a tipping point?

..a change in the winds?