Tag Archives: west coast salmon

“There’s always the human factor…” says U.S. Coast Guard, as oil tanker hits San Fran Bay Bridge

from Silicon Valley Mercury News

from Silicon Valley Mercury News

The headline from the National Post reads: Oil tanker crashes into San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge:

An empty oil tanker caused minor damage Monday when it struck a tower in the middle of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge while navigating beneath the hulking span, officials said.

The 752-foot Overseas Reymar rammed the tower about 11:20 a.m. as it headed out to sea, according to the Coast Guard and state transportation officials. It didn’t affect traffic on the busy bridge, which is the main artery between San Francisco and Oakland, Ney said.

OSG Ship Management Inc., which is the parent company that owns the Marshall Islands-registered ship, said the vessel hit an underwater portion of the massive bridge structure.

Investigators had not yet determined the cause of the crash.

“There’s always the human factor,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Shawn Lansing said. “That is again what we’ll look into and see whether, in fact, it was a human error or something else and take that into consideration in the development of future regulation.”

Visibility at the time was about a quarter-mile, but officials didn’t say if that was a factor.

from Silicon Valley Mercury News

from Silicon Valley Mercury News

The Silicon Valley Mercury News reports Pilot in Bay Bridge oil tanker crash had three accidents since 2009:

…The pilot of the ship was identified as Guy Kleess, 61, of San Francisco, a former Exxon oil tanker captain who has been involved in at least three other shipping accidents since 2009.

The incident provided a stark reminder of a similar Bay Bridge collision five years ago, when the Cosco Busan, a 901-foot-long cargo ship, hit the adjacent tower of the Bay Bridge, spilling 53,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel into the bay, fouling 69 miles of shoreline and killing thousands of birds.

That an oil tanker similar in size to the Exxon Valdez, with the capacity to haul millions of gallons of heavy crude oil, hit a bridge in San Francisco Bay alarmed environmentalists.

This last line is particularly entertaining… what exactly is an environmentalist in the eyes of these writers? Is it only ‘environmentalists’ concerned about this?

The Washington Times reports:

Monday’s mishap brought back memories of a major crash in November 2007 in which the 902-foot Cosco Busan rammed the bridge and spilled 53,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay.

That accident contaminated 26 miles of shoreline, killed more than 2,500 birds and delayed the start of the crab-fishing season. Capt. John Cota, the pilot of the Cosco Busan, was sentenced to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors.

Apparently, that’s just more than those ‘pesky’ environmentalists fronting concern… I’m guessing the maybe 7 million+ residents of the Bay and surrounding area might be a bit concerned if this ship had hit the bridge with its full capacity of some 500,000+ barrels of oil which it had just offloaded.

from mercury news

from mercury news

The Silicon Valley Mercury News

Biologists for years have said that if a large oil tanker spills in the bay, the currents could carry much of it southward, where it would devastate egrets,herons, harbor seals, salmon and other species in the marshes and wetlands. Because of the weak tidal action in the southern part of the bay, the oil would take months, if not years, to remove.

The article continues with some key questions:

Among the key questions Monday: Why was the ship sailing in significant fog? After the Cosco Busan spill in 2007, the Coast Guard put in place rules limiting large ships from sailing when there is less than half a mile of visibility. Coast Guard officials said Monday that the visibility was a quarter-mile at the time of the accident.

Also, did Coast Guard officials who track ships on radar warn the vessel it was about to hit the bridge tower? [what about the ship’s own radar…?]

And why did the ship or its contracted emergency response crews not deploy boom — floating barriers that protect against oil spills — until hours after the accident?

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Shawn Lansing said the ship, which was built in 2004, had a double hull, which is required under a federal law signed by President George H.W. Bush after the Valdez spill. At a news conference Monday afternoon, Lansing said investigators don’t yet know the cause of the crash but are looking at human error as a possibility.

There it is again… ‘likely possibility’… ‘may’… and now we’re back into the circle of ‘evidence absence’ and ‘absence of evidence’… and… well…

… then the great news cycle… this accident will blow away or float away in the Bay tides in coming days and weeks.

Except maybe in places where people are contemplating the ‘human error’ risk factors present in shipping oil, bitumen, fuel and otherwise in areas where collisions between land, and land-based structures could be absolutely disastrous – as the Exxon Valdez and numerous other accidents demonstrate.

Here’s an image from the Vancouver Sun of the community of Kitimat and the Douglas Channel stretching west:

Vancouver Sun image

Vancouver Sun image

And a more complex view of the Douglas Channel from the Dogwood Initiative website;

from Dogwood Initiative website

from Dogwood Initiative website

And the Bay Bridge… pretty darn tough to see that thing…

Fog City

Double-hulled, triple hulled, highly trained pilots, radar, Coast Guards, regulations (current or future), policies, judicial reviews, ministerial imperatives, etc. … it don’t matter when it comes down to old faithful “HUMAN ERROR“…

It’s not a matter of ‘if’… it’s only a matter of ‘when’… that is… when we’re talking shipping, ships, and oil.

Risk… Reward?

[Remember this post from almost exactly one year ago today: Proposed Northern Exit-gateway Pipeline: Accidents happen because of human error… and are not averted due to elaborate statistical anlayses…  [or elaborate regulations… which may not be followed anyways… as in this case and half mile visibility and big bridges]

Enbridge Northern Exit-way II

Enbridge Northern Exit-way II


“Elwha River salmon, steelhead better off without hatcheries” (and the problem with ‘benchmarks’)

"Benchmarks" (in flux) table... "could you get me a new coffee?" asks the manager on the right...


This is a rather interesting article out of a Seattle paper:

With the dams being removed, a massive hatchery program threatens to impede effective use of the millions spent to open up the river and help salmon and steelhead runs recover.

… interesting if you’re into this sort of thing. Although I suppose it’s more opinion piece than article… as it carries a clear bias.

This summer, the longawaited dam removal on the Elwha River finally gets underway, marking the culmination of a two-decade effort toward restoring salmon to one of Washington’s most pristine rivers. The Elwha, in many ways, is a chance to rewrite history, undoing a century of destruction wrought by two dams that block migrating salmon from 90 miles of their historic habitat.

By all accounts, removing the dams from the Elwha watershed is an extraordinary opportunity, one that will bring about the rebirth of a river, which was once home to some of the largest Chinook ever documented and where a 65-pound salmon was more the norm than a rarity. Throughout their evolutionary history, wild salmon and steelhead have recovered from a range of catastrophic disturbances.

Curious language this…”rewrite history”… “recovered from catastrophic disturbances“.

“Rewrite history”… maybe a bit of hyperbole here… does that mean colonization of the Pacific Northwest? the massive commercial fisheries of the last 120 years or so? (probably not…)

On one hand, ‘catastrophic disturbances‘ is about exactly right though…

As, much of north-western North America was under a kilometre or so of ice some several thousands of years ago. Theories suggest that during the last period of great ice sheets — some 12K to 18K years ago — wild Pacific salmon hung out south of the Columbia River all the way down into Mexico; northwestern Alaska, Yukon, and current Bering Sea in the area known as Beringia; and in various ice-free refuge areas (e.g. northeastern Haida Gwaii, Brooks Peninsula on western Vancouver Is., etc.).

The salmon runs ‘recorded’ since European contact were still potentially on a ‘recovery’ track as the landscape ‘recovered’ from so much ice, melt, and glacial retreat.

So…  “recovered from catastrophic disturbance”?

See, “recover” means ‘to restore to a normal state’ or ‘to get back again’.

What is the ‘normal state‘ for salmon in any particular river?

How do we know when wild salmon populations have “recovered“?

What’s the “benchmark”? (as scientists and corporatists like to say)

_ _ _ _ _ _

The article continues:

Despite the capacity of these fish to recover naturally, state, federal, and tribal fisheries managers are poised to squander the opportunity. They’ve opted to build a $16 million hatchery that will flood the river with more than 4 million juvenile salmon and steelhead each year, including more Chinook and steelhead than are released on the entire northern coast of Oregon.

This is despite 20 years of research demonstrating conclusively that hatchery fish are a major contributor to the decline of wild salmon in our region.

Now there’s a hotly debated statement…

Last spring I attended an international conference in Portland, OR hosted by “The State of the Salmon” organization: Ecological Interactions between Wild & Hatchery Salmon.

Ecological Interactions postcard

This very issue was batted back and forth across the North Pacific and north and south up the western North American coast.

Folks in the lower 48 largely curse hatcheries. Folks in Alaska sing the praises as they have multi-million dollar investments in ‘ocean-ranching’ programs.

Folks in Japan absolutely rely on hatchery/ocean-ranching programs for about 95% of their domestic catch.

And the Russians are apparently sitting on somewhere near $2 billion to start massive hatchery programs along their coastline.

(And Canadians… well… we just apologize and say “maybe this, maybe that”… “ooops sorry, my fault…your salmon spawned with mine, but i’m still sorry”)

_ _ _ _ _ _

The article:

Domestication alters salmon so dramatically that a recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) revealed that even when hatchery fish are only one generation removed from the wild, wild fish produce approximately twice as many offspring as their hatchery counterparts. The current plan on the Elwha will domesticate a majority of the remaining wild salmon in the basin, reducing their productivity, and threatening their ability to build locally adapted, abundant wild populations.

Despite all the public interest, decisions on the Elwha recovery plan have been made largely without public input, driven instead by the millions of dollars set aside for a misguided and counterproductive hatchery. Meanwhile, research and monitoring critical in tracking the progress of the recovery remains woefully underfunded. The recovery plan claims that hatchery releases will be phased out as wild fish recover in the watershed, yet to date no benchmarks for wild recovery have been set, giving hatchery managers a blank check to continue harmful hatchery programs in perpetuity.

Oh, oh… there’s that benchmark thing. Scientists and ‘managers’ and money managers love benchmarks. (and of course there’s that ‘decisions made without public input’ thing as well…)

The problem with ‘benchmarks‘ when it comes to wild salmon populations is the point I raised above… how do we know when things have “recovered”?

What is the ‘normal state’ for salmon in the Elwha?

Or for any river for that fact… the Fraser, the Columbia, the Skeena…?

So where do we establish the ‘benchmarks’?

And what the hell does benchmark mean? (visit an older post to see)

‘Setting a benchmark’ is a term from carpentry, for building tables and chairs… not for setting arbitrary numbers to define success in ‘rebuilding’ salmon populations… (or measuring corporate success for that fact…)

And the bigger problem with ‘benchmarks’… they’re always based on the past.

_ _ _ _ _

The point here isn’t necessarily to criticize the writers of the article or the points they make, as many I tend to agree with… more to question the assumptions that lie behind much of the statements made.

(and for a continued interesting read, if you’re into this sort of thing, read the comments to the article).

The assumptions that lie behind this article, are very common assumptions in the salmon world.

They are prevalent in the current $20 million+ federal public inquiry: Cohen Commission into Fraser River sockeye declines. For example, how can we know the extent of the devastation that humans have wrought on Fraser sockeye populations if we have no ‘normal state’ to compare against?

… or can’t ever agree on what a normal state was? Let alone what the historical populations were in the 20th century.

How do we set “rebuilding goals” or “restoration benchmarks” (beware of preceding bumpf…) — if we don’t know what a steady state might be?

Oh right… we’ll use our assumptions to measure “productive habitat” — for example, this many metres squared of gravel means this many fish will successfully spawn, and this many young will return as adults…

yeah whatever… I call bullshit.

We just don’t know.

In the last 150 years, we have intervened to such a scale, around every corner, across every inch of water that wild salmon inhabit, that we just don’t know what “normal” is.

Was it ever ‘normal’… or… is constant flux — normal?

If we’re “benchmarking” how stable do you think your table would be if someone kept changing the length of the other three legs?

Or, if while you’re cutting to one benchmark, someone is shaking the sawhorse wildly back and forth, or the piece of wood you’re trying to cut?

_ _ _ _ _ _

There comes a time when I agree with the sentiment of some of the comments to this particular article.

Leave well enough alone.

Rivers of the Pacific Northwest can become naturally dammed by debris flows and mudslides and volcanoes. Eventually the dam releases and all the gravel and sediment blasts downstream. Fish populations are mutilated for years, but eventually a certain dynamic equilibrium (e.g. constant flux) is met, fish populations thrive, bears are happy, etc.

Hatcheries are essentially little more than warm milk and cookies.

They’re comfort food to make us feel better after obliterating fish species in the first place… or simply to support an economic benchmark.

Wild salmon runs recovered from Ice Age(s)… they’ll probably recover this latest scourge as well.




When salmon folk lose touch…

You can't be serious...?

Sometimes when one is doing research on wild salmon, salmon ‘management’, salmon conservation, salmon rehabilitation, and the like… one may come across things that bring pause, and an occasional head shake…

Today, I was searching around for information on Chinook salmon. My path led me to the Pacific Salmon Commission; a place I often land in my salmon searches. Specifically, my search led me to a report titled:

Development of the Technical Basis for a Chinook Salmon Total Mortality Management Regime for the PSC AABM Fisheries. February 2011

(It’s down the right hand column of the home page… and only 218 pages).

I tend to be someone who often advocates for “meaning what you say and saying what you mean“. I have varying degrees of success at this, but always looking to improve.

One of my intentions for this website/weblog is to try and present a variety of views on salmon — specifically wild salmon and our rather tenuous relationship with them.

And so when I read a title that suggests that we are looking for a ‘technical basis’ to manage Chinook based on “total mortality”… it does leave me puzzling. Did we manage based on ‘partial’ mortality before?

Well… we based on AABM… which translates to “Aggregate Abundance Based Management“. I won’t get it into it now, but in essence, the AABM means we fish less when Chinook stocks are in trouble and more when they are in good shape.

I know… rocket science.

Part of the problem is that it is done by “aggregate” meaning based on groups of Chinook stocks up and down the coast (Alaska, BC and Washington) that have potential spawners counted through various methods… various methods of accuracy…

There is also ISBM, which is “individual stock-based management” where information from individual stocks is considered when making fisheries decisions.

The move to TM based fisheries… and no that’s not “trademark” as in:

“this is our fishery management regime… TM“.

It’s “total mortality”.

From what I can see it means that Chinook catch numbers will now also include undersize Chinook or otherwise that may incidentally die in fisheries. Some types of fisheries are permitted to keep undersize or otherwise fish (e.g. some net fisheries) — other aren’t (e.g. sport fisheries) and thus undersize or oversize have to be released.

Or in the case of sport fisheries, when there is an imposed limit — say 2 Chinook a day — one person in a boat may ‘limit out’ first, yet keep fishing. If they catch a bigger fish then the two their keeping for their limit, the smaller one goes overboard “for the seals”.

(this isn’t the case with all rec fishers, however, as one myself, I’ve certainly seen it happen often enough)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

As the Commission report describes it:

The TM management regime would estimate catch and the associated incidental mortality (IM) in a fishery, and constrain the fisheries based on defined limits to TM rather than LC [Landed Catch].

… [Total mortality] is the sum of the landed catch and the associated incidental mortalities from fishing…

Hey, now that makes sense, less try and account for all the fish killed in fisheries as opposed to just what shows up at the dock (e.g. canneries or otherwise)…

In other words, it’s sort of like a full accounting for what military folks like to call “collateral damage”… or that other innocuous fisheries term “by-catch”.

Almost all fisheries have size restrictions, so one can imagine the number of undersized fish caught, for example, in commericial troll fisheries… and by the time an undersize fish has been swinging around on troll gear for a awhile, it’s probably not going to do too well when it’s “released”…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

For your pondering:

In 2009, the total commercial troll Chinook catch in Southeast Alaska alone was almost 176,000

Seine Chinook catch was over 54,000 and

Sport Chinook catch was over 69,000

With a total Chinook catch in Southeast Alaska just under 300,000

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

In northern BCover 75,000 Chinook caught in commercial troll fishing.

34,000 in sport fisheries.

On West Coast Vancouver Is. … commercial troll over 58,000 Chinook caught.

Sport fishery over 66,000 Chinook.

So throw in another 230,000 Chinook caught (or so).

_ _ _ _ _ _

Not included here is the Juan de Fuca, Salish Sea/Georgia Strait, or Fraser River mouth catch numbers. Not much going on their commercially, but lots of sports fisheries.

Total 2009 Chinook catch numbers — on what the Commission calls ISBM fisheries — was almost 205,000 with over half of those caught by sport fisheries (approx. 116,000) and First Nation (approx. 53,000) the rest was test fisheries and commercial.

_ _ _ _ _ _

The estimated “Incidental Mortality” (IM) — e.g. numbers not included in these numbers — appears to be estimated at close to 10%.  (…coincidentally, about the same approximate percentage of Chinook catch in BC, by First Nations…e.g. 12% as compared to the approximate 50% caught by sport fishers )

(And remember, much of these number are based on raging estimates)

Sport fisheries are only covered by creel surveys (e.g. interviews with fisherfolks) and estimates suggest about 10% coverage, as well as fly overs to count boats…

Ever dwindling though, due to funding cuts to Fisheries and Oceans monitoring and enforcement budgets.

So throw in another 70,000 (at least) dead Chinook into the equation.

(that’s almost the entire Fraser River Chinook run in some years…)

_ _ _ _ _ _

So some of this “Incidental Mortality” stuff begins to make sense once the glaze is peeled back from one’s eyes in trying to read mulit-hundred page documents that have an executive summary that reads like this…

Pacific Salmon Commission Chinook Tech docs

I think I spent more time scrolling back to the Acronym guide… and my new ‘techno-bumpf’ translation app.

However, here’s my favorite part:

The CTC also formed a Total Mortality Work Group (TMWG) in 2003 to develop the technical analyses and approaches necessary to implement total mortality regimes. The TMWG made substantial progress on methods for translating the relationship between nominal landed catch and the abundance indexes (AIs) for AABM fisheries into TM units, but was not able to complete the work due to lack of consensus on the interpretation of the TM language in the Agreement.

The “CTC” is the Chinook Technical Committee within the Pacific Salmon Commission… of which there are 32 people.   I’m not sure how many of those reached “total mortality” to become part of that working group…

Maybe another name might be appropriate…?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

However, this incredible depth of scientific analysis, techncical committees of over 30 people for one species of salmon, and so on… certainly makes one start to ponder “what is being spent on total mortality working groups…” which largely guide “fisheries”?

As opposed to trying to design: “how do we get as many fish onto the spawning grounds as possible — working groups

how do we avoid having to go to capital expensive, concrete-laden, long-term expensive hatchery options… which often do more damage then good — Working Group

And… “how do we make sure those fish have healthy habitat — Working Group

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"

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

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.

_ _ _ _ _ _

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?

_ _ _ _ _

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…

_ _ _ _ _

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?

_ _ _ _ _ _

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?

_ _ _ _ _

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…)

Fish assholes?

are you kidding?

Have you ever seen such a thing?

I thought it a hoax of sorts until I searched online and found this:


German style?




I’m curious about how this would be as a “main dish”?





This also seemed a fitting accompaniment… “side dish” if you will for another “once upon a salmon” tidbit.

This one comes from 1983 an “Ocean Law Memo” from the University of Oregon in 1983. Came across this randomly online.

The troubled Pacific Salmon Treaty: why it must be ratified


did we learn?.

Yup… I think this is referred to as the classic: “Tragedy of the Commons”.

If I don’t catch them, those fish assholes over there will… so why conserve?

_ _ _ _ _ _

Next sentence?:

And so for years, Alaskans caught Canadian-bound salmon.

BC fisherfolks caught US-bound salmon.

And each side would retaliate against the other and try their best to be the biggest fish assholes, especially on trans-boundary rivers.

And who paid the worst price?

Well… the fish of course

(and the multitude of First Nation communities that depended on those annual returns).

And which fish got hammered the worst?

Well, Coho and Chinook are sure in deep trouble in a lot of places:

Chinook loss -- 1983. Do we ever learn?

And so here we are… 28 years later… and things look worse… much worse.

What are we now… 1000% below optimum?

And really, with all the threats such as urban expansion, climate change and the like… what is optimum “escapement” (spawners) now?

Is it double what it was in 1983… triple… quadruple?

And yet here we are in Canada faced with yet another multi-million dollar ‘review’ of “fisheries management”.

What possibly could have gone wrong?

Let’s search the culprits, the hypotheses, the theories, the ‘science’… what possibly could have gone wrong…?

“It just doesn’t make sense…”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Who the ffff…


are we trying to fool here?

We fished the shit out of them for over a hundred years, stuffed more salmon in little aluminum cans then ever thought imaginable and sold them on the cheap.

They were an “endless resource”.

Nuke this stream, then just move up the coast.

Nuke that stream, then just move down coast.

Are there not enough abandoned, empty pilings rotting in the ebb and flow of Pacific tides to remind us of “WHY”?



Are we really going to continue to talk about dividing salmon right up until the last two are swimming upstream?

Look around the world… the history of “fisheries management” over the last 100 years, is an absolute f-in failure.

There’s a reason why the United Nations makes declarations to go to war… alongside: stating in no uncertain terms that fisheries around the world are in dismal shape.


Because wars and collapsing fisheries result in similar outcomes… dead and dying people; dead and dying communities; rubble and ruin.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Who are the real fish assholes?

Why count salmon? Getting the numbers straight — going back to 1933

Contributions to the Life History of the Sockeye Salmon by Wilbert Clemens 1933

As mentioned last week, I had the good fortune of coming across some pretty old reports on British Columbia Sockeye at a used book store.

This is the cover from the “British Columbia Fisheries Department 1933” report titled “Contributions to the Life History of the Sockeye Salmon. (Paper 19)” by William A. Clemens. It’s reprinted from the:

Report of the British Columbia Commissioner of Fisheries, 1933

These reports review the runs of sockeye on four of BC’s large sockeye-producing systems: the Skeena, the Nass, Rivers Inlet, and the Fraser.

The “Introduction” to this 1933 report seems to point to a common issue. In the fifth paragraph it states:

"Introduction" to Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries 1933

The history of the sockeye-fishery on the Fraser River is illustrated in Fig. 1 [below]. The enormous packs of the years 1897, 1901, 1905, 1909, and 1913 are conspicuous. While the calamitous rock-slide in the canyon at and above Hell’s Gate in 1913 was a factor in the elimination of this extraordinary cyclic run, it is evident that there has been a steady decline in the runs of the other three cyclic-years, and there is no reason to doubt that overfishing has been a most important factor in the decline of Fraser as a sockeye-producing area in all cycle-years. [my emphasis]

And here’s the part of this report I find quite interesting: Figure 1. “Packs of sockeye salmon on the Fraser River from 1895 to 1933, in thousands of cases. The continuous line represents the actual packs and the broken line the trend.

Figure 1. Packs of sockeye salmon on the Fraser River from 1895 to 1933

What this graph shows is that in 1913 there were almost 2.4 million cases of canned sockeye salmon. Approximately 1.7 million of these were done in Washington but still based on Fraser River sockeye.

If you haven’t had a chance to read earlier posts on this topic — I recommend: Once upon a salmon… and Somebody get the Fraser sockeye story straight, please…

Those two posts point to a serious discrepancy in the Fraser sockeye story.

The Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser sockeye presented in its earliest material a chart like this one below (i’ve added the numbers and question marks):

This graph, originally printed in a publication on the Mekong River in Asia, suggests that Fraser Sockeye only numbered about 25 million total run size in 1901 and about 37 million in 1913.

And if you’ve read all the various news stories from this past summer — many pundits were comparing this past year’s Fraser sockeye run to the 1913 run.

But there seems to be a problem…

See a 1902 Fisheries report  “Thirty-fifth Annual Report: Department of Marine and Fisheries 1902” states:

… the total pack of Fraser river sockeye for this year [1901] reaches a total of 2,081,554 cases. [as demonstrated in Figure 1 graph from 1933 report above]

Large as this amount is, representing a total of 30,000,000 fish, it could have been largely increased, possibly doubled, had the canneries had capacity enough to have handled all the fish available during the run.

On Fraser river, the canners placed 200 as the maximum number of fish they would guarantee to take from each boat and for 12 days, from 6th to 17th August this limit was enforced.  The fishermen could consequently during this period fish only for a short time each day. During the height of the run they dare not put more thati a small length of their net in the water.  In some cases nets were sunk and lost from the weight of fish.

_ _ _ _ _ _

And so… if just under 2.1 million cases represent approximately 30,000,000 sockeye canned (a case is 48 lb) and reports suggest another 30 million were available to be canned what does this suggest about total run size? —

And… what does the 2.4 million cases of 1913 represent?

Well… the math would suggest approximately 36 million sockeye were canned in 1913. And, so what was the total run size?

The graph that the Cohen Commission is working with, suggests that we’re estimating the 1913 sockeye run solely by what ended out in cans.

_ _ _ _ _ _

And then, even despite the devastating rock slide, there were still over 500,000 cases of sockeye canned in 1917 [see Fig. 1 graph above from 1933 report] — the next big year of this cycle (1897, 1901, 1905, 1909, 1913…2010). That’s still approximately 7,500,000 sockeye: canned.

But I thought that the 1913 run was decimated by the rock slide? — apparently fish still got through, because there was still enough sockeye four years later to can over 7 million — 500,000 48-lb cases.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Could it not maybe be that the main problem is as exactly pointed out in the 1933 report above:

there is no reason to doubt that overfishing has been a most important factor in the decline of Fraser as a sockeye-producing area in all cycle-years.

And so if we were being warned of overfishing in the first half of the 1900s, is it all that advisable that we were taking 80% of the total sockeye runs in commercial fisheries from the 1950s on?

Salmon Think Tank

Do we not learn lessons from the past?

How is it that you spell “cod” again?

Oh right… “E” … “X” …”T” … “I” … “N” … “C” … “T” …

(at least commercially, and largely ‘functionally’ — why?

overfishing and mismanagement and lack of political will and too much bickering).

Cull those damn geese… save the salmon.

Salmon Killer!!

I’m somewhat speechless… but maybe not fully speechless. Unfortunately, this headline is a bit disconnected from the actual story. It’s a Mark Hume story from the Globe and Mail a little earlier this week:

B.C. plan aims to bring back the salmon by driving away the geese

“The restoration project, which has been planned in detail but which is still awaiting some funding, hopes to restore the Englishman and Little Qualicum River estuaries “to full productivity” for coho and Chinook salmon.

But to restore a balance to nature they have to drive out the geese, an introduced species that has done extensive damage.

The B.C. Conservation Foundation project does not propose to cull the geese, but rather seeks to exclude the birds from large areas of marshlands by creating habitat that provides cover for predators.”

With full respect to the many folks and organizations involved in this project and to Mr. Hume the writer of the article… but really, are geese the problem?!

“Restore a balance to nature” … by driving out geese?

maybe we need to look up definition of “restore”?

“Provide cover for predators”?

Which predators are those? The rare red-necked Vancouver Island sharp shooter or the less common four legged feline house dweller that favors Purina?

In my humble opinion, I don’t think geese are the problem — but then I’m not in on full details, other than being well aware of a few other impacts some years before geese became a “problem”… (and to be fair some of those impacts are mentioned in the article.)

Sure maybe the geese are munching on eel grass and what not; however, I think the problem just might be a different two-legged critter. One without wings (other than those good Halloween costumes).

The kind that logged off upslope areas of the Englishman and Little Qualicum watersheds, then built a powerline across bench areas where Chinook and coho used to spawn, then a pipeline, then a four-lane divided highway, then add in some of the most sought after retirement property and climate in the country.

Oh right, then throw in a commercial fishery gone wild (buy the video online for ($9.99), sport fisheries (now a dwindling species on East Coast Vancouver Island), maybe a little dose of well-intentioned salmon hatcheries — oh right, throw in a gauntlet of salmon farms a little further north, a polluting mine or two on migration routes… and shit… by the townload…

And… well… shit… we have a problem.

(and don’t forget those ghad-forsaken seals, oh and those pesky orcas, and who can forget those not-so-cuddly bears… why can’t nature just leave those damn salmon alone…?) (now there’s: “restoration”)

The list of organizations involved in this project is quite impressive… maybe if all of those organizations were able to attack much larger issues, then all East Coast Vancouver Island salmon might stand a chance at avoiding extinction, rather than simply existing as hatchery supported populations.

But then how would that differ from farmed Pacific salmon… or the already existing self supporting Atlantic salmon populations in B.C. streams?

This seems like one of those “feel good” projects that some organizations love to attach their name to — but then that’s the more cynical side of me, which will probably take some flack for the comments.

Who knows? Maybe all the “social capital” built on a feel good project like this will lead to real solutions sometime in the future?

And something that actually has the smallest semblance of real “restoration”…

Just a bit disappointing that the Globe and Mail editorial staff chose to attach such a disconnected headline to this article. Disappointing that even ‘nature’ stories get pasted with drama-inducing, gasping, fake headlines like the breast-augmented, plastic surgery induced “news” of primetime TV…

(Maybe it’s just a slow salmon news time with the Cohen Comish on hiatus for the time being?)

Really… though… I’m not so sure how dropping big pieces of wood in an estuary is “driving away the geese”…  Unless of course they’re throwing that wood at the geese… Or dropping those wood chunks from the air to land on those pesky grass-eating geese… maybe they need some stumps from those trees in Lord of the Rings… the Ents? (was that their name?)


Geese eating, rock throwing Ents save the salmon… (more fitting… and maybe more realistic).

from Langley Advance

A pretty decent editorial coming out of the South Delta Leader newspaper… nice to see a balanced perspective on this issue.

Also curious why a federal government MP thinks its OK to break the law — yet be a member of a governing party that is coming down “tough on crime”?

It’s a curious message really… as government MPs and MLAs often have little issue with standing on their soap box screaming about “illegal blockades” that First Nations often have to erect to get their point across. And government reps shouting about how “renegades” and “criminals” must be prosecuted…

EDITORIAL—Focus wrong on fisheries protest

Commercial fishermen who fished illegally to protest the rules governing separate aboriginal fisheries should pay their fines and move on.

More than 40 fishermen were fined $200, including Delta-Richmond East MP John Cummins, for illegal fishing in 2001 and 2002, and B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition spokesperson Phil Eidsvik has said it’s a conviction they will appeal.

Yes, enforcement has been lax when it comes to policing aboriginal fisheries on the Fraser River, and that needs to change. Many contend First Nations’ food fish catches are sold on the black market (something many aboriginal fisherman would argue should not be illegal), and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans needs to step up to help alleviate some of the friction.

But Eidsvik and others argue the separate fishery for aboriginal people is, basically, racist.

“A number of them (fishermen) have come to me and said, ‘I’m not going to pay a fine because I’m the wrong race,'” Eidsvik said earlier this week. “We have here a prosecution and enforcement policy based on race.”

Yes, First Nations fishermen who participate in a separate fishery are a different race than other fishermen, but that is not why First Nations have been granted the constitutionally protected right to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes ahead of other users.

The purpose is to restore something which had been stolen or, at least, severely curtailed for more than a century.

First Nations’ pre-existing right to fish the river was curbed by colonialism. A fishery they’d enjoyed for hundreds—or thousands—of years was restricted through policies of assimilation and subordination. Access to fish was cut as far back as the 1860s, and tightened further in the early 1900s. At one point aboriginal people were not classified as Canadian citizens and therefore not allowed to have commercial fishing licences unless they gave up aboriginal status.

Today, the limitation of access—an historic wrong—is corrected, to some extent, through legislation and treaty.

Having said that, each First Nation has its own history. Not all aboriginal people can be lumped together as a group. As treaties are negotiated, fishing rights are determined on a case-by-case basis based on each nation’s claim to a place.

Because of today’s shortage of salmon and the difficulty making a living as a commercial fisherman, the tensions are understandable.

But it’s simplistic to put the spotlight on race when we talk about aboriginal fisheries.

When we talk about separate openings for First Nations on the river, let’s keep some context and history in mind.

_ _ _ _ _

It’s also important to consider the numbers on this issue. For the last 50+ years (with the exception of the last few years of severe dwindling of runs), the commercial salmon fishery has accounted for well over 90% of the total salmon catch in BC — closer to 95% most years.

The First Nation or aboriginal fishery has rarely been over 5%, probably closer to 3% with sport fisheries making up the other percentage.

So… really… if we’re going to talk about “policing” or at least monitoring the fisheries — maybe we should distribute the limited (and constantly dwindling) ‘compliance and enforcement’ budgets based on concentration/percentage of catch.

(Side note: the sport fishery is the least monitored of all the fisheries, with a growing percentage of the catch)

how to define two-faced?

In November, a few months back, a very significant legal decision came out of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The case was labeled: Ahousaht Indian Band and Nation v. Canada (Attorney General).

Or, the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation (comprised of  The Ahousaht, Ehattesaht, Hesquiaht, Hupacasath, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, Nuchatlaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, and Tseshaht Indian Bands and Nations all from the west coast of Vancouver Island) against the Government of Canada.

The core of the case centered on the Nuu-chah-nulth claim to an aboriginal right to fish on a commercial basis. As stated by the Honorable Madam Justice Garson in her analysis:

They assert that at the time of contact with Europeans, their ancestral communities fished and traded fish and these activities were intrinsic aspects of their culture.  They contend that those fishing and trading activities found their modern-day aboriginal rights to fish commercially, and that Canada’s fisheries regime unjustifiably infringes those rights.  They claim that they are largely excluded from the WCVI [West Coast Vancouver Island] commercial fishery.  The plaintiffs do not seek rights to fish free from government regulation, but say such regulation must recognize their aboriginal rights, which at the moment it fails to do.

Presently, in Canada, federal Fisheries policy limits First Nations to fishing for “food, ceremonial and social purposes”. The apparent priorities of Fisheries policy in Canada are guided by: conservation first, then First Nation food fisheries, then commercial and sport fisheries.

As the Nuu-chah-nulth successfully pointed out — current Fisheries policies do not account for the reality that Nuu-chah-nulth communities historically utilized fisheries resources for far more than just food and ceremonial purposes — prior to European contact.

For someone that grew up on the coast — this is a bit of a no brainer. However, apparently for folks in Ottawa this is a little more difficult to grasp.


When it comes to the Olympics, or tourism, or other issues, the federal government will wave their aboriginal flag worse than Gordon Campbell waving a Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies — whacking Ms. Harper in the face repeatedly.

A press release from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in early December: Government of Canada Supports 2010 Aboriginal Pavilion. The Feds made a $2.9 million dollar contribution for the Aboriginal Pavilion. Gary Lunn, Minister of State for Sport suggested:

“The 2010 Aboriginal Pavilion will be an incredible chance for Canadian and international visitors to experience and celebrate the cultural richness of Aboriginal

The  press release from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada ends suggesting:

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is working to ensure that Canada’s investment leaves a legacy of economic and social benefits for all Aboriginal peoples.


If you are not familiar with the history of court cases surrounding aboriginal rights and title in Canada — the record for Canada is rather poor. Yet, Canada continues to have one policy, and one policy only to any legal challenges by First Nations asserting aboriginal rights and title.


Aboriginal rights and title are built fundamentally on the fact that aboriginal societies existed in Canada prior to European colonization. This was recognized in some of the earliest laws guiding establishment of Canada as a country – for example the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which suggested that First Nation people and societies needed to be respected.

The general policies, laws, and governance that have evolved since then are built upon the assertion of “denial”.

For First Nations, many of which have been fighting for rights and recognition for over a century, the burden of proof lies with the Nations. Once a Nation enters legal proceedings and the Canadian legal system — proving aboriginal rights and title rests with the Nations raising the case.

Added to the challenges, courts depend on evidence for that burden of proof. When it comes to aboriginal rights and title we’re talking about very old evidence — and in many cases oral history, as opposed to written history (although both come into play).

And, thus, the federal and provincial government practice of: deny, deny, deny.

And why not — governments don’t hold the burden of proof. Well… not until it gets to the point where aboriginal rights and title have been proven (becoming more frequent) and then the government has the burden of proof to prove that any infringement of those aboriginal rights was “justified”.

This gets into trickier, stickier, grayer areas.

And, do denial first.

So, not only did “Canada” deny that the Nuu-chah-nulth had any aboriginal rights, they denied any commercial rights:

[2]       Canada denies that the plaintiffs possess an aboriginal right to trade or to sell fish.  In the alternative, Canada denies that its legislation infringes any aboriginal rights that the plaintiffs do possess…

First order of business: try to deny that the communities mounting the legal challenge were actually the descendants of the Nations they represent:

[15]         Canada responds that the plaintiffs have failed to establish that they are the successor collectives to the aboriginal groups that historically possessed aboriginal rights and title.  For this reason alone, their claims must fail.

[16]         Canada further submits that none of the plaintiffs have established that they possess aboriginal rights to harvest, for any of the reasons they assert, all species of fisheries resources in their respective territories.  They have also failed to establish aboriginal rights to sell any species of fisheries resources harvested in their respective territories, whether on a commercial scale, for the purposes of sustaining their communities, or in exchange for money or other goods.

Canada contends that these rights cannot be proven because no such practices existed at the time of contact; alternatively, any such practices were not integral to the distinctive cultures of the plaintiffs; or, in the further alternative, there is no continuity between the pre-contact fishing practices of the aboriginal peoples of the WCVI and the modern activities alleged to be the modern iteration of those practices.

Canada denies that fishing practices existed at contact?? So, what the heck were folks comprising the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations eating?

Rocks off the beach? Come on.


Another press release from the Federal Government in early December 2009:

In the new Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development, the Government of Canada committed to increasing economic opportunities for First Nations by, among other things, modernizing land management regimes and enhancing the value of Aboriginal assets by addressing legislative and regulatory barriers that hinder economic development.

From the court case:

[198]     It is Canada’s contention that an examination of these other aspects of the Nuu-chah-nulth way of life provides evidence of a society that did not trade in fish… Canada submits that trade in marine resources was not an integral feature of Nuu-chah-nulth culture.

[242]     The plaintiffs contend that the evidence demonstrates that their ancestors traded in fish and that that trade in fish was integral to their culture.  Canada contends that, at most, the evidence supports a finding of occasional, opportunistic trade in fish.  It argues that any exchange of fish or marine products was largely within a context of kinship, gifts, or tribute to a chief, and therefore cannot be construed as trade.  It further argues that any trade was the product of European influence.

So apparently, the thousands upon thousands of aboriginal people living on the coast of BC just lazed around eating rocks off the beach and didn’t trade or have commerce of any kind until European ships started moving along the coast.

Thankfully, Madame Justice Garson did not adopted such a narrow view:

[282]     I conclude that at contact, the Nuu-chah-nulth engaged in trade of fisheries resources.  I conclude that that trade included the regular exchange of fisheries resources in significant quantities to other tribes or groups, including groups with kinship connections.

[791]     I conclude that the plaintiffs have proved that Canada’s fisheries regulatory regime prima facie infringes their aboriginal rights to fish and to sell fish by their preferred means, both legislatively and operationally.

Things are changing… again. Unfortunately, as with so many aboriginal rights and title cases prior to this — the courts are not interested in dictating remedies to these cases. Madame Justice has sent the Nuu-chah-nulth and federal government back to the negotiating table with a two year timeline.

In some views, it’s sort of like finding a bully guilty of dishonorable acts — but, hey, we’ll give you two years to clean up your Acts.

Meaning, legislate your way out of this. That’s how the Province of BC dealt with aboriginal consultation issues after it got slapped in the courts a few years. It just changed the laws…

Fairly, though, it is very complex as the federal government has been busy since about 1867 layering legislation on laws on legislation ensuring that settlers, canneries, and commercial fisherfolks can access natural resources.

Kind of hard to know what you stand for when the governing regime changes every few years… and the choices between potential governing regimes are so busy throwing sand from the Parliamentary sandbox in each others underwear.

The disturbing part for me — is constantly reading “Canada” says this, “Canada” asserts this… I’m wondering where “Canada” got this mandate of denial from. This means that all of the Olympic fervor generated over athletes standing on podium and competing for country — also stands for marginalizing communities that are the fundamental core to the country (plus the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population – by far).

How do you defined two-faced?

this is your second disconnection notice.

In my post earlier today, I highlighted an article on Bloomberg.com (World Salmon Supply to Drop Most Since 1990 on Virus) regarding the declining world farmed supply due to a devastating outbreak of disease in Chilean salmon farms.

As mentioned there are some serious disconnects in this issue. Let me highlight this further by pointing to the Globe and Mail’s coverage of this issue yesterday:

Salmon virus tilts scales in favour of British Columbia

Globe and Mail article - Vancouver Is. salmon farm

First off, the Globe labeled the article as: “Fishing Industry“. Salmon farming is about as much a “fishing industry” as cattle farming is “cow hunting”.

Secondly, I am flummoxed by the various articles on this issue.

Chilean salmon farms — also largely owned by Norwegian companies — have a major breakout of infectious salmon anemia. This significantly drops world supply of farmed salmon and thus higher prices. According to the Bloomberg article this means higher revenues for salmon farming companies and higher returns for investors.

Market analysts are increasing ratings of companies like Marine Harvest (Norwegian company with huge operations in British Columbia) and Cermaq (Norwegian-based company specializing in fish feed and salmon farming). Profits are up.

This = good.

Bloomberg article:

Marine Harvest reported fourth-quarter net income of 520 million kroner on Feb. 10, compared with a year-earlier loss, and predicted a “good” first quarter. Cermaq last week posted a 141.1 million-krone fourth-quarter profit, beating analysts’ expectations.

Cermaq climbed 10 percent this year in Oslo trading after doubling last year. It fell 2.4 percent to 61.75 kroner in Oslo today. Marine Harvest advanced 22 percent after a fourfold surge in 2009 and dropped 5 percent to 5.15 kroner today after saying it intends to issue convertible bonds.

Meanwhile in Chile:

Farmers won’t release more young fish into ocean cages until congress legislates to improve industry practices, Cesar Barros, president of industry association SalmonChile, said last month.

Empresas AquaChile SA, Chile’s largest salmon producer, said in November that it was preparing for its “worst year” ever. Output will drop to less than 50,000 metric tons this year, compared with 150,000 tons last year, Chairman Victor Hugo Puchi said Nov. 10.

Oh, so what you’re saying is the locals are getting screwed while the foreigners are seeing 22 percent growth after a four-fold growth period last year.

Chilean locals are being laid off in droves, communities hammered, local companies gutted, and the multinationals are seeing increasing profits.

The Chilean government is trying to improve legislation so that this can’t happen again and the multinationals are looking to screw British Columbia waters, communities, and governments.

The Bloomberg article:

…according to a report in 2004 from the U.S. Geological Survey. The virus can kill fish but is not harmful to people, according to a 2002 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Well, gee, thank ghad it’s not harmful to humans but only kills fish.

Oh wait, you mean those wild salmon that British Columbia has that Chile does not?

But wait… the Globe and Mail is suggesting that the “salmon virus tilts the scale in favour of British Columbia”.

Are you fricking kidding?!

Bloomberg article:

Infectious salmon anemia was first reported within Norwegian aquaculture facilities and has also been found in Canada, Scotland and the U.S.

Oh, you mean the same Norwegian companies that control over ninety percent of the British Columbia salmon farming industry?

Globe and Mail article opening:

A virus that devastated the Chilean salmon industry is driving up global prices, bringing an unintended boon to British Columbia’s embattled farmed-salmon business.

Salmon spot prices have nearly doubled in the past year, following a sharp drop in global supply because of the outbreak of infectious salmon anemia in Chile, the world’s second-biggest source.

But the benefits for British Columbia, the fourth-largest producer globally, will go only so far because of a recent moratorium on the expansion of fish farms in the province.

…a spokesman for Marine Harvest’s operations in British Columbia, said that while higher prices are good for profits, the business can only grow so much because of the provincial restrictions

Well, gee, stupid B.C.’ers!

Why can’t we see the boom here? Increased prices for farmed salmon, great local Norwegian companies providing all this work and benefits, why can’t we just loosen those provincial restrictions and lift the moratorium – and stop being so concerned about those silly wild fish and coastal ecosystems?

Yeah, gee, you know salmon farming has done wonders for wild salmon in Norway and Scotland and other places.

I don’t think I can even send another disconnection notice –because this is about as bad as it gets.

It seems that a much larger percentage of folks now recognize that slashing and burning the Amazon rainforest to raise cattle which is in turn ground into burgers for the voracious North American and European McMarkets — is not such a good idea.

So, why is it any better to put B.C. coastal ecosystems in jeopardy to feed farmed salmon to the Wal-Marts of the U.S. and supermarkets of Europe (like Asda’s in the U.K. — Wal-Mart’s European subsidiary)?

Yeah, I also hear the market for enriched plutonium is booming right now — shit, Vancouver Island you should get into that market… that’ll improve those coastal economies.

Disconnection notice sent.