Tag Archives: Fraser sockeye

Fraser sockeye and pinks 2013 – the unknown unknowns…

Looking for sockeye on the Cariboo River - Sept. 2013

Looking for sockeye on the Cariboo River – Sept. 2013 – saw 1.

Many of us may be familiar with the rather famous, former US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld-ism, from a From a Press Conference at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, June 6, 2002:

Now what is the message there? The message is that there are no “knowns.” There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know. So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that’s basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.

It sounds like a riddle.It isn’t a riddle. It is a very serious, important matter.

There’s another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something exists does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn’t exist. And yet almost always, when we make our threat assessments, when we look at the world, we end up basing it on the first two pieces of that puzzle, rather than all three.

_ _ _ _ _ _

It’s a curious situation – forecasting salmon runs that is… This year on the Fraser River, fisheries scientists in all their wisdom and computer modeling (largely based on similar formats as economic modeling – and we know how ‘accurate’ those are…) – forecast in the pre-season a pink salmon return of just under 9 million humpies. [see below between blue lines and far right "run size forecasted pre-season" below "run size adopted in-season"]

Pacific Salmon Commission Sept. 6th news release

Pacific Salmon Commission Sept. 6th news release

The in-season run-size is now at 26 million.

That’s a huge miss between pre-season and in-season. Might there be a problem in the computer models and the numbers they are ‘kicking out’…?

If the situation was reversed, there would be rabid calls for judicial reviews and inquiries and so on. However, when we miss the mark on the ‘positive’ side of things… “oh, gee, wow, that’s a good thing!”

But is it? Does it still not prove the same thing – e.g., our modeling and equations are f’ed?

[a known known...?]

_ _ _ _ _ _

Similar situation with Fraser sockeye – a story we are all to familiar with.

Pre-season predictions of almost 4.8 million Fraser sockeye.

In-season estimates now suggesting over 1 million less than that – at just over 3.7 million Fraser sockeye.

That’s a big miss. [another known known?...]

However, it gets worse…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The various estimates of run-size are one thing – the actual successful upstream migration, reaching the spawning grounds (some of them over 1000 km upstream), and successfully spawning – is an entirely different story. Let alone… survival of eggs over the winter, then survival of the baby salmon, most of them 2 years in a freshwater lake avoiding trout, sturgeon, sculpin and all sorts of other predators.

Buried much deeper in the “Technical Reports” from the Pacific Salmon Commission is the more dire predictions of how many Fraser sockeye might actually make it upstream. Keep in mind this was one of the hottest years on record for water temperature on the Fraser River (many days around 22 degrees C water temp, and now running close to 18 degrees C, combined with lower flows than normal).

When this occurs – the fish experts fire up the computer models again to “kick out” some more numbers. This is the “Management Adjustment” (MA). This percentage is then taken off the in-season predicted run-size – all of which is based at the mouth of the Fraser. Essentially, this the percentage of the run that the “managers” figure will die en-route, largely due to high water temps.

Anything over 20 degree C is pretty deadly – how long could you swim upstream in water at 20 degrees C. ? (without eating…)

Pacific Salmon Commission “objectives”

Thus as the numbers in the chart above – in red – show: on each of the four run-timing groups (e.g., Early Stuart, Early Summer, Summer, and Late Summer) over 2 million sockeye are estimated to die or disappear en-route.

Predictions suggest only 1,215,500 Fraser sockeye will actually reach the spawning grounds. This is 700,000 less than what the great computer models suggest should reach the spawning grounds (the second set of red numbers).

More troubling yet… there were almost 370,000 Fraser River sockeye caught in various fisheries (see below – each of the four columns are similar to above, they are the four run-timing groups of Fraser sockeye – the farthest right column is Fraser Pinks).

Pacific Salmon Commission estimates of catch to date - Sept. 5, 2013

Pacific Salmon Commission estimates of catch to date – Sept. 5, 2013

There is no pointing of fingers implied here – as that is a much deeper hundreds year old discussion. And, that without these sockeye in many communities, dire circumstances would be that much more dire. The point here is that this resembles a classic fisheries problem over the last 100 years or so: needs and fights over dwindling and dwindling populations.

[the known knowns...?] or [unknown knowns?] or [known unknowns?]

One of the most concerning set of numbers in all of this being the immensely dwindled “Summer” group of sockeye. Close to 680,000 sockeye short of spawning goals. This is a problem.

The Summer group has historically comprised the largest portion of the Fraser sockeye populations… the numbers that make the overall Fraser sockeye populations still appear healthy. However, that grouping of populations is generally reliant on just a few specific populations returning to specific areas. This year a huge miss in predictions was the Quesnel run, as well as Chilko another historically larger run.

It was also a huge miss on Fraser Pinks, Skeena sockeye, and the list goes on… the known knowns that is.

Maybe time for a serious re-think (e.g., Think Salmon) of how we ‘manage’ these dwindling runs…? Factor in some known unknowns, and unknown unknowns…

Ghost Lake - aptly named? Quesnel River headwaters

Ghost Lake – aptly named? Quesnel River headwaters.

Fraser River sockeye forecast is blown… Again. And river temps at record highs.

Salmon management Denial Train

Salmon management Denial Train

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

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.

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:

Fraser sockeye PSC languageTthe 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.

 

Another blown Fraser salmon forecast… runs “lower than expected”…

chinook circle black

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…)

Probability means what?

"Friendliest Catch" (as in 'not')

“Friendliest Catch” (as in ‘not’)

Probability: “The quality or condition of being probable; likelihood.”

Probable: “Likely to happen or to be true.

These are a few definitions fronted by the Free Online Dictionary.

Generally, most of us use probable to suggest that this event, or that event: is probable. However, in fisheries ‘management’ on the West Coast of North America – and specifically salmon management – we now use probable in the opposite way. We now say that certain ‘forecast’ numbers are ‘probable’ to not occur.

Here’s an excerpt from the latest Pacific Salmon Commission news releases regarding Fraser Sockeye:

'probability' management

‘probability’ management

Thus, the suggestion is that there is a 75% probability that the run will not be at the 8.595 million level, and will in fact be below that.

So here’s a great way to make predictions sound fantastic “there is 100% probability that the Fraser Sockeye run will be at or below 40 million”. Say that every year and then down the road it sounds like you’ve been right every time.

Here’s my suggested new ‘financial’ management language:

new 'financial management' language

new ‘financial management’ language

However, this is my favorite quote from the news release, and hence the cartoon above:

low impact fisheries

“low impact fisheries”

Last time I checked… a dead fish is… well… a dead fish.

Won’t be long until we have ‘probability’ forecasts for ‘impacts’ of fisheries. And, yet, the great irony in all of this is that the ‘management’ actions only continue to grow as the ‘available’ catch shrinks. The classic human folly in natural systems…

The more we learn… the more we learn we don’t know. The more we don’t know… the more we figure we need to know, and thus “gentlemen, start your research engines…” – (rinse and repeat if necessary).

When it comes to most fisheries worldwide – as the allowable catch shrinks… the ‘research’ agenda, and ‘management actions’ grow. (rinse and repeat if necessary).

the more we learn

Give me one Reason…

Solving salmon mysteries

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.

The problem…?

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?

_ _ _ _ _ _

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.

Nope – fallacy of the single cause.

 

Assessing the salmon evidence… cost and costs?

cost of Justice Cohen's recommendations?

cost of Justice Cohen’s recommendations? (# Recommendations from Volume 3 report)

In reading through Justice Cohen’s 1000+ pages reports, there is quite a bit of positive recommendations, ‘conclusions’, etc. — however there are some glaring contradictions, and sad disappointments.

Justice Cohen explains his weight given to evidence in Volume 2 of the Cohen Commission Final Report: The Uncertain Future of Fraser Sockeye – Causes of the Decline:

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.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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]

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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…

Yea…ok…

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.

Hmmm.

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!

(cost of that opinion… well… FREE).

Presence … absence … presents … absents… & into the Annals of “was”

 

presence - absence ?

presence – absence ?

Maybe George Orwell said it best some 60+ years or so ago, in his essay: Politics and the English Language.

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.

This from Volume 2 of the Cohen Commission Final Report: The Uncertain Future of Fraser Sockeye – Causes of the Decline. A discussion by one ‘witness’ in the Commission discussing factors in declines of Fraser sockeye:

 “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 they may have weakened the fish over time, such that when they went to sea they may have been more vulnerable.

death of a thousand cuts

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 have3

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?

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…

Hmmmm…

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

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”…

Justice Cohen’s Data Gap?

data gap: "Any missing data that impairs your ability to meet your project goals"... what are our project goals?

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.

Hmmmm…..

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?

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…

Hmmmm.

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.

Simple equation… difficult execution.

too much politics and economics in the way…

 

SALMONGATE: ‘Joe’ at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says: “It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour… and we will win the war, also.”

This is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency: responsible for your food safety!

“Concentrate on the headlines — that’s often all that people read or remember” says Cornelius Kiley at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Well, ‘Joe’ & ‘Corny’ (and other CFIA and DFO staff) this headline goes out to you…. cheers, salmonguy.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

“It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour… and we will win the war, also” says ‘Joe’ [Joseph Beres] the BC manager of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

How are you feeling about the safety of your food now?

And to think that Joe and Corny and others included in the email (including Stephen Stephen from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans) are most likely in the high $100,000+/year wage scale. Take a look at the wage scales in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for the highest executive levels…

Performance Pay – Levels EX-05
Effective Date Minimum Maximum
From: Effective April 1, 2010 $163,100 $191,900
Effective April 1, 2011 $166,100 $195,300
Effective April 1, 2012 $168,600 $198,300

 

If the Canadian Food Inspection Agency top staff and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (and the BC Government) think that it’s about headlines and winning PR wars… what does that say about the safety of our food in Canada?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

It’s been said on this blog a lot: “marketing is everything and everything is marketing”

It seems quite clear that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans fully agree — and add in the Privy Council Office that answers directly to PM Harper (but then we know that they fully subscribe to the “marketing is everything, everything is marketing” school-of-thought. [Hence, why one of PM Harper's main staff people moved over from one of Canada's oil companies...]

CBC is running an article on this issue today:

Government email makes waves at salmon inquiry

“It is clear that we are turning the PR tide in our favour, and this is because of the very successful performance of our spokes at the tech briefing,” CFIA B.C. manager Joseph Beres wrote.

“One battle is won, now we have to nail the surveillance piece, and we will win the war, also.”

“Spokes” most likely refers to spokespeople. [that's so cute]

But then… what well paid public/civil service employee then sends out an email like this, knowing full well that it can be accessed through Freedom of Information (FOI) or government sponsored judicial/public inquiries?

Along with the 400 pink slips being handed out to DFO employees, maybe there’s another one coming to this group of CFIA employees and to Stephen Stephen at DFO (no that’s not a typo, that’s his real catchy name).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The CFIA home page states:

Welcome to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which enhances the health and well-being of Canada’s people, environment and economy.

[So I'm wondering 'Joe' and 'Corny' and Stephen Stephen at DFO -- how does farmed salmon from the BC Coast laced with both ISA and heart and skeletal muscle inflammation virus (or HSMI) ENHANCE the health and well-being of Canada's people (let alone the environment and economy)?]

&

Accountability

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) continuously strives to be transparent and accountable in how it does business.

The CFIA is accountable to Canadians and reports to Parliament through key documents.

[So how is the CFIA and Parliament going to account for this accountability? -- this is a cover up, and it's shameful... more so through the arrogance of civil service employees...]

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Scroll down a little here and you’ll see good ol’ Infectious Salmon Anemia (anémie infestieuse du saumon) tucked in between things like: “highly pathogenic avian influenza” “Foot and Mouth disease” “koi herpesvirus disease” and “lumpy skin disease.”

Nasty stuff!

And, yet Senior managers at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency figure this is a “public relations war” where we manipulate news headlines for that silly, dumb public…

embarrassing, shameful, and worthy of serious repercussions — wouldn’t you say?

Reportable Diseases Regulations

Health of Animals Act (S.C. 1990, c. 21)

SCHEDULE

(Section 2)

REPORTABLE DISEASES

 

  • African horse sickness
  • peste équine
  • African swine fever
  • peste porcine africaine
  • anaplasmosis
  • anaplasmose
  • anthrax
  • fièvre charbonneuse
  • bluetongue
  • fièvre catarrhale du mouton
  • Bonamia ostreae
  • bovine spongiform encephalopathy
  • bovine tuberculosis (M. bovis)
  • brucellosis
  • ceratomyxosis (Ceratomyxa shasta)
  • chronic wasting disease of cervids
  • classical swine fever (hog cholera)
  • contagious bovine pleuropneumonia
  • contagious equine metritis
  • cysticercosis
  • epizootic haematopoietic necrosis
  • equine infectious anaemia
  • equine piroplasmosis (B. equi and B. caballi)
  • foot and mouth disease (FMD)
  • fowl typhoid (Salmonella gallinarum)
  • Haplosporidium nelsoni
  • highly pathogenic avian influenza
  • infectious haematopoietic necrosis
  • infectious pancreatic necrosis
  • infectious salmon anaemia

  • anémie infestieuse du saumon
  • koi herpesvirus disease
  • lumpy skin disease
  • Marteilia refringens
  • Marteiliodes chungmuensis
  • Mikrocytos mackini
  • Newcastle disease
  • Perkinsus marinus
  • Perkinsus olseni
  • peste des petits ruminants
  • pseudorabies (Aujeszky’s disease)
  • pullorum disease (S. pullorum)
  • rabies
  • Rift Valley fever
  • rinderpest
  • scrapie
  • sheep and goat pox
  • spring viraemia of carp
  • swine vesicular disease
  • Taura syndrome
  • trichinellosis
  • Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis
  • vesicular stomatitis
  • viral haemorrhagic septicaemia
  • whirling disease (Myxobolus cerebralis)
  • white spot disease
  • white sturgeon iridoviral disease
  • yellow head disease

 

SALMONGATE! Testimony today and yesterday at Cohen Commission demonstrating DFO and Canada Food Inspection Agency willingly hiding salmon disease from public.

An email entered as evidence at the Cohen Commission today (#2110) from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) employee, Joseph Beres, states (in relation to the DFO and CFIA public relations efforts to stifle news of Infectious Salmon Anemia on the Pacific Coast in wild Pacific salmon):

 It is clear that we are turning the PR tide to our favour…one battle is won, now we have to nail the surveillance piece, and we will win the war… Concentrate on the headlines, that’s often all that people read or remember. Both the “Top Stories” and the “Related Pieces”.

This appears to be in support of a press release on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website dated Oct. 24, 2011 stating, and this is a direct quote from the DFO press release:

 In short, there has never been a confirmed case of ISA in British Columbia salmon – farmed or wild.

It would appear that, in short, this is an absolute and complete LIE.

(aka: “An intentionally false statement.”)

I did a quick search for what it means when public service/civil service employees lie. Came across a curious quote:

Sir Henry Taylor argued that though the first principles of morality in regard to truth are plain and definite, the derivative principles, and their application in practice are not so: ‘… falsehood ceases to be falsehood when it is understood at all levels that the truth is not expected to be spoken.’

[the other mind blower in here... do public service employees not understand that emails can be requested under Freedom of Information or otherwise... are there not courses on "don't say stupid shit on email"?]

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

An article in the LA Times in early December coined the phrase: SALMONGATE.

Did Canada cover up deadly salmon virus? Report suggests yes

Call it Salmongate. The deepening controversy over who knew what and when about a deadly virus that may or may not have been detected in West Coast salmon would be obscure fodder for biologists if there weren’t so much at stake — the health of the West’s dwindling stocks of wild salmon, for one. And Canada’s $2.1-billion fish farming industry.

Testimony today at the Cohen Commission into Fraser River salmon declines — being streamed out on social media, as there is no public streaming of the hearings — as well as on an article relased on the Globe & Mail website just a little while ago, is demonstrating willful misleading of the public and international trade partners.

And not just misleading the public, but intimidating various individuals trying to get this information out to the public and into scientific circles so immediate action can be taken:

Federal agency accused of intimidation over salmon disease

Scientists who uncovered the first signs that infectious salmon anemia is present on the West Coast have found themselves shunned and intimidated by federal government officials, the Cohen Commission has heard.

Dr. Kibenge said shortly after SFU went public he was called by government officials who had questions about how his lab operated.

Dr. Kibenge told the Cohen Commission, which is inquiring into the collapse of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River, that he initially thought the CFIA was interested in finding how his lab could work co-operatively with a DFO lab they use for ISA testing, in Moncton, New Brunswick.

But he said after officials arrived, he realized they were really more interested in finding faults with his operation as a means to undermine the credibility of his ISA virus findings.

His lab is one of only a handful certified by the World Organization for Animal Health for ISA testing and he is a recognized expert on the virus.

Mr. McDade suggested to Dr. Kibenge that had he reported negative results for the ISA virus, he wouldn’t have been subject to any CFIA scrutiny.

“I agree, yeah,” he said. “Negative findings are very easy to deal with. . .it’s the positive findings that are difficult to accept.”

Dr. Kibenge’s lab in 2007 confirmed the first occurrence of ISA in farmed Atlantic salmon in Chile, where the virus triggered a disease outbreak that killed millions of salmon.

The Cohen Commission has also heard that Molly Kibenge, Dr. Kibenge’s wife, had found evidence of the ISA virus in 2002 and 2003 while doing research at the Pacific Biological Station. But DFO denied her request to publish that research, saying her findings were in doubt because another lab failed to repeat her findings.

_ _ _ _ _ _

If heads don’t roll over this, I’ll be floored.

Infectious Salmon Anemia is listed right up there with foot-and-mouth disease, mad cow disease, and others — as diseases that need to be reported to the public and to trade partners… immediately.

Denial is not an option.

Plus, with ISA on the coast, and senior government managers purposefully misleading superiors on this issue, and then the story coming to light, and DFO and the CFIA spend their time mounting a credibility attack and public relations campaign — as opposed to immediate direct and affirmative action to act upon the disease.

Maybe there is an imminent shake up coming to a government ministry near you…