Tag Archives: salmon ocean ranching

Alaskan salmon fisheries: is this sustainable – or a great intervention?

During a quick look around Twitter and the ‘tweets’ of some fishy folk, I came across various news articles from other geographic areas with wild salmon fisheries. It got me pondering the great Alaskan salmon fisheries experiment

Here is salmon catch in Alaska for the last century… or so… (the PNP program is the “public — non-profit program” for running salmon hatcheries – ocean ranching operations).


Are these levels sustainable into the future?

Is there any way possible that this is sustainable into the future?

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Here are two other telling graphs:


Anchovies... South America

Canada's North Atlantic cod catch


Is there a trend here?










That trend has a common shape… and curiously the Alaskan commercial salmon catch has a price trend that may be foreshadowing the catch trend…



(Remember, there was no shortage of salmon being caught prior to 1878 — especially in Alaska where Russian and other ‘explorers’ and ‘settlers’ were pillaging the coast for sea otter furs for quite some time prior to 1878 — And First Nations and Inuit had been harvesting wild salmon for eons prior to ‘contact’ — including in a commercial context for trade…

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Now, let’s add another even more worrisome trend into this Alaskan commercial salmon catch graph:


Hatchery to wild salmon commercial catch in Alaska

This graph comes compliments of “The Great Salmon Run: competition between farmed and wild salmon” (Knapp, Roheim and Anderson, 2007). It’s suggesting that the average hatchery-salmon catch is starting to approach 25% of the commercial catch in Alaska — or ocean ranching as they call it.

As the black boxes in the graph demonstrate, and as history most likely teaches us, the great intervention will need to continue to maintain catch levels that high. As we move into the second and third decades of the 2000s the hatchery-ocean ranching intervention will need to continue and the percentage of catch supplied by human intervention will continue.

The potential problem here is that this is a nasty little cycle that no one really wants to talk about…

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Hatcheries/Ocean ranching operations in Alaska are run by the PNPs — the “public — non-profit partnerships” . These were formed in the 1970s and 80s when the State of Alaska took over management of wild salmon from the Feds (as shown in the graphs).

These PNPs are largely operated by commercial fishing associations and the like. This means that the hatcheries-ocean ranching operations were set up under the same auspices of Canada’s Salmon Enhancement Program (SEP) — to increase salmon production and therefore increase commercial salmon catches.

These grand industrial/ecological balance upsetting experiments began in earnest in the 1970s. A time of a different mainstream cultural mindset, and a different understanding of ecological processes (well… sort of…).

In Alaska, the key to keeping these PNP Aquaculture Associations (hatchery-ocean ranching operations) afloat is that salmon caught commercially have:

FIRST — a cost recovery component and then

SECOND — a profit motive for the commercial fishing folks.

However, as one can see in the graphs above — stupendous salmon catch levels are being maintained at over 200 million fish across Alaska; YET the price levels are falling faster than the 2008 Dow Jones stock market index. (And cracks are starting to show in whether these catch levels can be maintained — see Yukon River fishery disaster at end of post)

And just like the stock market, sure there’s been a little blip back up in price — but nothing that resembles past price levels.

What does this mean for the Alaskan Hatchery-Ocean Ranching Operations?

Here’s a sample from one of the annual reports: The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association 2008 Annual Report.

Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association (CIAA) was created to make more salmon for all users in Cook Inlet. Our forefathers hoped to provide a home for salmon biology; to gather ideas and knowledge, and a means of broadcasting this science to fishing communities and to the general public. These founding visionaries clearly planned to have a hatchery. (my emphasis)

Quite a fascinating opening to an annual report… I’m not one to quite buy-in to the philosophy of salmon hatcheries as manifest destiny… however, each to their own…

The annual report goes on to explain:

Meanwhile, the CIAA hatchery program also continues to financially struggle. A new sockeye project at Tutka Bay was very successful in 2008. Recent high prices for early hatchery-produced sockeye at Resurrection Bay have also shown promise. I’m currently holding my breath and hoping adjustments to the cost recovery program are successful, concurrent with improvements in ocean survival for the Resurrection Bay stocking.

About 15 hatcheries across Alaska have closed and facilities at Crooked Creek, Eklutna, Port Graham, and Tutka Bay are among them. These sites continue to be used for various projects, but at a fraction of their capabilities. I believe CIAA needs to find funding to maintain operation of Trail Lakes Hatchery. Achieving escapement goals for all systems in Cook Inlet and financing a hatchery are challenging endeavors, but they are essential for the many users of today’s salmon.

We need to find a way through the financial problems we are facing and then begin to build a healthy revenue reserve. The men and women who founded CIAA were wise to do so. I am proud to join them in their effort to realize more salmon for all users.

And so now hatchery/ocean ranching operations are having to close due to financial hardship. Furthermore, some of the practices such as lake fertilization, and mass hatchery operations are starting to show some serious issues on the ecological front. Some of these are even highlighted in the good old Marine Stewardship Council audits of the Alaskan salmon fishery (however, that’s a separate post…)

In short, the mass practice of hatchery releases has huge impacts on wild, self-sustaining populations — in terms of loss of genetic diversity and in terms of giving a false sense of security in opening certain fisheries.

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And so now the vicious cycle begins — something akin to this:


Alaskan PNPs... the vicious cycle

And so what is a State government to do?

It has set this mess up through its devolution from Fed responsibility.

If more hatcheries go belly up (like a salmon in an oil spill) this means less salmon going to sea and the less salmon we will see (returning).

This means lower catch, which means less $$ for commercial fishing industry… and less $$ in cost-recovery initiatives of these public — non-profit aquaculture operations.

Less fish going out, less fish coming in, less money coming in.

Interim solution?

Catch more fish to bring in more $$ to curb the debt load.

Catching more fish means less fishing spawning and producing naturally. Less fish producing naturally, and less fish being propagated by humans — means less fish to catch down the road.

What does this all set up?

Government bail-out.

Bail out of the fishing industry — like US government had to do on the Yukon River last year.

Anchorage Daily News reporting in January 2010:

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke declared a commercial fishing disaster for Yukon River king salmon Friday following two years of poor runs, fishing restrictions and bans.

“Communities in Alaska along the Yukon River depend heavily on chinook salmon for commercial fishing, jobs and food,” Locke said in a statement from the Commerce Department. “Alaska fishermen and their families are struggling with a substantial loss in income and revenues.”

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When we intervene with most anything — e.g. oil-rich dictator run countries — history suggests that these interventions can — in the long-run — become very, very expensive and sometimes counterproductive.

When it comes to wild salmon — the interventions are endless (hatcheries, fertilization schemes, fake habitat construction, and so on…).

The problem is that once the interventions start ‘working’ everyone seems to forget they were interventions in the first place. And so we return to how things used to be — before the interventions…

The result?

A worse frigging situation than prior to the intervention.

Look at the US bank and auto industry bailout packages — do you really think the ridiculous executive compensation packages have stopped?

Or, that auto executives curbed their flying around in private jets?

Are individual citizens taking the example of debt out-of-control and curbing their own household debt?


Maybe we need to look at the root of the word and put it in the right context…

intervene comes from Latin intervenire “to come between, interrupt.”

Various definitions suggest: “Come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events”

Or most fitting for this situation: “Occur as a delay or obstacle to something being done.”

And what were we, or are we, “delaying”?

The inevitable.

If we continue to hammer away at salmon runs and at salmon habitats and ignore the potential perils of climate change and its affect on salmon and their habitat… we will reach a time when no intervention will offset the inevitable collapse…

What are we potentially delaying in relation to “something being done”.

That’s called lack of political will… (and public pressure)

And nobody wants to make the real tough decision… e.g. intervene on the interventions… because that will cost…

And the public has a tough time exerting pressure because the world of salmon and “salmon management” has become the world of technocrats, techno-bumpf, endless hundreds of pages government documents, inaccessible meetings flooded with inaccessible PowerPoint presentations, inaccessible government bureaucrats (e.g. “sorry that’s not my department), inaccessible language, and legislation that simply is not enforced, legal teams with little interest in enforcing and the list goes on…

Is it time for a full-on public intervention?

A Citizen’s Assembly on Wild Salmon?


Salmon for the Future: test tube babies — more interventionist solutions?

Salmon for the future?


Another salmon article from Mark Hume last week in the Globe and Mail:

Bold experiment hopes to boost salmon population in B.C. waters

Carol Schmitt got up early for the move because she had a lot to pack – 48,500 live salmon to be exact.

Luckily she had rented a semi-trailer tanker truck the night before, sterilizing it so the fish could safely be transported from the Omega Pacific Hatchery, near Port Alberni, to the Sarita River, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The fish – precious not only because Chinook are endangered in many places in British Columbia, but also because they are part of a bold experiment – had to be handled with care.

Unlike millions of salmon that are being released from Department of Fisheries and Oceans hatcheries in B.C. this spring, Ms. Schmitt’s fish have been held almost one year longer and grown more slowly, to mimic conditions in nature.

“Mimic conditions in nature”… hmmmmm….

Here’s the photo that accompanies the online story:

Globe and Mail photo

So are the two people in the photo mimicking trees?

Or, are they mimicking the kingfishers in the trees that love to eat baby Chinook?

Or the multitude of other birds that love baby salmon?

from Flickr -- caspian tern


No disrespect intended towards Ms. Schmitt or others involved in the article… I can understand the excitement of the project…

However, let’s just keep things in perspective.

I’m sure many folks out there remember the time when the forest industry sold clearcuts as simply “mimicking natural disturbances”…

Like this clearcut on west coast Vancouver Island:


"mimicking nature"?

Just like nature makes it… (this isn’t all that far from the areas where these test-tube Chinook are to be released on west-coast Vancouver Island in this “bold experiment”)

Or this string of photos from a Seattle Times article a few years ago. This is the great logging empire Weyerhaueser mimicking nature…

"mimicking nature" -- Seattle Times photos

And no worries, I’m sure that’s not a salmon stream at the bottom.



more Seattle Times photos -- 2009

And this from a story out of the Everett, WA newspaper in 2008 when the Chehalis River flooded in epic proportions. (don’t worry probably not a salmon stream either… anymore…)


just "natural"

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The Globe and Mail article continues:

DFO releases Chinook from hatcheries at eight months of age. The fish are known as S-0s, because they are smolts, with less than one year in freshwater. Ms. Schmitt’s approach, perfected over decades growing salmon for B.C. salmon farms, is to keep the fish for 17 months, raising them in water as cold as the native stream from which their brood stock originated. And she restricts feed, so the fish mature more slowly. Those fish are known as S-1s and she believes such “stream type Chinook” are the key to the restoration of wild salmon populations in B.C.

“If you raise them in warmer water and feed them lots, as DFO does, they grow bigger and faster, but you trigger ‘smoltification’ too soon,” Ms. Schmitt said.

Smoltification is when young salmon undergo dramatic physiological changes, turning from fry into smolts, as they adapt for the move from freshwater to salt water.

DFO’s Chinook look ready when they are released, but their immune systems aren’t fully evolved, she said – and most will die from vibriosis, a bacterial disease that attacks fish in salt or brackish water.

“I feel 85 to 90 per cent of federal S-0s are dead within four to six months,” Ms. Schmitt said.

The statistics appear to bear that out, as DFO typically gets only about 1 per cent of its hatchery salmon back as adults. On the Sarita River, only 500 Chinook spawners returned last year – 0.1 per cent of the fish DFO had released as S-0s four years earlier.

Ms. Schmitt, with whom DFO is working on an experimental trial of S-1s on three Vancouver Island rivers, said she is expecting returns of up to 10 per cent.

“If you ship those fish out as S-0s you are accelerating the decline of the river,” she said. “If you release them as proper S-1s, you will get three to ten times as many fish back.”

Ms. Schmitt said in Alaska, releases of S-1 Chinook have resulted in returns as high as 22 per cent.

“Can you imagine what returns like that would mean in B.C.?” she asked. “That would be incredible. It’s pretty exciting stuff.”

With funding support from DFO and four fish farm companies (Mainstream Canada, Marine Harvest Canada, Creative Salmon and Grieg Seafood), Ms. Schmitt is doing trial releases this week of about 100,000 salmon in the Sarita, Phillips and Nahmint Rivers. The first release was Wednesday.

She said it has been tough to get to this point, because DFO has been resistant to change. “Getting DFO to allow us to participate in enhancement has and continues to be a challenge.”

DFO was unable to provide a spokesman to talk about the Omega project.

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There are so many things that strike me about this project and article… many of them striking a bit of a sour cord. Maybe this initiative will bear results… however the experiment of “salmon enhancement” for the last many decades has few ‘success’ stories. (the thing with interventions, is they generally become permanent…)

As you can probably already tell by the pounce on “mimicking nature” … Without knowing a lot more about this specific project… yet, about the only natural mimicking I can see is that the water is colder…

The rest truly is an “experiment”… and really how have our experiments with nature gone?

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The ‘companies’ are having some difficulties getting acceptance. Yeah… well… there could be some ethical and other considerations that may need to be considered here.

When private companies start investing in producing fish; could they not rightly express some “ownership” of these fish when they return to spawn?

Or do these fish simply enter the common pool and become lead actors in that famous Shakespearean play “Tragedy of the Commons”…?

Not that I don’t doubt that companies can’t do altruistic, well-intentioned things; however, it does run against the flow of the corporate modus operandi… profit.

But then of course there is some social capital and goodwill gained in this type of effort… isn’t there?

And, don’t you know it… salmon farming companies need some good press these days; and not the kind that gets purchased in multi-million $$ PR campaigns…

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Test-tube salmon “are the key to the restoration of wild salmon populations in B.C.“?

Last time I checked, ‘restoration‘ meant something like:

The return of something to a former owner, place, or condition.

This is about as much “restoration” as lipsosuction and a face lift is “restoration” to one’s youth…

It’s pretty tough to “restore” these sorts of things once they’re gone:

slide from my presentation to Cohen Commission

Or this:

We really need to be careful when we start batting around terms like “restoration”…

It’s important to ‘mean what we say and say what we mean’…

Hatchery interventions can be used to assist in rehabilitation of some areas… however, they can’t be a permanent solution.

Let’s for example look at some of the numbers quoted in the success of DFO’s enhancement efforts.

If they’re getting 0.1% return on investment… does that sound like a sound strategy? That’s worse returns then the common chequing account these days…

But then the initial goals of the Salmon Enhancement Program were:

The Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP) was established in 1977 with objective of restoring stocks of salmon to their historic levels of abundance.

How’s that going?

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Making comparisons to Alaskan returns, just isn’t going to cut it.

Different practices (e.g. ocean ranching); different migration patterns; different investments; different priorities.

Seems its convenient in situations like test-tube salmon babies to forget the issues in the ocean — e.g. lower productivity, etc. — but when it comes to judicial inquiries, fisheries ‘management’, etc. then all of a sudden the discussion of poor ocean conditions and the like become prevalent.

(is that because it makes easier… rather than looking in a mirror… and at history)

At some point we need to make a choice on what the issues are…

For example, what’s the point of spending millions of dollars to send test-tube babies out to the ocean if productivity remains low…?

what’s the point of sending test-tube babies out to the wild if the streams they have to return to are largely clearcut to the banks…?

Go down to the Lower 48 and see what sort of success they’ve had at spending upwards of a billion $$ on salmon habitat rehab and hatcheries… ask how many fish they’re catching?

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We are far past the point of “restoring” salmon.

Are we all that far off from basically preserving zoo populations and setting up kids fishing ponds…?

Salmon fishing derbies of the future?

Rather than fumbling around trying to do better what nature already does perfectly (for millions of years) why don’t we clean up the mess we made in the first place?

The problem with salmon isn’t that they need “help” reproducing… they been doing that well before we came along. It’s more that if we’re all to co-exist; then we need to look after the neighborhoods that we co-exist in… for example: watersheds, rivers, lakes, and so on.

With the rapid changes coming due to climate change (less cold water, ocean acidification, water shortages, etc.)… wild salmon are going to need a lot of help making sure their neighborhoods are fit for spawning, dieing, and reproducing in.

Just like your neighborhood… pretty hard to spawn in a mudslide isn’t it?

(fun to wrestle in maybe… not so much fun after that…)

Another unfortunate, misinformed media article on Fraser sockeye.

Unfortunately, this is probably on the top ten list for worst researched, misinformed Fraser sockeye articles.

Globe and Mail,  Monday Aug. 30th by Gary Mason (who generally writes sports articles and others…)

B.C. should look to Alaska for tips on salmon management

From the opening to the close, this article is wrong on so many fronts, although he’s quite right on DFO’s worst blown forecast ever this year on Fraser sockeye.

I left a comment on the article on the G & M page, but one is limited to 2000 characters in those comments. Several others left some not-so-kind remarks — however there was a common theme of ‘more research required prior to publishing’, please.

Mason’s article:

…Worse, even as the sockeye began returning to the Fraser River in droves in late August, DFO refused to allow a fishery. It had to make sure it wasn’t seeing things. Consequently, millions of sockeye were lost while DFO dithered – money that cash-strapped fishermen desperately need.

Wrong, there were several commercial openings for Fraser sockeye as well as an open sport fishery on the river. I’m curious where the salmon were “lost” to?

Oh no, wait… you don’t mean “lost” Mr. Mason… you mean they swam upstream to spawn… Now that’s a novel thing for salmon to do.

I don’t disagree that fishermen are most likely cash-strapped… however, there is no shortage in history of groups of workers dependent on natural resources having to move on to new careers and livelihoods. It’s not pleasant… however, rather common in B.C. and Canada — often as a result of mis-management of the natural resources in question in the first place.

North Atlantic cod is the first that comes to mind.

Or how about the B.C. endangered logger? The forest industry is still a disaster in BC and many folks have had to move on to new livelihoods. Or how about entire communities: Cassiar (once a great asbestos mining town), or Tasu (once a thriving mining town on the west coast of Haida Gwaii) — or Rose Harbor (once a thriving whaling community now within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site) — or Kitsault an old mining town (molybdenum) north of Prince Rupert listed for sale in 2004 for $7 million.

These are unfortunate occurrences — however, do happen. All too often with commercial fisheries, and have occurred in commercial salmon fishing fleets across B.C. Maybe the finger can be pointed to mis-management; however, we have all played a part.

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Mason’s article:

Alaska harvested more than 170 million salmon in 2009, compared to the near-complete disappearance of the species in B.C. in the same year.

No… not all BC salmon species “disappeared” — mainly just Fraser sockeye — one BC salmon species. Other BC salmon are showing long-term declines, but have not “disappeared”. There were still 10 million salmon harvested in BC last year. Plus, didn’t the Marine Stewardship Council just “eco-certify” all BC sockeye salmon fisheries? And close to ‘eco-certifying’ a bunch of the chum and pink fisheries?

That doesn’t sounds like “near-complete disappearance”… the MSC is apparently “world-leading” in “eco-certifying sustainable fisheries”…

What was thought to be evidence of a complete collapse of the West Coast salmon fishery prompted the federal government to set up a commission to investigate. Then, a year later, 30 million turn up at the door of the Fraser. What gives?

Wrong… there was not a complete collapse of the West Coast salmon fishery (see above); nor, did that prompt government to set up a public inquiry (Cohen “commission”).

There was a significantly blown forecast for Fraser sockeye in 2009 (one species comprising the entire West Coast salmon fishery) and this was the third year in a row there was no Fraser sockeye commercial openings. This is clearly laid out in the preamble to the Cohen Commission.

“What gives?”

Well… Fraser sockeye are cyclical. Just because 35 million+ is now the total 2010 forecast run size for Fraser sockeye does not suggest that all is good in the hood. One of the suggested reasons for a big run this year is favorable ocean conditions (La Nina) coupled with reduced harvests in the four year cycle previously (e.g. 2006 and 2002). Those two years also saw decent returns and some very high effective female spawner estimates.

In three years we are still going to see the return from last year’s run which was suggested to be just over 1 million total — which does not equate to 1 million effective spawners.

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That, to me, sounds like the commission will be examining how the DFO conducts business and sets policies and whether those policies are working.

As a point of reference, Mr. Cohen may want to look at how Alaska baits its hooks.

Yes, I agree with this point. Justice Cohen is mandated to look at how DFO conducts business. Of course, this is the fifth time in the last two decades that this has occurred and changes are slower than mice running in molasses (in the fridge).

Of course the great challenge for Justice Cohen is that policies written on paper are about worth as much as the sheets of paper. Where the mice can run free and clear is in how those policies are actually implemented on the ground. For example, the Wild Salmon Policy, which is full of great words and ideas… but in reality, on the ground, in the real world — poorly implemented, underfunded, bumpf-filled, and near-impossible to actually achieve

For example, true “ecosystem-based management” (EBM)… if we used and implemented EBM, then we wouldn’t be talking about “lost” or “wasted” salmon, when they are simply swimming upstream to do whatever it was that the creator/universe intended for them to do: be food for bears, eagles, racoons, etc. or maybe even spawn… not because “cash-strapped fishers” didn’t catch them and sell them to Wal-Mart at bargain basement prices.

Because the oft-admired Alaskan sockeye fishery occurs well before the BC sockeye fishery… BC fisherfolks are pumping sockeye into an already flooded market. This means lower prices; this means un-economic returns; this means little relief of the “cash-strapped”.

Like anything, selling more doesn’t necessarily mean making more… it’s those wonderfully dry terms of economics called “supply and demand”. Throw in some capacity of the marketplace to deal with an influx of fish, and “houston, we have a problem”. Right now in Vancouver and suburbs, fisherfolks may be catching lots of fish but are being forced to sell them dockside off their boats, as there just isn’t the capacity (or demand) at canneries and fish markets (they’re already aflood with sockeye from other places).

So… if we want to talk “wasted” or “lost” fish — what happens when BC fisherfolks on the Fraser are left with a surplus of sockeye that they can’t sell? I might have some proposed recipes.

(by the way Mr. Mason, I don’t think Alaska does much baiting of hooks, most of their fisheries are net-based)

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The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Salmon Management Model is one of the most successful in the world when it comes to sustaining a sometimes temperamental species of fish…

Not so fast; as I recommend in my comments to the article Mr. Mason may want to do a web search on the Yukon River Chinook fishery disaster declared on last year’s fishery. See earlier posts on this site: Fishery disasters and brave, brave decisions… and Alaskan fishery disasters and Marine Stewardship Council – don’t worry… it’s sustainable.

Or the fact that Alaska has one of the world’s biggest salmon ocean ranching programs. See earlier post: how do we define “wild”? or search it online. 2.5 billion salmon fry pumped out into the North Pacific every year from Alaska, all of which will never know a river. 95% of Prince William Sound commercial salmon fishery is ocean-ranched salmon.

So, really, how do we measure or define “most successful in the world”?

Enbridge purports to have “world-leading” safety standards — yet, as their pipeline rupture and resultant spill in Michigan is proving… maybe those “world-leading standards” are simply self-defined on paper…

Plus, it’s not that difficult to be “sustainable” when you have a sparsely populated state, fish that migrate in northern sections of the North Pacific, and wonderful intact habitat… (bit of an apples and oranges comparison… both fruits; but rather different)

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B.C. fishermen probably should have harvested about 80 to 90 per cent of the current 30-million-plus salmon run. Yet, because of the DFO’s reluctance to open the fishery until it could verify the run size, 10 million fish are estimated to have been lost.

That wouldn’t have happened in Alaska. We should find out why.

As I ask in my comment to the article — show me where Alaska has successfully harvested 80-90% of their sockeye runs for many cycle years and been succesful. Their harvest yields are closer to 50% of total run and have been for decades. DFO’s have been in the 80% range since the 1950s; and we can see what that got us.

I think maybe Mr. Mason has bought a little too much into the fishery suggestions of Dr. Carl Walters who has been quoted in numerous articles and has stated in several radio interviews that we should be harvesting closer to 80% of this year’s Fraser sockeye run.

As I also point out in my comments to the article and in other posts on this site. Over 70% of the Fraser sockeye run this year is comprised of one stock — the Adams/Weaver run is predicted to be over 24 million of a total run size of about 35 million.

There are estimated to be over 200 separate stocks of sockeye in the Fraser River. Many of which are teetering on extirpation or extinction and several smaller stocks that no one even knows their status. And thus, if we run out and harvest 80-90% of the total run… (at the time of Mason’s article the total run size was hovering around 30 million; it’s now upwards of 35 million.)

Therefore, we harvest 80-90% of the run (as suggested by Mason in the article and Dr. Walters in other forums) which leaves 3.5 million (90% harvested) to 7 million (80% harvested) total run size. Subtract off the “management adjustments”, a percentage attached to total predicted marine run size to account for in-river mortality due to water levels and temperatures — that number has hovered around 15% for the Summer Group and 35% for the Late Summer Group (which incl. the Adams run).

Oh… well if we took 80-90% in commercial fisheries and then had to subtract 35% to account for in-river mortality. Well… we’d be at a negative run size: -15% if we harvested 80% and -25% if we harvested 90% (negative run sizes might have BC implementing ocean-ranching tout de suite…)

So let’s say we’re not that stupid. Let’s say we take the total run size, then subtract off the management adjustment (MA), then suggest a 80-90% exploitation rate. Or let’s just pretend there is no in-river mortality (i.e. MA).

Well… with the estimates of overall Fraser productivity over the last decade (remember this graph):

Salmon Think Tank graph produced by Pacific Salmon Commission Chief Biologist

Let’s give it a healthier than shown productivity rate of 2 adult returns per spawner.

Total run size forecast in marine areas at 35 million: 35 million – 80% exploitation = 7 million fish with potential to reach spawning grounds.


35 million – 90% exploitation = 4.5 million potentially reaching spawning grounds.

Ok, 4.5 million to 7 million spawners multiplied by an overly optimistic productivity of 2 adults returning per spawner leaves us with a potential total run size in 4 years of 9 to 14 million. That’s about 2.5 to 4 times less than the total run size this year.

If we repeat the same practice in 4 years (2014) we’d have an even smaller run four years after that (2018) —  if productivity levels remain low, as many predict them to do so.

This sounds brilliant.

Maybe Mr. Mason should stick to sports and real estate articles.