Tag Archives: wild salmon

Fraser sockeye and pinks 2013 – the unknown unknowns…

Looking for sockeye on the Cariboo River - Sept. 2013

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

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

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

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

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

_ _ _ _ _ _

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

Pacific Salmon Commission Sept. 6th news release

Pacific Salmon Commission Sept. 6th news release

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

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

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

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

[a known known...?]

_ _ _ _ _ _

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

Pre-season predictions of almost 4.8 million Fraser sockeye.

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

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

However, it gets worse…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

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

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

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

Pacific Salmon Commission “objectives”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ghost Lake - aptly named? Quesnel River headwaters

Ghost Lake – aptly named? Quesnel River headwaters.

“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

 

Assessing the salmon evidence… cost and costs?

cost of Justice Cohen's recommendations?

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

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

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

Assessment of the evidence
In the field of law, lawyers and judges ask whether the evidence led at a trial “proves” the case. In a civil trial, the plaintiff must prove his or her case on the balance of probabilities – that is, the judge or jury must be satisfied that the plaintiff’s version of events is more likely than not true. In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the accused’s guilt to a much higher standard – beyond a reasonable doubt.

In this Inquiry, I have not conducted a trial, and in relation to making findings of fact regarding the causes of the decline, it would not be appropriate in my view to apply either the civil or the criminal standard of proof set out above. Rather, I use terms that express likelihood or degrees of certainty to describe the strength or weakness of the evidence, as did many of the authors of technical reports and other witnesses who testified during our hearings. (pg. 103)

The good Justice suggests in the 2nd volume:

It is not, in my view, a matter of choosing one potential cause over the other [for Fraser salmon declines]. Given our limited understanding of how the many identified stressors actually affect Fraser River sockeye and how regional processes affect many different sockeye stocks, prudence dictates that neither be ruled out.

The available evidence has identified a risk that both Fraser River–specific stressors and region-wide influences may have contributed to the long-term decline. Regrettably, that is as far as the evidence takes me. However, there are things that can be done to fill in knowledge gaps and progress toward finding cause-effect relationships.

Sadly, I think this is the great mis-guidance of our time… as well as a great contradiction. Plus a ‘limited evidence trail’ that cost some $25 million to write up.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Here’s a true “cause-effect” relationship…  Catch Fraser River sockeye, bonk on head, dead fish.

Cause of death: catching and bonking…

Effect? Dead fish.

Not complicated. Quite simple really.

‘Climate change’ and Fraser sockeye? Human-altered salmon habitat and large salmon run declines?

Well… the ‘arguments’ for this will rage until the last sockeye comes home… and… well… moo’s like the cows that came home too…

And thus there’s all this legal talk by the good Justice of “available evidence” as well as the complex, Donald Rumsfeld (Dubya Bush’s former Secretary of Defense) ‘absence of evidence, not to be taken as evidence as absence‘, etc. As aren’t we essentially looking for ‘weapons of mass destruction’ of Fraser salmon…?

But what about ‘presence of evidence’ to be taken as ‘evidence of presence’? (well that may be likely or probability is high… and enter other wiggly, slippery words here…)

Climate change is one of those sticky ones… sure the ‘climate’ is changing… but is that ‘climate’ as in the entire global — if so, how do we prove or proof the evidence? Is there evidence of presence… like on a criminal trial burden of proof? or a civil? or Justice Cohen’s ‘probably likely’ tests used in these reports? [and no offence intended, this is a complex subject... higher burdens of 'proof' or 'evidence' would have meant no report.]

When it comes to climate change, these are debates raging around the world, with deniers and climate change gurus alike. My point is not to pick a side… but to point out the obvious… if we humans (especially those esteemed peer reviewed scientists) can’t even agree that climate change is occurring or not, and that human activities are the cause, or at least accelerating what may be occurring naturally since the last ice age…

…then how are we having these theoretical discussions about theoretical impacts on things like ‘Fraser sockeye’ — from the ocean to the natal stream…?

And how do we separate out the historical reality that during the last big glacial advance, say some 10,000 or 12,000 years ago… wild salmon barely existed between north of the Columbia River and somewhere in Alaska and the Yukon (e.g. Beringia)… theories suggest some salmon were living as far south as areas in Mexico during the big glacial advances.

If that’s the case… then wild salmon have done just fine re-colonizing after cataclysmic events…  And if that may (or may not) be the case… then do we really need to spend $26 million (or so), largely on lawyers, legal realm experts, and supposed ‘salmon experts’ (who essentially bickered with each other and ‘their’ research agendas) — and trying to implement a slew of recommendations that will probably cost some $500 million or so to actually implement…

[Note: completely theoretical number... disclaimer... i'm not a government economist prone to making grandiose economic predictions...like fighter jet cost budgeting...or niggling about cliff diving off the famed Fiscal Hills located near Washington, DC]

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

See it’s commentary such as this – below – that drives me batty:

Only a few studies have explored the relationship between temperature and survival of immature sockeye salmon in the open ocean.

Oh, Ok…. so if we do more studies on the temperatures of the North Pacific and the ‘relationship between temp and survival’… we’re going to be able to better manage the relationship between ourselves and wild salmon?

Hmmmm. Let’s ponder that…

salmon… North Pacific… survival… temperature…

so are we measuring the temperature at the surface… 5 ft down… 15 ft down… (I know that whenever I swim in the North Pacific temperatures can range dramatically in a 30 ft radius, especially if there’s whales peeing in the area…)

How about where in the North Pacific…? it’s kind of big…

Survival…? Hmmmm. How?

Or better yet… how, accurately? Or wait… is it precision…?

… or accuracy…?

We can’t even get accurate counts of spawning salmon in a river 20 feet wide… and say 10 feet deep… let alone an ocean some several thousands of km wide and miles deep… full of salmon… well… from all across the Pacific Rim…

This is akin to trying to accurately measure the water displacement in my bathtub when a speck of dust lands in it… or better yet, tracking that speck of dust from my bathtub drain, some 800 km upstream of the mouth of the Fraser River, downstream, out to the Pacific, and how it impacts a gray whale migrating from Baja Mexico…

Yea…ok…

Page 77 of Volume 2 report:

During the evidentiary hearings, Dr. McKinnell testified that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections for future climate are difficult to represent in terms of the finer-scale climate, such as climate changes that will occur in British Columbia and what the response of the marine ecosystem will be in the northeastern Pacific Ocean.

Hmmm.

These consistent theories that suggest developing more theories, devised by professional theorists, will assist in devising a theoretical ‘management’ strategy (aka theory), implemented by more professional theorists, adhering to the initial theorists’ theories to catch theoretical salmon… just doesn’t hold a lot of water. Especially, when it’s all said and theoretically done… the Minister still has the unfettered power to overrule the theorists and make decisions that make more sense to the other professional, practitioning theorists… the economists.

So no matter how much we continue to debate, argue, protest, whine, snivel, shout, cry and kick&scream and then delay doing things… because of absence of data… or… is it absence of evidence… or is it evidence of data absence…

No… it’s ‘high likelihood’ and certain certainty or is it just likelihood and certain evidence… likelihood of data absence, or evidence of data likelihood…?

ah, I can’t remember… however, one things for sure… if you’re in the salmon theorizing field (and it’s a pretty small one) chances are pretty good that your job security, or research contracts are looking pretty decent.

Oh wait… under the current Canadian governing regime, only if it’s researching fish that supply a ‘fishery’…

Likelihood that the evidence of absent data gets filled in near future by present evidence and theory…? Low.

Likelihood that $$ continues to be wasted on theoretical processes that result in preconceived, unfettered decisions…? High.

Likelihood that even if evident data gaps got filled with evidence and data-gap filler, that our ‘management’ of salmon fisheries, salmon habitat, and slowing ‘climate change’ or ‘climate change impacts’ will occur…? Low!

(cost of that opinion… well… FREE).

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

 

presence - absence ?

presence – absence ?

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

A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.

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

 “An absence of data, or an absence of evidence to me is not evidence of absence, and I think it’s a little bit dangerous to use an absence of data or an absence of evidence to suggest that contaminants play no role whatsoever or are indeed unlikely to play a role.

…but clearly we’re data deficient in terms of our current capacity to understand what’s happening with the sockeye situation”

So… ummm…. Is it data deficient, or deficient data?

And… does evidence presence mean evidence is in the present… or how about if the President’s evidence is present… Or, absent? Does absence of the President’s evidence mean we have data absence, or data presence, or data presents (like cigars and interns)…?

Is not the absence of data, itself… data? Or is absent data, presence of data absence or just simply absence? What if data absence, become data presence – does that make us wiser? If data absences become data evidences, was not the gap also evidence, or simply evident, or clearly evidents — leading to the gap? If the gap is filled, what becomes of it?

A gap filled, or a filled gap?

Does our “knowledge” really have ‘gaps’…? But aren’t the gaps, still knowledge? Is a gap filled; make better knowledge presence? But still yet, what becomes of the gap?

Is the epitome of all gaps, to become filled, or full-filled… or maybe only half-filled… or is it half-empty? (a half-empty gap, says the pessimistic scientist…)

(I feel for the gap, says the empathetic scientist)…(All i want for x-mas is a tooth-filled gap, says the hockey-playing scientist)

What if a gap filled, in fact, becomes a bigger gap — in knowledge, or evidence, or presence, or absence? What then…

But what of the gap between our reality and our dreams? What becomes of that gap – when filled…?

(Here lies “THE GAP” will say the gravestone… “mighty and gaping in its presence, sad and lonely in its absence.“)

But wait… i can hear the copyright police calling now… …And I will say, I did not know “THE GAP” existed… that is the evidence in my defence… And yet the presence of “THE GAP” in my utterance, is my present offense.

…and they will tell me, as Justice’s well know, ignorance of the law is not a valid defense, and thus stop the pretense.

…and thus the gap in my knowledge will be a detriment, and not a defence… and here evermore absence of presence (e.g. knowledge) becomes a downfall… yet… that absence is still data… data used to prove presence of absence as evidence…

But, what if data abstains in its absence, and in its presence presents evidence?

Does absence of presents present mean conclusively that presents are absent, or simply lacking presence — or is absence of presents due to Santa’s absence? But if Santa is present, reality is absent — isn’t it? (but thankfully, still presents… if you remain a believer)

Yet if reality’s absent, what is mentally present? Mental absence, may mean data presence – but is that data present, and is it a present? In reality’s absence for some, it may become Not criminally responsible which can mean mental absence – says the judge and jury. And, so… to the convicted, evidence of mental absence is the defence of present – some might argue…

Is the data reliable, or simply pliable… like all data that is present or absent. In the present defence, as explained above, presence of absence is the key (e.g. mental). However, with Fraser sockeye salmon, some say it is absence of evidence for ‘smoking guns’. But… for the Province… evidence absence, means the smoke stays in the guns…

If it is absent — data that is — then that does not indicate lack of presence, or presents, or simply pre-sense.  Maybe… it seems… it simply means current absence, not abstention. But if data abstains, is it not present? Or is it simply taking a break, or somewhere south, ‘taking the fifth’?

If it’s broken, is it a gap? If there’s a gap does our decision-making wait for presence — or the presents that come with absence of datum?

If there’s a gap, and nobody is looking, is it still a gap? Is it data? Does data only exist when someone is looking? What if they only see in one eye? What if they are near-sighted… is it far-out data? Or far-sighted… is it near-data?

What about data that is right on the 200-mile offshore marker – is it Canadian data, eh? Or is it international data, da? Who owns it? Data is valuable, no? Are gaps, therefore, worthless data, or simply data worth less?

But some gaps are essential and priceless, like the gap that exists between you and oncoming traffic…

And, yet, what is a data gap, and gaping data – but is not data made up of datum… oh wait, it’s more…

Datum, say some, is simply nothing more than “an assumption or premise from which inferences may be drawn.”

Ohhhh… so presence of inference, does not imply absence of assumption – it actually means presence of premise, and presence of assumption. But assume does not indicate a present to the law, nor to the convicted… assume is a danger because as the old ditty goes: it makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”…

And so we Houston, BC may very well might have, very likely presence of a problem or absence of a solution…likely, or may have…highly probable, but debatable…

Further, according to Dr. Ross, contaminants very likely contributed to the long-term decline in the sense that they may have contributed through small incidents here and there (i.e., “death by a thousand cuts”) or they may have weakened the fish over time, such that when they went to sea they may have been more vulnerable.

death of a thousand cuts

death of a thousand cuts – Cartoon drawn at the beginning of the Cohen Commission in 2010…

And there, in that last fragment we have the great ecosystem killers of “very likely” and “they may have3

Now pardon the cynic in me, but wasn’t the “Terms of Reference” for Justice Cohen and the Commission:

C. to investigate and make independent findings of fact regarding:

I. the causes for the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon…

Last time I checked, “may have” and “most likely” were in the ‘absence of evidence’ or simply ‘evidence absence’ category within the legal realm, let alone the factual realm.

Orwell concludes well:

If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy… Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind…

Do we honestly think that we can gain ALL of the evidence from this realm?:

Map from Cohen report: Fill ALL the data gaps?

Map from Cohen report: Fill ALL the data gaps?

Here is Justice Cohen’s language in the ‘decline of Fraser sockeye’ from Volume 2:

Life stage 1 findings
I find that there are plausible mechanisms during the incubation, emergence, and freshwater-rearing parts of life history stage 1 by which numerous freshwater stressors, such as effluent, contaminants, predators, warming streams and lakes, infectious diseases, agriculture, and surface and groundwater extraction may have contributed to the decline.

Although these mechanisms are understood, there is insufficient evidence about the actual impacts these stressors, either singly or cumulatively, have on Fraser River sockeye during this life history stage.

These mechanisms are understood, but “actual impacts” is not? And “may have” contributed…

Hmmmm…

Are we wanting these issues of great, grand ecosystems to look like the ‘mechanisms’ of a bank account…?

As in, “well, mr. salmonguy you say that you ‘may have‘ deposited money to your account, however, we can clearly see that you did not…”

Ecosystems like the North Pacific, or even the Fraser River watershed are mightily complex, complicated, and largely unpredictable entities.

Fraser River watershed

Fraser River watershed

Are we humans expecting that we will delay doing something about certain issues until the evidence is present? Or that ‘findings of fact’ are what is required for action to be taken so as to limit our impacts on other things?

The decline of Fraser sockeye is not due to some unknown entity… We, humans have delivered a good solid 95% + of the “thousand cuts”…

Us. You and Me and Dupree and the other 6 billion+ living souls.

And yet, even if the apparent mechanisms and “actual impacts” slept in the same bed of meaning and ‘understanding’… what would we really do about it?

Wait for the scientists to agree…?

First we’d have to wait for scientists to agree on which knife was delivering the cuts… or wait, was it an axe… no, it was a machete… no, it was a handsaw…

And the salmon farming industry scientist would probably say “what cuts?”

Then we’d have to wait for the proposed ‘solution’… but no, first we’d do that as a ‘pilot study’… then a new government would come into power and cut the funding, and implement ‘their solution’… then some scientists would need to use whistleblower protection and hire security guards, then the Auditor General would get involved, then there’d be a snap election, then there’d be a call for a judicial inquiry… then a court case or two, an appeal, a new government, a fiscal cliff, austerity measures, a bull market, a bear market, a new government… a new scientific discovery… then space travel would take funding priority, then government “Action Plans”, then another review of spending, another court case… and so on and so on.

… go back to top, read again, and rinse and repeat if necessary… (that is if you believe that little ditty on shampoo bottles… ‘rinse and repeat’…).

And if you do then the productivity of Proctor and Gamble will increase a heck of a lot faster then any Pacific sockeye population…

I see evidence of absence that anything is going to change anytime soon… just simply start by doing a rough calculation on the ‘cost’ of Justice Cohen’s recommendations, and this is just for FRASER SCOKEYE – not the other Fraser salmon populations, like the endangered Fraser coho or Chinook… and let alone the other five species of salmon spread throughout BC.

Like every other collapsing fish population with a ‘commercial value’… we will argue, bicker, and use useless language until the last viable population swims into the annals of “was”…

Sadly misplaced focus…? $30 million to ‘eco-terrorists’ opposed to irresponsible oil and gas dev… Yet,$10 Billion of PetroChina ‘investment’ in Canadian sovereignty?

do you know the story of Cerberus the mythical three-headed dog that guarded the gates to Hades?

.

Shhhh… nobody tell the “Harper”- Reform government that maybe they are misplacing energy, time and resources barking up the wrong tree..

And… maybe opening a real can of worms that some folks flapping their Right wings may not want opened… (not mentioning any – Fraser Institute – names…)

Or… is this ruse to bark up the enviro-terrorist tree simply an effective ploy to keep us all:

Hush, Hush

…about the huge increase in PetroChina (Chinese government owned corporation) multi-BILLION dollar investments and direct purchases of Canada tar sands projects, and natural gas, and… and… and…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Coming from the National Post newspaper:

Are new guidelines for charities just upholding current law or a way to silence oil-sands critics?

The Conservative government will keep a closer eye on environment-focused charities accused of breaking rules that cap their political activity, cracking down on groups that allegedly engage in politically charged work beyond the legal limit.

Thursday’s budget arms the Canada Revenue Agency with $8-million over two years to ensure charities devote their resources to charitable work and to improve transparency by asking them to disclose the extent to which their political activities are funded by foreign sources.

“[Some charities] are not acting like they’re a charitable institution; they’re acting like they’re an environmental lobbyist — that’s the big objection,” said [Professor] Frank Atkins, a University of Calgary economist. “They’re hiding behind their charitable status.”

The revenue agency says a charity is allowed to devote up to 10% of its total annual resources to political activities, but Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said this week the government has received “a lot” of complaints from Canadians who worry their donations are going toward political action rather than charity work.

“There is clearly a need, in our view, for more vigilance,” Mr. Flaherty said.

The question of foreign money being used to affect Canadian policy is chief among the government’s concerns, Prof. Atkins [at University of Calgary] said.

“What’s happening out here is that whenever there’s a regulatory approval process, it gets loaded up with all these obscure groups seemingly out of nowhere,” he said, referring to “deep-pocketed foundations in the United States” challenging oil-sands development and the pipeline project. “Even those using Canadian money are still not acting like a charitable institution.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Hmmmm… is that the same Professor Frank Atkins that is listed on the Fraser Institute website as:

Frank’s main academic areas of interest are monetary policy and the application of time series analysis to macroeconomic data. Frank had the privilege of supervising the Master of Arts (Economics) thesis of Stephen Harper, who is now the Prime Minister of Canada.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Well… geee… National Post reporter that sounds like some credible, un-biased ‘sources’…?

Seems the Fraser Institute got quoted twice in this article… as the article finishes with:

Niels Veldhuis, a Fraser Institute vice-president, said there is no question the federal government believes some environmental groups are not abiding by the rules.

“The government ought to look into that,” he said.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Right… this is the same Niels Veldhuis who thinks that Stats Canada numbers are wrong on many Canadians ability to meet basic needs:

as of 2005, only 4.7 per cent of the Canadian population did not have enough income to meet basic needs

(Stats Can suggests its almost twice that…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Oh wait… is that also the same University of Calgary that has various “Research Chair” positions in its Faculty of Medicine sponsored by the likes of Enbridge, Husky Energy, and no shortage of either pharmaceutical companies or other corporations?

For example:

AstraZeneca Chair in Cardiovascular Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Who’s AstraZeneca? Well, they’re a “global biopharmaceutical company…”

Or, the GSK Professorship in Inflammatory Lung Disease — what’s GSK?

Oh that’s just GlaxoSmithKline Inc.:

“GlaxoSmithKline is one of the largest research and development (R&D) investors in the industry, collaborating with academic institutions, governments and other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to help people live healthier lives.”

Or, the Novartis Chair in Schizophrenia Research. Who’s Novartis?

Oh just this little company that:

Over the past decade, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada has introduced 20 new medicines that have had an important impact on patients suffering from a wide variety of major illnesses…

.

Not that I’m necessarily saying this is “bad” or “good”…

Just asking the ‘fair question’…

as, when Harper and buddies start barking, they should probably think it through a bit, and maybe ask around their caucus:

S.H.: “hmmm Joe [as in Oliver] is there maybe some worm cans we might open here?”

J.O.: “Oh no, Steve-O we’ll just shit-can those enviro-terrorists out there in BC…”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

It’s also the same University of Calgary Economics dept that lists one of its “Affiliates” as the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

Who has the mission to:

to provide relevant, independent and objective economic research in energy and environmental issues to benefit business, government, academia and the public.

And:

CERI’s economic studies are highly relevant and objective and the analysis and advice contained therein are sought by government and business planners and decision-makers.

Ahhh, yes… I read one of those highly “objective” studies from their website:

Oil Spills and First Nations:  Exploring Environmental and Land Issues Surrounding the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Here’s one of the many fine “objective” comments from the report (and it quickly becomes clear who is “to benefit”…:

A major oil spill in the Kitimat estuary region may cause a high number of sea bird mortalities as well as marine mammal and fish deaths due to the abundance of species living there and the diversity of the habitat. However, there are controls in place to reduce the likelihood of widespread and catastrophic spillage of an oil tanker or within the oil pipeline.

Even if such an event should occur, the habitat range of most species is vast enough that populations should be able to recover in time…

Oh yea… interested to see where that ‘objective’ theory comes from… (e.g. don’t worry about the effect of oil spills on migratory species…)

Or,

Conclusions on the Environment 

…Construction activities will cause a deterioration of habitat, but this deterioration is short-lived and species will be able to recover.

And, apparently, this ‘objective’ organization that wrote this little 50-page report (including relying on several references from the 1970s), is also an expert on issues of aboriginal law & aboriginal rights and title:

Aboriginal law is not cast in stone, with much depending on the nation involved and the context:

ancient Code of Hammurabi (written in stone...)

Huh… fascinating… I’m not sure that I know of any “law cast in stone”.

Oh wait… there is the ancient Code of Hammurabi…

.

.

But don’t worry say the authors:

CERI recognizes the various environmental concerns and does not hold a position for or against the pipeline…

(Funny, but reading the report I caught a strong whiff of bovine deposit surrounding that statement…)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Where’s the root of some of this enviro-charitable-crimes theory coming from?

Well… Vancouver-based researcher Vivian Krause (@fair questions) seems to be tooting her horn on this one…

She wrote an article in January in the Financial Post suggesting that maybe her research was at the root of Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s and honorable Steve-O, great leader’s, crack-down on these apparent ‘enviro-terrorist’ organizations…

So much so that she was actually asked to come and testify at the federal House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources in early Feb. 2012.

the National Post newspaper opinion piece:

Vivian Krause: Oil sands money trail

Last week, on the eve of the environmental review for the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project that would carry Alberta oil to Kitimat for export to Asia, Canada’s Minister for Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, expressed concern that foreign-funded environmentalists would jeopardize the review and block the pipeline.

Oliver didn’t mention my name, but the research that raised concerns about the foreign funding of environmentalism in Canada is apparently mine.

For five years, on my own nickel, I have been following the money and the science behind environmental campaigns and I’ve been doing what the Canada Revenue Agency hasn’t been doing: I’ve gathered information about the origin and the stated purpose of grants from U.S. foundations to green groups in Canada. My research is based on U.S. tax returns because the U.S. Internal Revenue Service requires greater disclosure from non-profits than does the CRA.

Speaking on CBC last night [Jan. 16, 2011], Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “But just because certain people in the United States would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the northern half of North America, I don’t think that’s part of what our review process [for the Northern Gateway] is all about.”

_ _ _ _ _ _

Krause has been getting some federal government airtime on this one…

A Vancouver Sun article (Feb. 9, 2011) reporting on her testimony to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources:

Vivian Krause’s conspiracy theory — you decide

Vancouver researcher Vivian Krause is one of the most controversial figures in the rather incredible battle shaping up over the Northern Gateway pipeline.  You can google her name and find various profiles, but the bottom line is that this personable Vancouver researcher has portrayed herself as a woman of marginal means who has devoted the past five years or so of her life to unearthing details about U.S. financial influence on the Canadian environmental movement…

… I should add that hers is a rather remarkable story, as she is surely more influential on Canadian natural resource policy right now than the vast majority of parliamentarians we’re paying lavish salaries to in this town [Ottawa].  Her theory about a grand “plan” behind all this money has been given credibility by none other than Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Enbridge Inc. CEO Pat Daniel.

[link to Edmonton journal article also by same journalist: "American anti-pipeline trusts just blowing smoke? Right and left have conspiracy theories about groups’ funding" with quotes from great-leader Harper and CEO Daniels]

Krause appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources today, and there were some lively exchanges…

The article goes on to quote some of her testimony…

_ _ _ _ _ _

Now, if you’re curious at all, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources was:

Established by the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, the mandate of the the Standing Committee on Natural Resources is to study and report on matters referred to it by the House of Commons, or on topics the Committee itself chooses to examine.

It can study all matters relating to the mandate, management, operation, budget and legislation of the Department of Natural Resources and of organizations pertaining to its portfolio.

The issues being dealt with by the Committee that Krause was called to testify at is the:

Current and Future State of Oil and Gas Pipelines and Refining Capacity in Canada.

She testified on Feb. 9, 2011 and the transcripts are available by clicking on the link.

Here are some curious components:

What hasn’t been known until recently, however, is that some of the opponents of various pipeline projects, and the campaigns against the Canadian energy sector also have some deep-pocketed supporters south of the border. In order for the joint review panel to conduct its work in a manner that is open, fair, and transparent, I believe that funding on all sides should be out in the open.

In my review of the American tax returns of the foundations that are funding the environmental movement both in the U.S. and in Canada, I’ve traced $300 million that has gone from American charitable foundations to environmental campaigns affecting our country. Most of my analysis is based on American tax returns because the IRS requires greater disclosure than the CRA.

The $300 million is from roughly 850 grants that I’ve traced from 10 foundations. In addition to these foundations, there are an additional dozen or more American foundations that have granted substantial funds to Canadian environmental groups.

By my analysis, American funding from the foundations I’ve followed has increased ten-fold over the past decade, from about $4 million in 2000 to $50 million in 2010. Of the $300 million in American funding I’ve traced, at least $30 million is specifically for campaigns targeting the oil and gas industry in Canada

… It’s not small amounts of money from a large number of foreign sources; it’s very large amounts of money from a very small number of billion-dollar foundations.

Actually, my blog and most of my writing has been about the science and the money behind environmental campaigns. Really, it’s the use of the flawed science and some of the exaggerated claims that are my biggest concerns. Some of what the environmental organizations are saying is simply untrue…

When billionaire funders are involved in influencing public opinion and public policy on a major issue of national importance, I think the money should be out in the open, whether the billionaire funders are American or Canadian.

I believe that this applies to foreign investment and philanthropy, as well.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Well… Ms. Krause… you are EXACTLY RIGHT!

Just like Professor Atkins of the Fraser Institute… errr… University of Calgary… errr… Fraser…

What was it he said again at the beginning of this article…?

“They’re hiding behind their charitable status.”

Seems Fraser Institute (a charitable organization) researchers might be hiding behind the ‘objectivity’ and ‘neutrality’ of an academic institution…?

I find it quite curious actually… I agree with many aspects of Ms. Krause’s research and even Professor Atkins… I’ve asked similar questions since working and serving on a Board for a large enviro organization over a decade ago.

Not in a “conspiracy theory” manner, but more in a: Whose mandate are we fulfilling here?

I called these types of enviro-organizations: US-foundation puppies — and decided to find a little different line of work…

It’s pretty hard to imagine that one is doing good, principled work on environmental issues and otherwise when one’s work is simply being funded by money that was basically made by oil tycoons or computer giants, or otherwise…

As the old saying goes: “there is no such thing as clean money”…

It’s all dirty.

_ _ _ _ _ _

So What?

And, as Ms. Krause asks in her testimony, some folks suggest: “So What?…” about her findings.

I ask the same: SOOO what?

What difference does $300 million… or… errrr… ‘targeted $30 million’ make…

…when compared to the Billions of dollars that PetroChina has offered to invest in the proposed Enbridge Northern Exit-way pipeline,

Or the $2.5 Billion that PetroChina invested to buy out Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. MacKay River oil sands project.

Or, just a few months ago… (Feb. 2012)

PetroChina takes stake in Shell gas field in B.C.

Canada’s push to access Asian energy markets got a shot in the arm Thursday after China’s largest oil and gas firm agreed to buy a 20-per-cent stake in Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s shale gas properties in British Columbia.

With the planned investment, PetroChina International – a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp. – has underscored its commitment to participate in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that Shell is planning for Kitimat, B.C.

Neither side would release the value of the deal Thursday, but reports in Asia pegged it at $1-billion.

Or,

PetroChina to invest $5.4 billion Canada gas

CALGARY—PetroChina has agreed to invest $5.4 billion for half of Encana Corp.’s Cutbank Ridge shale natural gas assets, enabling an enormous chunk of land on the Alberta-British Columbia boundary to be developed more quickly than would otherwise have been the case.

“This agreement is the culmination of more than nine months of discussions between PetroChina and Encana and represents both a significant achievement and a major milestone in the developing relationship of our two companies,” Encana CEO Randy Eresman said in a statement Wednesday.

That’s just a cool, $8 – $10 BILLION DOLLARS of PetroChina investment alone in Canada’s resource sector — in the last year or so…

$10,000,000,000

What percentage is this $30 million of conspiracy-theory U.S. foundation money in comparison…

I think we’re far below 0.1%…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Hmmmm… like Ms. Krause testified…

When billionaire funders are involved in influencing public opinion and public policy on a major issue of national importance, I think the money should be out in the open, whether the billionaire funders are American or Canadian [or Chinese?]. I believe that this applies to foreign investment and philanthropy, as well.

Yes, let’s get those ‘books’ opened.

And while we’re at it, lets’ get those book of The Fraser Institute open as well. And maybe the the Canadian Energy Research Institute, and, heck, while we’re at it how about the Van Horne Institute as well. (Another of those neutral objective ‘think tanks’ affiliated with universities in Alberta — and consisting of a longgg list of executives from oil and gas and pipeline companies).

The Fraser Institute is also listed as a charitable organization in Canada.

Go read its Annual Reports and see if they report any real numbers…

Where is the Fraser Institute getting its money? (some suggest players like Exxon Mobil).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

All in all this fuss over where environmental organizations are getting their funds seems like the difference between peeing from a helicopter on a pine-beetle-ravaged-forest-fire (e.g. potential $30 million in opposition funds to Canada’s oil and gas sector) and the all-out Asian-giant-resource-gobbling population-exploding BEAST

of BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars… and this little issue of a Billion people or so…

And yet, the Conservative/Reform crew just allocated $8 million to the Canada Revenue Agency to ‘crack down’ on this crazed-funding frenzy to enviro-terrorist organizations… that apparently will stop at nothing to protect their backyards…

Come-on… let’s get a grip here folks.

Where’s the potential bogey-man… in OLD oil money flowing north out of the States to pay minimum wage to enviro-researchers and organization?

OR

in NEW oil money flowing in the BILLIONS & BILLIONS & BILLIONS from a government (directly as PetroChina is owned by the Chinese government… they have to do something with all that American debt they’re holding)…

…that has a rather shady and questionable practice of dealing with several things… like basic human rights (ever heard of the Tibetans? or the veto on doing something in Syria…?), the environment (have you checked Beijing’s air quality today…?), dissenters (check recent headlines), and so on…?

Which is not to suggest there is a bogey-man — simply asking where should the inquiring eye, research, and questions really be directed?

Should Canada’s “Standing Committees” be spending time on small potatoes… or the entire quarter section potato farm…?

Should Canada’s “Standing Committees” be spending time inquiring into ‘conspiracy’ theories about how the soon to be bankrupt neighbors to the south want to keep all the oil to themselves…?

Does anyone really think that these BILLIONS of dollars of Chinese investment in Canada’s oil sector are simply going to be used to ship oil and gas to the U.S. through existing transportation networks?

No frigging way!!

BILLIONS of dollars of investment by a government-owned corporation mean that that Government is going to damn well want the resources they paid for… and… well… OWN. (like the former Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. MacKay River and other projects).

Let’s maybe call off the Conservative/Reform-Cerberus (three-headed dog)… and have an honest discussion about handing away Canadian resources to a foreign entity.

Remember when Canadians ‘lost it’ over Mulroney handing away Canada to our southern neighbors through the Free Trade Agreement?

This new brand of “Conservatives” (which even the old Conservatives are uncomfortable with… eh, Joe Clark?… seem to have lost that “progressive” tagline…) seem ‘hell-bent’ on putting the dogs at the gates of selling Canadian sovereignty, selling Canada’s future, and doing a brilliant job of making a fuss about little things, so as to provide the infamous diversionary tactic…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

What does this have to do with wild salmon?

Everything!

and marine resources… and ocean protection… and shoreline preservation… and fish habitat… and water pollution… and… and…

This whole crackdown is like busting the kid that takes spare change left in a phone booth tray, while in the lobby of Enron…

It smells of something much, much more ominous… (and sadly, this is no April Fool’s…)

PetroChina investing in BC’s wild salmon… (NOT)

inspired by good 'ol Far Side

.

If this isn’t worrisome to Canadian sovereignty, aboriginal rights & title, and unsettled BC treaties… well… maybe we might as well shed the maple leaf and the white parts of the flag, and scuttle the BC Treaty Process (maybe a self-fulfilling prophecy), and why bother with any court cases about aboriginal rights and title…?

Some headlines from today and yesterday:

PetroChina bids to help build $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline

CALGARY — Chinese investment in Canada’s energy sector could move to a new level if PetroChina wins a bid to build the controversial Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline.

The largest of China’s three state-controlled oil companies has expressed an interest in building the $5.5-billion project across the northern Canadian Rockies and is considering purchasing an equity stake, said Pat Daniel, president and CEO of proponent Enbridge Inc.

“They have made the point to us that they are very qualified in building pipelines, and we will take that into consideration when we are looking for contractors,” Mr. Daniel said in an interview. “It’s an open bid process. They are a very big organization, they build a lot of pipelines, and they would love to be involved from what they have told me.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

PetroChina produced more oil than industry giant Exxon Mobil in 2011

NEW YORK — A big shift is happening in Big Oil: an American giant now ranks behind a Chinese upstart.

Exxon Mobil is no longer the world’s biggest publicly traded producer of oil. For the first time, that distinction belongs to a 13-year-old Chinese company called PetroChina. The Beijing company was created by the Chinese government to secure more oil for that nation’s booming economy.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Canada’s ‘Cushing moment’: A northern pipeline crisis looms

CALGARY – Oil traders still grappling with an unprecedented pipeline bottleneck in the U.S. Midwest that roiled global energy markets last year should beware: Canada may be next.

The pipelines that carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands and the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to U.S. refiners may run out of capacity as soon as 2015, some analysts now warn.

Fears that the export of Canadian crude will be constrained have risen recently as a result of pipeline project delays and the unyielding growth of North Dakota output. Any resulting glut could weaken Canadian oil prices, depress profits for producers like Suncor Energy Inc and Cenovus Energy Inc and choke growth in the largest source of U.S. imports.

A crisis could be avoided, though. Major pipeline operators like Enbridge Inc say they’re confident that an estimated 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of idle capacity on existing Canada-to-U.S. lines is more than enough for up to five years, sufficient time to complete new lines or add pumps.

That view is by no means unanimous.

The government is also taking action. Canada is set to push forward new measures to cut approval times for major pipeline projects in order to speed the completion of proposed routes to the Pacific Ocean and refiners in Asia.

“At a certain point there will be an issue (with capacity),” Joe Oliver, Canada’s natural resources minister, said in an interview this week. “We remain optimistic that pipelines can be built in time to avoid … the kind of problem they have in Cushing.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Ottawa to eases pipeline rules in bid to boost oil exports to Asia

The federal government gave a boost to oil sands exports to Asia by streamlining the environmental review process and making it more difficult for environmental groups to mount an opposition.

[ummm... yeah... it doesn't seem to just be "environmental groups mounting opposition... there's this finnicky thing called: 'average Canadians'... that are in opposition]

In its budget brought down Thursday, Ottawa said it will propose legislation aimed at having “one project, one review” that establishes clear timelines for approval of big resource and industrial projects, reduces duplication and regulatory burdens, and focuses resources on the largest projects with the biggest environmental impacts.

Most of Canada’s oil is now exported to the United States, where it is heavily discounted because of pipeline bottlenecks.

Canadian governments and industry have been pushing for market diversification in Asia by way of new pipelines to the West Coast, but have run into opposition from the environmental movement and First Nations that are targeting regulatory reviews to delay the projects…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

If Enbridge gets turned down in the current process surrounding the Northern Exit-way pipeline then folks in B.C. better be ready for an onslaught of pipeline proposals, that will be guided by the new Harper “one project, one review” process.

And PetroChina, now bigger than Exxon (which carried the title of world’s biggest money-maker until Apple recently unseeded it) will not take “NO” for an answer.

Especially when the tar sands oil in Alberta essentially becomes theirs… through straight up buying up whatever they want. There’s already some $20 billion or so (on the low end) invested by PetroChina and other Chinese firms in Alberta’s tar sands operations.

When the world’s biggest oil company, which is trying to feed an insatiable beast…

well, Houston… and B.C. … we have a problem.

Can I get that with a side of bullshit please…

do you see a problem?

.

Driving home today and listening to CBC Radio I caught a curious and severely conflicting story, which highlights the out-of-touch(esness) of politics and otherwise in the current Canadian political and business climate.

This seems to have been a rather steady flow the past little while.

One segment discussed the release of poll results by the ‘respected’ firm Angus-Reid: Canadians Want Budget to Help the Jobless, Ease Pain at the Pump.

Apparently, according to a poll of 1000 Canadians (I’m sure it was representative of all homes…):

Respondents across the country prefer balancing the budget to increasing spending by a 3-to-1 margin.

Many Canadian adults think the federal government is right to reduce spending, but more than two thirds are calling for measures that would help the unemployed and reduce the price of gas across the country, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in partnership with the Toronto Star has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,007 Canadian adults, half of respondents (51%) expect the budget that will be tabled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty this week to focus primarily on spending cuts and fiscal restraint.

Three-in-five Canadians (61%) believe the federal government should try to balance the budget, even if it means reduced spending on services, while 21 per cent would opt to increase spending, even if it means continued budget deficits.

So… if there is apparently 60% of Canadians that believe the federal government should “balance the budget”… how many actually know what it means to “balance the budget”?

… let alone what a ‘balanced budget’ is?

(and I don’t mean this rudely to those who assume a balanced budget is a GREAT thing…)

(that’s that old marketing is everything, everything is marketing…thing).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Well…a balanced budget is not really all that different than a household budget.

A ‘balanced budget’ simply means there is no surplus or deficit at year end.

It’s “balanced”.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

But what about the overall debt that Canada carries?

Well… a balanced budget means there’s $0 left over at the end of the year. That means $0 to pay down the massive debt load that we already carry.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation suggests yours and my share is a good solid $17,000 each… or so.

For a grand total debt of a little under $600 billion or so… (if i’m counting the zeros right?)

So how much of that debt gets paid down within a ‘balanced’ budget?

Well… the same amount that your credit card debt gets paid down if you have $0 left over at the end of the month…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

And what’s getting snuck in at the back-end of tomorrow’s federal “Harper Government” budget is a potential gutting of the Environmental Assessment legislation and the Fisheries Act.

Is this in line with federal NDP suggestions that these guttings of environmental legislation are for: “Stephen Harper’s friends”?

Please show us how gutting environmental legislation, meaning delaying the costs of things like climate change, habitat destruction and so on, to mine and your kids’ generations — makes sense in the long run?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

And come on polling companies… and politicians… let’s not fog over the tough reality in Canada right now.

We have a serious issue with literacy and numeracy.

Wonder why there’s such an issue with voter turn-out…?

Well, one is that politicians generally spew little more than platitudes and B.S. simply to appease a fickle ‘voting’ public, which is quickly approaching less than 50% of the Canadian population. (worse in Provincial elections)

The other half of the population is struggling to read recommended doses of cough syrup medication required for their children’s cold…

….and figuring out how they can improve their numeracy to deal with day-to-day realities of mortgages, credit card debt, and whatever ‘low-interest’ (high penalty) credit deal Canadian banks and otherwise have been handing out…

(those same institutions then bitching about the high Canadian household debt load… See Bank of Montreal economist headlines today)

(… those same institutions who handed them – Canadian households – that debt in the first place… you two-faced, talk out of all sides of your mouth, rolling in profit institutions…)

Now unfortunately, Canadians largely have a menu that consists of a main dish of bullshit (farmed GMO), with a hefty side order of green salad bullshit (sponsored by Monsanto), and a fine drink sponsored by your ‘multi-national’, transnational, conglomerate, (once Canadian, but now foreign bought out company) (not to mention, once Canadian, but now foreign-owned grown in Canada hops and wheat, in turn fermented in a once-owned Canadian beverage).

Yes… I’m sure the budget coming tomorrow is all about “middle-class Canadians”…

DFO Shitshow planning on going sneaky… Some folks seem to forget: ‘NO HABITAT, NO FISH!’

one might wrongly assume that "deterrence" is the reason...

.

It has been a little while since I’ve had to do two posts in one day… however the news on the wire today regarding the Harper Government assault on fish, fisheries, coastal communities and so on — is impressive.

The graph above comes from information presented at the Cohen Commission into Declines of Fraser River sockeye.

It also comes from a press release put out today by Otto Langer an over 30-year DFO staffer, and even longer-time award-winning, fish biologist.

The full press release can be downloaded here: Otto Langer Press Release on Harper gutting Fisheries Act

Here are some lowlights of the apparent Harper Conservative plan to sneak a gutting of the Fisheries Act on to the back of the upcoming Budget Ombnibus Bill.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Langer's Fisheries Act historical summary

.

Here’s the current reading of Section 35 of the Fisheries Act — pretty clear and to the point, yet still challenging to prove in court…:

current Section 35 of Canada's Fisheries Act.

.

Here’s the new weasel-word, bumpf-filled, ambiguity-laced — giving Ministerial fettering to everything — language that is trying to be sneaked in without consultation with anyone:

New Reform... ahhh... i mean Conservative government weasel words proposed for Fisheries Act.

.

As Langer points out in his press release:

The newly drafted provision [35(1) above that takes out 'habitat' and adds 'fish']  legislation is not intended to protect fish habitat in any matter whatsoever.

Langer’s anecdote to this is great… he remembers a time when DFO used to hand out pens at conferences and such that said:

NO HABITAT, NO FISH!

Fitting close to the press release:

nothing like a 'neutering' to ruin your day...

.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

In closing this pathetic state of affairs and ongoing shitshow at DFO… (and other areas of Canada)…

One could look at the graph above and suggest to Mr. “tough-on-crime” Harper that it seems crimes are going down everywhere… even in the destruction of fisheries habitat.

Look at this wonderful graph proving the ever effective crime-fighting tactic of: DETERRENCE.

Must be that Fisheries Act violations have just got so nasty and onerous for polluters that the need for investigations is dwindling, and deterrence is working….

…hmmmm….

Somehow I doubt it.

48 convictions in 1998 down to 1 conviction in 2008.

This is called a gutting of staff, balls, and teeth — and most sadly, destruction of fish habitat, especially wild salmon’s, at an alarming rate.

This also means an enforcement and compliance division within DFO that probably feels about as proud of their job as a child labourer putting together those blue jeans you’re wearing…

Nothing like job security, meaningfulness, and pride to really make a Ministry sing with glee…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Goal for Harper and his Reform buddies… 0 [zero] convictions, under the Fisheries Act.

Let’s get tough on crime, everybody…

(or fish, i suppose, depending on which way you look at it).

Plus, I was just wondering (in reference to the ‘proposed’ amendments) … ummm…

…which “fish” does not have an “ecological value“?

And could somebody please show me the legal definition of “ecological value” or even ‘economic’ or ‘cultural value’ for that reason.

That’s the point.

This is about as gray, fuzzy, and blurry as that Hawiian highway was for Gordon Campbell back in the early 2000s. [oh right, it was his personal holiday... not government business]

Translation…. 0 convictions.

(and tarsands expansion, and pipelines rammed down BC’ers throats, and more fracking, and so on and so on.)

Hold on to your hats, here comes George W. Bush Canadian-style. (sans the required apology… “oh sorry, excuse me new NDP leader” says PM-bully Harper…)

(NOT).

Think the Fisheries Act is going to get neutered… well… this ain’t nothing yet (under this ‘majority)… going to be a whole lot of current legislation losing their balls… going to be an all out choir fest.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

And just to really ruin your fishy day… take a look at most recent post at Alex Morton’s website:

ISA virus in BC Supermarkets and Vedder River

She had Atlantic salmon tested that she bought at 3 B.C. supermarkets (most likely Vancouver Is.)

Five of them tested positive for ISA [infectious salmon anemia].

Yet, the Feds, DFO, the Province and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency continue to deny that ISA exists on the BC coast.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Oh wait… I can hear the response from Harpers PMO office…

“ohhhh…. you mean thatISA… we thought you were talking about a different ISA…(like the cartoon character from Dora the Explorer… or something..)”

ISA from Dora the Explorer

…oh yeah, we’ve actually known that that ISA… that nasty salmon thingy…has actually been here for decades… probably since the last Conservative majority (the real Conservatives… think Mulroney, and Clarke and stuff…) …sorry for the confusion, everyone…”

[Harper (whispering): "hey Ashfield, somebody go muzzle a scientist or audit an enviro-terrorist organization or something..."]

 

department of fisheries and oceans… (DFO)… rhymes with ‘shitshow’…

 

latest page on site...

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Quite entertainingly… if you do a web search of the term “shitshow” there are some similarities in definitions, mainly:

n. A messy situation, especially involving drunkenness and partying.

There’s another good one that provides the use of the term in a sentence:

Things can’t possibly be so bad at work that you’d volunteer for another trip to this shitshow.

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I actually had intentions of doing a post on the apparent Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO/shitshow)  ‘modernization plan for Canada’s commercial fisheries.’

This was intended to be a follow-up to two previous posts on this disaster of a document:  The future of Canada’s schizophrenic Fisheries Ministry… called into question. (And DFO gets another new name.) which ended out being quite a popular post after looking at stats for this website.

The other: The future of Canada’s schizophrenic Fisheries Ministry… Politicians of Canada: time to get a frigging grip.

The last post commenting on:

Who’s responsible for this mess?

Producing hundreds upon hundreds of pages of documents and then labeling them nice boutique-y names like a “suite of policies” — does not a plan make…

Last thought… of which future posts will delve into…

At the moment, research and statistics suggest that just under 50% of Canadians do not have the literacy required to meet day-to-day life demands.

This means, 50% of Canadians have literacy levels below the International Adult Literacy rate survey rating of Level 3 — which is approximately the level that someone graduating from high school reads at.

Yet, Minister Ashfield carries on about:

It is estimated that 80,000 Canadians make their living or a portion of their living directly from fishing and fishing-related activities. But current practices and regulations, along with a challenging global market, are increasingly restricting the ability of Canada’s fisheries to contribute to Canadian prosperity in a changing economic climate.

Well… if close to 40,000 of those Canadians do not possess the literacy skills required to meet day-to-day demands of life — then how the hell are they going to wade through the hundreds and hundreds of pages, PowerPoint slides, pathetic YouTube videos of PowerPoint slides, and webpages to adequately “comment” and be adequately “consulted” on an issue that affects Canadians from coast to coast to coast?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

And as mentioned in that post, I was going to expand on this issue of low literacy in Canada, and true democracy.

You know that ‘democracy’ espoused by so many ‘western’ politicians these days that has its roots in the ancient Greek meaning of the word:

from Greek demokratia “popular government,” from demos “common people,” originally “district” + kratos “rule, strength”.

Good ‘ol, government rule for the people, by the people and so on and so on…

_ _ _ _ _ _

I was then going to do a little map for the sheer number of documents that one would need to read in relation to this apparent ‘modernization’ plan, simply to be able to adequately comment on how all the pieces apparently fit together…

… in other words, translate the ‘bumpf’ and bureaucratic-speak…

BUTTTT…

When I went back to the DFO website to try and find all of these documents, I found this:

Ooops... how embarassing... "not found"...

Gee… is the DFO website in this area crashed because of the sheer number of people visiting the day before the apparent… slash that… the second try at a deadline for comments, which is apparently tomorrow, March. 14, 2012??

Oddly, this is still at the DFO website (this is another screenshot):

still there... no links to actual document...

But there’s no documents available anymore, no links…

… other than links to the “consultation” page.

One can still go provide their comments on the ‘modernization plan’, which isn’t actually on the website anymore, in the little defined, limited boxes:

consultation on a non-existent document...?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

So I guess DFO subversively blocked my webpost today…

I was going to ask the question: how does consultation occur with the ‘people’ that comprise ‘democracy’ if close to 50% of them do not have the literacy they require for day-to-day life and jobs — let alone commenting adequately on hundreds if not thousands of pages of DFO documents and proposals?

_ _ _ _ _ _

But… today, a day before the deadline for comments… ummm… literacy is not the issue…

… as there’s no document to read.

It’s gone.

… slipped into the electronic ether… or just pulled off the site by DFO?

Oooops.

I’ve provided an edited cover though…

do a web search with the title of this document in it: “the future of Canada’s commercial fisheries”…

from east to west on Canada’s coast, people are pissed off.

Hmmm… wonder if that has anything to do with the mysterious document disappearance?

the DFO shitshow

.

maybe the songwriters or poets out there can gets started on a catchy diddy on this one:

Hey, ho… we’re DFO… we don’t know,cuz we’re a shitshow. Hey ho, what do you know,about the DFO shitshow.consultation… blaahhh.modernization… yeehaaah.

(or something like that…)

‘absence of evidence must be evidence of absence’… when it comes to ancient knowledge of fisheries?

Ancient 'British' rock fish trap dating to approx. 1000

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Over the last two days I’ve had the good fortune to listen to Dr. Charles Menzies (Associate Professor in Anthropology at UBC) speak in Prince George on two different topics – yet intimately related…

On the UBC website it lists Charles research interests as such:

My primary research interests are the production of anthropological films, natural resource management (primarily fisheries related), political economy, contemporary First Nations’ issues, maritime anthropology and the archaeology of north coast BC.

I have conducted field research in, and have produced films concerning, north coastal BC, Canada (including archaeological research); Brittany, France; and Donegal, Ireland.

Last night, at Art Space within Prince George’s independent book store Books & Company, Menzies delivered a presentation called:

Abalone, Pipelines, and Aboriginal Rights – Making Sense of Coastal Opposition to the Northern Gateway Project.

Found it to be quite a fascinating subject, quite enjoyed Menzies taking some pointed shots at academia and some ‘status-quo’ theories of some academics. Stirring the pot a little… (wooden spoon anyone?)

Namely, taking shots at some archaeologists that have adopted some rather faulty views of what folks on the coast may, or may not have been doing pre-contact.

You know at the apparent “discovery” of North America… and especially coastal northwestern North America.

In the research that informed Menzies’ presentation he visited ancient (and contemporary) Gitxaała village sites.

Gitxaała (Kitkatla) territory is south down the coast from Prince Rupert, BC and in the general vicinity south of the Skeena River mouth. As I understand it, Dr. Menzies’ family comes from that area, and he himself grew up in Prince Rupert.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

He explained that his research was quite purposely directed to do some investigation of community-known ancient village sites (and still contemporary used areas) which are along the proposed Enbridge oil super-tanker route, which would be used if Enbridge and Harper get their way in ramming a TarSands oil pipeline (Northern Exit-way) down the throats of north-central, north-coastal BC people’s throat.

(that last bit being my editorializing…).

He explained that the ‘status-quo’ archaeological ‘investigations’ and theories of this particular area suggest that people of this area did not harvest many abalone.

Community members most clearly say otherwise…

But archaeological theory continued to deny otherwise… look at our evidence, they say…

good old: ‘absence of evidence must be evidence of absence’…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Dr. Menzies and his crew, through low impact archaeological investigation and community elder direction to sites, sort of blew that proverbial misguided boat out of the water.

Or… i suppose… put the bilhaa (abalone) back in the water… one might say…

Menzies’ and crew found, what one might characterize, as no shortage of evidence of abalone use by ancients. Some dating back further than 4,000 years.

Menzies has an interesting paper at his publications page documenting the ancient Gitxaała connection to abalone  — bilhaa.

Menzies_ Abalone_2010

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

There’s a fitting quote early in the paper, which also relates to recent posts on this site regarding the federal government’s apparent ‘modernization of Canada’s commercial fisheries’:

The future of Canada’s schizophrenic Fisheries Ministry… called into question. (And DFO gets another new name.)

Menzies suggests:

The development of the non-aboriginal commercial dive fishery in British Columbia is a classic example of competitive greed combining with ineffectual resource management to decimate a resource.

The story of the collapse of abalone (bilhaa ) up and down the coast, is a common story, caught quite well by Menzies:

Bilhaa is one of a set of Gitxaała cultural keystone species. Cultural keystone species are species that “play a unique role in shaping and characterizing the identity of the people who rely on them.

These are species that become embedded in a people’s cultural traditions and narratives, their ceremonies, dances, songs, and discourse”. Until the late 20th century, Gitxaała people were unhindered in the harvesting of bilhaa within the traditional territory and in accord with longstanding systems of indigenous authority and jurisdiction.

However, the rapid expansion of a non-aboriginal commercial dive fishery through the 1970s-1980s brought bilhaa stocks perilously close to extinction. The DFO responded to this non-aboriginal induced crisis by closing the total bilhaa fishery. DFO made no apparent effort to accommodate indigenous interests.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Abalone (bilhaa), was most certainly not just limited to the BC coast.

In a recent research project I’ve been involved in… here is an image from old Father Morice’s journals (e.g. namesake for Moricetown, Morice Lake, etc.) from Dakelh (Carrier) people in the now Ft. St. James area in late 1800s.

abalone ornament from Dakelh people of BC interior

These types of ornaments would have traveled in on the oolichan grease trails and other various trade routes including dentalia shells, and other items, with prized hides of various sorts and soapberry traveling to the coast.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

In today’s presentation at UNBC Charles spoke about his research into artisanal fisheries on the coast of France — in other words small family, or community owned fisheries…

…and the impact of globalization on these fisheries and fisherfolks.

The story is remarkably similar to the story of agriculture throughout Canada, and other areas. The move from family-owned plots of land and specialized crops, to monoculture, highly centralized and controlled institutions and corporations that control much of the flow.

As Menzies suggested, when fish prices change in Brazil it affects fisherfolks in Canada… the impact of globalization (and maybe one might suggest: ‘systems theory’…)

Similar with wheat, barley, rye, and so on…

The fish market of the globe is largely controlled by only a handful of organizations. Fishing gear is largely down to only two or three companies.

Gee, does this sound like Monsanto or other mega multinational corporations controlling agriculture worldwide…?

The benefits of this, largely benefiting only a few, and the implications and drawbacks having devastating consequences on the small players of the world — you know… the little players like community members and families.

… those same “families” that all politicians seem to be soooo concerned about…

…from BC’s current un-elected premier Clark to the highest fed levels in Canada and even current Republican blather flooding Canadian airways these days as they try and select a presidential candidate.

(gee… one might almost feel bad for all those “singles” out there… hey?)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The great thing about sitting at the ‘back’ during presentations such as Dr. Menzies’ is that one can watch the various academics squirm and frown with mere mention of ideas that might challenge the status-quo economic theories or otherwise that are currently being jammed down the whole medley of ‘students’ out there.

All the more sad as they riddle themselves with debt (students that is) the size of a small European nation and learning tired and worn out theories — such as the “invisible hand of the market” and other ‘strength of privatization’-bumpf flying around like the old passenger pigeon of old

(or running around like a dodo bird with its head cut off).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Not unlike the current Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ bumpf-filled, fluffy, blather around ‘modernizing’ Canada’s fisheries.

(yeah, sure… go for it… modernize the ‘fishery’… but I think i can safely say that the fish themselves are not all that interested in ‘modernizing’

… think it’s called barely surviving…

…fish populations around the world are on death-row, which means the fleet can be as modern as it wants to be, but an empty fish net, is an empty fish net

…even if it’s the latest carbon-fiber, titanium-lined, indestructible twine net, with GPS-spotter plane, fuel efficient, carbon credit, carbon neutral, double-hulled, long-distance trawl, Marine Stewardship Council-certified, boat and fairly-paid, union-represented crew.

.

empty is empty…

(net… river… ocean… shoreline that once had abalone…)

or we… simply… just keep fishing down the food chain until bullheads start looking pretty tasty at the latest and greatest restaurants…

_ _ _ _ _ _

Great finish to this, from Menzies (and colleague Caroline Butler) paper: “Returning to Selective Fishing through Indigenous Fisheries Knowledge”:

The historical abundance of salmon along the west coast of North America has been significantly reduced during the last two centuries of industrial harvest. Commercial fisheries from California to Alaska and points in between have faced clearly documented restrictions on fishing effort and collapse of specific salmon runs.

Even while salmon runs on some large river systems remain (i.e., the Fraser and Skeena rivers), many smaller runs have all but disappeared. The life histories of many twentieth-century fisheries have been depressingly similar: initial coexistence with indigenous fisheries; emergence of large-scale industrial expansion followed by resource collapse; introduction of limited restrictions on fishing effort, which become increasingly severe, making it hard for fishing communities to survive and to reproduce themselves.

Yet for nearly two millennia prior to the industrial extraction of salmon, indigenous peoples maintained active harvests of salmon, which are estimated to have been at or near median industrial harvests during the twentieth century.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Menzies raised this point in the discussion part of his presentation today at UNBC.

It’s one of my favorite points, which I’ve used in many presentations over the years.

In simple terms…

…the level of pre-contact salmon fisheries is estimated to actually be higher than the average annual industrial harvest of salmon over the last century.

Wow, I think I felt the flinch in the room today from a few academics…

And then the excuses and questions and qualifiers start flying when some folks realize that the pedestal that academic keeps trying to stand on is jussssst a little bit shaky.

Maybe not even shaky… it’s simply an imagined pedestal.

Just picture the classic Wiley Coyote running off the cliff chasing Road Runner then realizing there’s nothing under him…

Menzies and Butler conclude their paper on selective harvesting:

Scant attention has been paid to traditional fishing techniques and technologies and the ways in which they might contribute to sustainable harvesting and species conservation, and indeed, provide an alternative to current practices.

Traditional knowledge of salmon production may be of significant value in the current search for successful selective fishing techniques for the British Columbian salmon fisheries.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

See that anywhere in DFO’s plans…?

The image at the beginning of this post is from a British newspaper story:

Google Earth reveals fish trap made from rocks 1,000 years ago off British coast

For a millennium it has lain undisturbed beneath the waves a stone’s throw from one of Britain’s best-loved beaches.

But now modern technology has revealed this ancient fish trap, used at the time of the Norman Conquest.

Stretching more than 280 yards along the sea bed, the V-shaped structure was used to catch fish without the need for a boat or rod. Scientists believe it is one of the biggest of its kind. [Menzies might argue this as he's found kilometres of these along the northwest BC coast]

The trap close to Poppit Sands on the Teifi Estuary in Dyfed was discovered by archaeologists studying aerial photographs of the West Wales coast. [love that term "discovered"]

It was designed to act like a rock pool, trapping fish behind its stone walls as the tide flowed out.

At its point is a gap where fisherman would have placed nets to catch fish. They could also have blocked up the gap, and then scooped up fish trapped in the shallows.

ancient British fish trap

What a concept… so my ancestors in Wales and other areas were using similar selective fishing community-based technology… hmmm.

Pop this into the old search engine ‘ancient rock fish traps’ and you will find examples from around the world: the Arctic, Australia, Hawaii, Indonesia, Mediterranean, and so on…

What a concept, local knowledge being put to use to ‘manage’ a local resource. (and ensuring that resource survives for many human generations…)

I think they call that ‘rocket science’… or is it ‘not’…

science that is… it’s just knowledge… and… ummmm… COMMON SENSE.