Tag Archives: Wild Salmon Policy

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.

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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...?]

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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…

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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.

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…


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”…

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.

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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:


Fitting close to the press release:

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


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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….


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…

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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…)


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.

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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.

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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..."]


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

New name at DFO: "Department of Fisheries and Profits"

A new name has yet again been adopted by the ‘Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ in Canada.

It will now be called the: “Department of Fisheries and Profits”. 

Cutely referred to in Ottawa (about as far from Canada’s fishing industries as one can get) as DFP.

new name...

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The image above is from a recently released ‘discussion paper’. From what Google suggests, this document was posted in mid-January 2012, quite quietly apparently. Some groups, such as First Nations in BC just had it sent to them in the last few days.

The deadline for comment on this paper — which doesn’t actually really have anything of substance to “comment” on is Feb. 29th (less than a week from now).

As PM Harper likes to say… this is an “aspirational” document.

With next to no substance. In other words… salmonguy words… this is a bunch of fluff, bumpf and BS.

It’s also a schizophrenic document that contradicts itself at several points — however, the one thing that it makes abundantly clear: Canada’s fish populations are for economic prosperity first.

The sustainability section comes up on page 18 of 28… just after the “Prosperity” section.

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One of the odd things about this “aspirational” document, is that it comes out while Justice Cohen is still buried in his (and his team’s) work in producing a report on the $20+ million Cohen Commission into Fraser River sockeye declines.

This is the same Commission that essentially forced DFO to shut down in the Pacific Region and dedicate itself to defending and justifying itself and it’s actions since the last five or so Fraser River sockeye commissions, reviews and so on….

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Let’s take a quick tour inside of DFP’s latest: “aspirational document”:

Isn’t this just the cutest thing…?

so cute...

Rather than using the old business term “bottom line”, the clever writers and designers of this fancy document used “the top line” — so many double meanings & entendres…

They’re so cute there at DFO (like Harper and his scratching the $10 million panda bear in China).

But let’s get right to it.

This comes early in the document… and here we have it as highlighted above:

…create a business environment conducive to economic prosperity

So let’s not shy away here. Let’s just get right to it.

Canada’s Department of Fisheries & that Other stuff. (DFO) is very much now about ‘maximizing profits‘, ‘economic prosperity‘ and ‘good business environments’.

Good thing.

Especially when Canada is also ranked 125th out of 127 Nations in fisheries conservation — as reported in a recent Royal Society of Canada report.

(see: Canada is pathetically ranked 125th of 127 countries in fisheries conservation… )

And not to mention those other pesky fisheries stats from around the world (let’s just say they aren’t really a positive, feel-good type thing):

Oceans’ Fish Could Disappear by 2050: Without fundamental restructuring of the fishing industry, our oceans could essentially become barren deserts.


  • Fishless oceans could be a very real possibility by 2050.

  • According to the UN, 30 percent of fish stocks have already collapsed.

  • One billion people, mostly from poorer countries, rely on fish as their main animal protein source.”

“If the various estimates we have received… come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish,” Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program’s green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.

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So, yeah… let’s get Canada’s fisheries harvesters: “to self-adjust”, as suggested in image quote above:

what does "self adjust" mean?

Ummm, DFO… errrr… DFP… what exactly does “self adjust” mean?

Does that mean when estimates suggest population is down, then fishers should stop harvesting?

Or… does it mean, if market says: “we need more fish!” that we just keep harvesting?

Which takes priority — resource fluctuations, or market demands?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Curiously, the online free dictionary offers this definition:

Self-adjusting: Capable of assuming a desired position or condition with relation to other parts, under varying circumstances, without requiring to be adjusted by hand.


Now this definition refers to machines and such, but it’s decent one to run with here — since DFO provides no definition of what this actually means.

If you’ve read older posts on this site, or simply look up the etymology of “manage” or “management” it comes from Latin “manus” which means hand, and maneggiare “to handle,” especially in relation to horses.

(or… I suppose, in this case, fish harvesters…)

So, management, has to do with handling others (such as horses, or people fishing, or through other regulations). Or… should we also be thinking about the good old Adam Smiths’:  “invisible hand of the market” — which refers to ‘self regulation’…

As some online definitions suggest:  Smith’s invisible hand refers to an “important claim that by trying to maximize their own gains in a free market, individual ambition benefits society, even if the ambitious have no benevolent intentions.”

Hmmm. Sounds like the history of fish harvesting on the planet.

I don’t think people fishing for a living, or simply fishing for food for their family have “no benevolent intentions”… many may actually be very conservation-minded (I know several). However, it’s simply a numbers game. We have taken far, far, far too many fish over the last century and more, and in the meantime nuked fish habitat.

See along with dancing Adam Smith and his invisible hand is dour Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons.”

Doesn’t “self regulation” and “tragedy of the commons” kind of go hand-in-hand… you know… like do-si-do (prounounced doe-see-doe) your partner in square dancing…?

Nothing like: ‘Self-regulating your own tragedy

…which we will all have in common,

as will our grandkids….

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Bottom line on the “top line” folks, when it comes to the future of Canada’s fisheries:

Prosperity... folks... prosperity

This is page 14 (of 28) so right in the middle of the document.

But read carefully: essentially, and I paraphrase. There are “restrictive licensing rules” and economic prosperity is limited…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Similar to this thought, comes from Page 7 of the document:

"management needs to change"


You know, I couldn’t agree more with the “patchwork manner”.

The 'mystical', mystery, "Wild Salmon Policy"

I’ve shared this image far-and-wide.

I was involved in early consultations on DFO’s… errrr… DFP’s “Wild Salmon Policy” in the late 1990s when it first started as an “aspirational” document.

And… well… we’re still “aspiring”…




_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
And so continuing on…

The document above suggests:

“decision are often made ad hoc instead of in a structured, strategic way…”

and, apparently: we’re having trouble “maximizing economic benefits” for the fishing industry.

Hmmm. I don’t imagine overfishing and mis-guided policy drivers such as “maximum sustainable yield” over the last century have anything to do with our fisheries issues these days…?


Here it is… don’t worry… I found it at the back of the document:

"Sustainability" the biggest, mean nothing word of the new millenium...


… DFP (formerly DFO) is going to be “supporting sustainable fisheries”…

It’s just on page 18 after the section on “PROSPERITY”…

You know… prosperity now… sustainability later…

Here are the words of wisdom on: “Sustainability”:


"Sustainability"... the great fluff word of the 21st century


Look it says it, right up there…

sustainability is a top priority“… there’s great things like “precautionary approach” and “ecosystem mangement”…

(All of which simply exist to maximize those “threatened POTENTIAL economic gains”…)

only problem… just like the document says… “DFO has developed and begun implementing”…

If we’re just beginning, only just “begun”… then we might have a problem…

However, no worries mate, we now have “established a solid foundation for sustainable harvesting moving forward”…


didn’t you just state earlier in the document that “fisheries management needs to change”…?

That fisheries decisions are made ad hoc, non-strategically, and non-structured…?

That the industry is inhibited?

That profit is not maximized?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

So who was responsible for that?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _





Oh wait… the same ministry that wrote this document…



How is it that Canadians, and the international community (of which Canada is signatory to agreements), are supposed to trust a Ministry that blatantly contradicts itself in its own “aspirational” documents?

This is rather ludicrous…

The document contradicts itself, this ministry continues to contradict itself.

This federal Ministry is a:


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

It’s also completely SCHIZOPHRENIC (and no offense intended to those suffering from this mental illness).

This type of document describes things as if it wasn’t actually THIS Department of Fisheries and Oceans that is responsible for how things used to be done.


(DFO says: “no, not us”)


It was a different DEPARTMENT… it was THAT department over there…

(“them… yup… them over there”…)

(said as they point in the mirror)

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Last time I checked, many of the same people I dealt with in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans ten years ago… are still the same people in the organization… just that they’ve been promoted…

The simple, “stick around long enough, we’ll promote you” policies of government ministries (apologies to those senior gov. managers that do not succumb to the Peter Principle…)

_ _ _ _ _ _

OH… wait… just wait…

you can go comment on this ‘aspirational’ document at the DFO website.

Yes, you too, can participate in this shenanigan called “public consultation”…

They’ve helped you out, they ask you to comment on the following questions, and I quote directly from the site (and these are the only questions that are asked online — isn’t it great this whole digital public consultation thing… they’re so helpful…):

DFO would like your input on the current web of rules that governs how commercial fisheries are managed.   

Section #1 – Economic Prosperity

DFO would like your input on the current web of rules that governs how commercial fisheries are managed.  

  • Are there any rules you would consider obsolete given today’s economy and current management approaches?

Section #2 – Sustainable Fisheries

Canadian commercial fisheries have gained considerable experience in managing bycatch and discards over the years.

  • Does the proposed Policy Framework on Managing Bycatch and Discards provide adequate guidance on how to address bycatch and discards in Canadian fisheries?


[sorry, we just slipped that little "web of rules" comment in there... that's not misleading in the least... not even subliminal hints for one second...]

[cuz no one likes being caught in a "web of rules" do they?... this isn't leading the witness in the least... says the judge]

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

There’s little boxes for you to fill in… (so helpful).

Apparently, the sustainability of Canada’s fisheries only deal with “bycatch”…

Wow, please, someone recommend a gutting of this ministry.

You simply cannot be a “Department of Fisheries” and yet be responsible for conservation and preservation of actual fish populations.

It’s a contradiction in terms. Killing fish is not ‘conserving’ them, nor ‘preserving’ them.

Not that killing fish is bad, I like to eat them too, but I’d like me kids to be able to eat them too…

It’s just propaganda like this is fundamentally exhausting.

Still doubting that ‘marketing is everything and everything is marketing…’?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _


Canada is pathetically ranked 125th of 127 countries in fisheries conservation. If this was our hockey ranking, what would be the National response?

Why is this not a major headline in Canada’s newspapers today?

This is fundamentally embarrassing to all Canadians.

And an absolute embarrassment to the federal government: current governing regime and opposition parties alike.

We are but an island surrounded by three coastlines – east, west, and north. We celebrate our coastlines, our oceans, our marine environment, our fisheries, and so on. Canada has the world’s longest coastline and a total of 7.1 million square kilometres of ocean.

Yet, as the Royal Society presents in their report just released:

Sustaining Canada’s Marine Biodiversity: Responding to the Challenges Posed by Climate Change, Fisheries, and Aquaculture


  • …among industrialized fishing nations, the status of Canada’s marine fish stocks is among the worst in the world.


  • Researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities constructed an Environmental Performance Index and used it to rank 163 countries on 25 performance indicators, for environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. In this analysis, Canada was ranked 125th of 127 countries in terms of fisheries conservation.


[If we ranked this low in hockey, what would be the National response?]

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Here are the “MAIN MESSAGES —SUSTAINING CANADIAN MARINE BIODIVERSITY” available in PDF from the website link above.

  • Canada sees itself as a world leader in ocean management, but we have failed to meet most of our national and international commitments to protect marine biodiversity.


  • Canada lags behind other modernized nations in almost every aspect of fisheries management. Despite pledges on conservation and sound policies, Fisheries and Oceans has generally done a poor job of managing fish stocks, planning for whole ecosystems and protecting marine biodiversity.


  • The government should act to review and rewrite outdated statutes, take rapid action on national and international commitments, curtail the discretionary powers of the minister of Fisheries and Oceans and move to limit regulatory conflict in that department.


  • Canada needs national operational objectives to protect and restore natural diversity and to rebuild depleted populations and species. Improving and protecting ocean health will restore the natural resilience of Canada’s marine ecosystems to adapt in response to the challenges posed by climate change and other human activities.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Here are some ‘lowlights’ from the report:

After examining the evidence, we conclude Canada has made little substantive progress in meeting its commitments to sustain marine biodiversity. Although Canada has developed and signed on to sound policies and agreements, and heralded good ideas with strong rhetoric, comparatively little has actually been done, leaving many of our national and international obligations unfulfilled.

[hmmmm, does this sound like our/Canada's approach to climate change?]

That can — and must — be changed, starting with the Oceans Act. This 1996 law was a landmark in the move toward managing the oceans from an ecosystem perspective, after decades of focusing on one species or habitat at a time, without regard to the intricacies of biodiversity. Unlike the Fisheries Act, it provided a clearly articulated legislative foundation for marine conservation (an objective no one would even have considered in 1868, when the Fisheries Act was written). It was followed by the Species at Risk Act (2002), which included a commitment to develop legislation for the protection of threatened species.

But neither has lived up to its promise

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

In ecosystem-based management, decisions must take into account the sustainability of ecosystem components and attributes. In several jurisdictions, policies and regulations now use this more comprehensive viewpoint.

Effective ecosystem-based management usually involves the “precautionary approach”, which stresses that the absence of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing decisions where there is a chance of serious or irreversible harm. They also set “reference” targets to warn when stocks are getting low and include plans for promoting recovery if a population drops too far.

In contrast to other developed fishing countries, Canada has not adopted the use of reference points. For example, 20 years after the collapse of Newfoundland’s northern cod (once one of the largest fish stocks in the world,) there is still no recovery target, let alone a timeline for rebuilding.

We think that is unacceptable.

One consequence of this lack of initiative is that, among industrialized fishing nations, the status of Canada’s marine fish stocks is among the worst in the world.

In fact, compared to other major fishing nations such as Australia and New Zealand, Canada is moving very slowly on incorporating ecosystem indicators into scientific guidance. Our policies for conservation of wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon, for example, recognize the need for consideration of ecosystem-level.

But they have yet to be implemented.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Driving reform of the Fisheries Act will not be easy. There is no indication the health of the ocean is a great concern for the present government.

In the Speech From the Throne that opened Canada’s 41st Parliament on June 3, 2011, there was no reference to climate change, species recovery, fisheries rebuilding, or marine biodiversity. Neither the word ‘ocean’ nor ‘Arctic’ was mentioned in the throne speech.

The ‘sea’ was mentioned in the context of a government commitment to complete the Dempster Highway to connect Canada “by road from sea to sea to sea”. ‘Fishing’ was used only in the context of a government pledge to support it and other industries “as they innovate and grow”.

As well, the Fisheries Act delegates absolute discretion to the minister of Fisheries and Oceans [who in many cases couldn't tell the difference between a northern pike and a pink salmon] to make decisions, with no formalized scientific guidelines or environmental framework for them.

That leaves important biodiversity issues open to dictates of passing political concerns and is completely at odds with the best practices of fisheries legislation that supports sustainability, such as in the US, Norway, and Australia.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Further legislative measures that should be considered to adequately protect marine biodiversity include:

  • Ending the inherent conflict within DFO to promote industry and economic activity on one hand and the conservation of fish and aquatic ecosystems on the other;

[hmmm, anyone who has read posts on this blog has heard this point before -- if you have a federal Ministry with the word "Fisheries" in it... and its central mandate is "conservation"... then there is a problem]

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The preamble to the Oceans Act says Parliament wished “to reaffirm Canada’s role as a world leader in oceans and marine resources management.” This was a remarkable statement, given the Act was passed in 1996, a short four years after the collapse of the northern cod fishery.

That one example of resource mismanagement was not only the greatest numerical loss of a vertebrate in Canadian history, it resulted in the greatest single layoff in Canada when between 30-40,000 people lost their jobs. It also cost $2-3 billion in social and economic financial aid.

But rhetoric over substance too often characterizes the Government of Canada’s handling of its oceans and their marine biodiversity. In contrast to Canada’s self-proclaimed ocean leadership, analyses of Canada’s marine conservation and management initiatives are less than complimentary.

Researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities constructed an Environmental Performance Index and used it to rank 163 countries on 25 performance indicators, for environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. In this analysis, Canada was ranked 125th of 127 countries in terms of fisheries conservation.

Canada has consistently failed to meet targets and obligations to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainability. The government has the knowledge, expertise and even the policy and legislation it needs to correct that; but multiple factors have combined to slow the pace of statutory and policy implementation almost to a standstill.

Those factors, we believe, include the inherent conflict at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which has mandates both to promote industrial and economic activity and to conserve marine life and ocean health. The minister of Fisheries and Oceans has excessive discretionary power to dictate activities that should be directed by science and shaped by transparent social and political values.

Canada’s progress has been unduly slow in both an absolute sense (some commitments have still not been met almost two decades after they were agreed on) and comparatively — other western industrialized nations have made substantive progress in meeting, and often exceeding, their national and international commitments to sustain marine biodiversity.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Fundamentally embarrassing and disgraceful. Yet saying so with current governing regime will get one labelled a ‘renegade’ or ‘treasoner’ or whatever other empty rhetoric that the Reform Party, err wait, I mean the Conservative party has to offer.

Yet, this is not at the hands of one political party… everyone one of the four main Parties that have been active over the last couple of decades bears a responsibility.

It’s disgraceful.

Hopefully Justice Cohen is reading this and takes a good stab at the issue in this disgraceful situation being afflicted upon Fraser sockeye — and Pacific wild salmon in general on Canada’s left coast.

And media response to this report so far… about all I’ve see is the Vancouver Sun:

Canada’s failure to protect marine biodiversity ‘disappointing and dismaying,’ asserts panel chair

Canada is failing miserably at protecting its rich marine biodiversity from the looming threat of climate change, an expert-panel report for the Royal Society of Canada concluded Thursday.

“Canada has made little substantive progress in fulfilling national and international commitments to sustain marine biodiversity,” the panel report found.

The report noted that the Fisheries Act is beset with regulatory conflicts in terms of protecting and exploiting fish stocks, and the minister of fisheries and oceans wields too much discretionary power.

The report also says the Species at Risk Act has proven ineffective at protecting and recovering marine species at risk, and a promised national marine protected areas network “remains unfilled.”

The application of a “precautionary” management approach with harvest-control rules and recovery plans remains “absent for most fisheries,” the report added.

Panel chairman Jeff Hutchings, a biology professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said the federal government’s lack of action at protecting marine biodiversity is “extremely disappointing and dismaying,” a concern that also applies to management of high-profile Atlantic cod stocks.

“Anybody can see, and anybody can assuredly be bloody angry, that 20 years after the collapse of the northern cod fishery we don’t have a target for recovery,” he told a Vancouver news conference. “How is that possibly consistent with responsible management of our oceans?”

Canada has the world’s longest coastline and a total of 7.1 million square kilometres of ocean — in the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic — amounting to a global stewardship responsibility, the report found.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Are we going to stand for this?

Hello… anyone?

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

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

Does this make any sense?

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


Through largely marine-based, mixed stock fisheries.

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

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

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

_ _ _ _ _

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody can say…

Maybe half what it used to be, or less?

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

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

It’s not a mystery, really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To “manage”:

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

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

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ _ _ _ _

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_ _ _ _ _ _

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

_ _ _ _ _ _

And, I suppose the answer is: BOTH.

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

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

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

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

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

Mixed stock fisheries are inherently not good for the resource.

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

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

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

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

_ _ _ _ _ _

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

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

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

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

Yes… again… “trade-offs”…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

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

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

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

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

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

_ _ _ _ _ _

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

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

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

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

it's about the wording, folks


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

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

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

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

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

_ _ _ _ _ _

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

bureaucratese bumpf


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

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

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

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

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

Or… or… have we reached a turning point?

… a tipping point?

..a change in the winds?


And the pressure builds… “silences and lies” and DFO and the feds…

Thanks to some other folks that are hilighting these articles. The mainstream media seems to be on to this bandwagon now…

New York Times article:

Norwegians Concede a Role in Chilean Salmon Virus

By   Published: July 27, 2011

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — A virus that has killed millions of salmon in Chile and ravaged the fish farming industry there was probably brought over from Norway, a major salmon producer has acknowledged.

Cermaq, a state-controlled Norwegian aquaculture company that has become one of the principal exporters of salmon from Chile, has endorsed a scientific study concluding that salmon eggs shipped from Norway to Chile are the “likely reason” for the outbreak of the virus in 2007, according to Lise Bergan, a company spokeswoman.

But, she argued, “the report didn’t pinpoint any company” as the culprit. [gee, thank goodness for that...]

The virus, infectious salmon anaemia, or I.S.A., was first reported at a Chilean salmon farm owned by Marine Harvest, another Norwegian company [which also has a large amount of operations on the B.C. coast].

It quickly spread through southern Chile, wracking a fishing business that had become one of the country’s biggest exporters during the past 15 years. The Chilean industry, whose major clients include the United States and Brazil, suffered more than $2 billion in losses, saw its production of Atlantic salmon fall by half and had to lay off 26,000 workers.

The outbreak in Chile also revealed structural problems within the industry, including overcrowding in pens that environmentalists say probably helped speed the spread of the virus. Since then, the industry and the Chilean government have instituted a wide range of reforms to try to contain outbreaks, but despite extensive efforts to rein it in the virus continues to spread.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Victoria Times Colonist

Muzzling scientists wrong

Taxpayers paid for Kristi Miller’s important research on why West Coast salmon stocks have been crashing.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, for which she works, wanted the information made public.

There is great public concern about the future of salmon.

And when Science, a leading research journal, published the findings in January, it notified 7,400 journalists worldwide and advised them how to seek interviews with Miller, who leads a $6-million salmon-genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo.

Then the Privy Council Office in Ottawa – the top bureaucrats – stepped in and muzzled Miller, Postmedia News reported this week. She was ordered not to talk to journalists or speak publicly about her team’s research.

Those in control in Ottawa also ordered the Fisheries Department not to issue a news release about the study, saying that it “was not very good, focused on salmon dying and not on the new science aspect.” (The research identified a genetic marker associated with increased death rates for Fraser sockeye and “raises the possibility” that a viral infection might be to blame.)

The gag order remains in effect more than six months later.

_ _ _ _ _ _

From UPI.com:

Canada said to be silencing scientists

OTTAWA, July 27 (UPI) — A leading fisheries scientist studying why salmon stocks have been crashing off Canada’s West Coast has been muzzled by a government department, documents show.

The documents show the Privy Council Office, which supports the prime minister’s office, stopped Kristi Miller, who heads a $6 million salmon genetics project at the federal Pacific Biological Station on Vancouver Island, from talking about her work published in the research journal Science, Postmedia News reported.

The journal notified journalists worldwide and encouraged Miller to “please feel free to speak with journalists.”

Documents obtained by Postmedia News under the Access to Information Act show major media outlets were making arrangements to speak with Miller but the Privy Council Office said no to the interviews.

The office also blocked a Fisheries Department news release about Miller’s study, saying the release “was not very good, focused on salmon dying and not on the new science aspect,” the documents show.

The Harper government has been reining in federal scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers and is often of significant public interest, Postmedia said.

Researchers are now required to submit to a process that includes “media lines” approved by communications officers, strategists and ministerial staff in Ottawa, Postmedia said.

The government’s control over communication is “really poisoning the science environment within government,” said Jeffrey Hutchings, a senior fisheries scientist at Halifax’s Dalhousie University.

“When the lead author of a paper in Science is not permitted to speak about her work, that is suppression,” he said. “There is simply no ifs, ands or buts about that.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Don’t think this story sounds familiar… go back and read the various accounts of the collapse of North Atlantic Cod. Here’s a decent little summary I found online, from the peer reviewed Canadian Journal of Communication.

Silences and Lies: How the Industrial Fishery Constrained Voices of Ecological Conservation

by Carol Corbin — Vol 27, No 1 (2002)

…As the fishery industrialized over the course of the twentieth century, those who worked in the industry became increasingly segregated. Distinct discursive realms emerged, among them “fishers’ vernacular,” “scientific language,” “product talk,” and DFO’s “official word.”

There was little dialogue between the groups and little collective opposition to the overfishing. DFO’s “official word” claimed that the stocks were strong despite protestation to the contrary from several fishers’ groups and DFO’s own scientists.

The outcome for the region was economically and ecologically devastating.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

However, I suppose we should listen to the “official word” from the technocrats within some of these institutions that suggest all is good in the hood…

Upper upper Fraser River sockeye: Recipes for Extinction 2011


Sockeye salmon in spawning channel, Nadina River Spawning Channel, Houston, British Columbia

This is a continuation of the last post — outlining the current Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Pacific Salmon Commission cookbook recipes for decimating troubled Fraser River sockeye stocks.

At the moment there is a $20 million (or so) judicial inquiry investigating the 2009 shockingly low returns of Fraser River sockeye.

One may not need to look too much further then the current cookbook approach to “managing” troubled sockeye stocks from the upper Fraser River.

These stocks are being “managed”/cooked into oblivion.

One might suggest it’s akin to throwing fish and steak on the same bar-b-q at the same heat and cooking the fish the same way as the steaks. The result…?

hockey puck fish… not much good to anything or anyone.

If the current DFO method of “managing” Fraser sockeye, specifically upper Fraser sockeye is not a Recipe for Extinction… then someone let me know what it is…

_ _ _ _ _ _

The last post…

…explained how the Bowron River and Nadina River sockeye that spawn in the eastern and western reaches of the upper Fraser River face dismal pre-season forecasts for 2011.

These two runs are grouped into the “Early Summers” which include several stocks from all across the Fraser watershed that all migrate into the river at approximately the same time. These sockeye stocks have been ‘grouped’ for “management” purposes.

(e.g. it is easier to devise ‘fishing plans’ on an aggregate of stocks that migrate into the river at similar times… as opposed to carefully trying to protect smaller, endangered runs).

Some of the other Fraser sockeye stocks that co-migrate with the Bowron and Nadina stocks are larger, healthier stocks that have relatively decent productivity in recent years and decent pre-season forecasts.

As a result, the aggregate total of all the runs combined means some limited fishing may occur on the Early Summers — however this means that the potential total allowable mortality predicted and permitted for the Early Summers in potential fishing plans could potentially wipe out an entire troubled sockeye run like the Bowron or Nadina or both.

_ _ _ _ _ _

Late Stuarts and Stellak0 — Summer grouping

There is a similar story for the Late Stuarts and Stellako sockeye runs.


upper Fraser sockeye -- Summer group

These two stocks of Fraser sockeye are grouped into the “Summers” — an aggregate based on run-timing a bit later into the Summer (hence the name).

DFO Fraser sockeye pre-season forecast -- Summer group focus


There is a very concerning picture here.

Let’s look at the 50% probability pre-season forecast for the Summer stocks:

Fraser sockeye forecast -- Summers - 50p prediction

Summers -- 50p forecast


This shows a total run size forecast for the four “Summer” stocks — all grouped together — of a little over 1.4 million sockeye.

The Chilko run (west of Williams Lake) is looking pretty decent with some green boxes in productivity and a run that appears to be within range of average (“mean”) run sizes.

The 50% probability suggests a run size of a little over 1.1 million, comprising almost 80% of the total “Summer” group returns.

The other Summer stocks…?

not looking so good!

The Late Stuart is showing a 50p pre-season forecast of only 41,000.

This is well below the mean run size on all cycles of well over 500,000.

And even on this cycle year, a mean run size of over 80,000.

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Similarly for Stellako.

A 50p pre-season forecast on this stock of only 79,000.

The mean run size on all years is over 460,000.

Worse yet, 2011 should be an up year with a cycle average of just under 600,000!

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Things don’t look good on these stocks…


…even if they were left entirely alone and no one went fishing.

However, DFO and the Pacific Salmon Commissionin their great wisdom — are proposing fisheries on the Summer aggregate/group that will allow up to 57% mortality on the overall group run size.

At the 50p forecast of 1.4 million fish — this equates to a potential catch of well over 800,000 Summer-run sockeye.

Yeah… that’s right… 800,000 sockeye are proposed to be caught as part of pre-season fishing plans.

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Let’s take another look for a second at those numbers….

The total run size forecast for the Summer-grouping of Fraser sockeye at the 50% probability level is: 1,414,000.

Pre-season planning by DFO and the Pacific Salmon Commission is suggesting a target of 57% exploitation, which equates to over 800,000 Fraser Summer sockeye dead.

That means that — theoretically — both the Stellako and Late Stuart runs could have the entire runs captured in fisheries — as they only comprise together less than 10% of the total Summer grouping run size.

Their total run size is 120,000.

(remember this isn’t what is predicted to reach spawning grounds — this is just predictions for reaching the mouth of the Fraser).

With a predicted fishery exploitation of 800,000 — doesn’t seem all that difficult to consider that fisheries might catch every last Late Stuart and Stellako sockeye, or 120,000 sockeye.

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Quesnel River stocks — Summer group

Not only that — factor in the one other “Summer” group stock — the runs that return to the Quesnel River (e.g. the famed Horsefly and Quesnel Lakes runs). The 50p forecast on these is only 153,000 (just over 10% of total Summer-run size)

And thus the potential fishery exploitation rate of 57% of the Summer group — over 800,000 fish — could potentially eradicate three of the four Summer stocks.

(these three runs comprise only about 20% of the total Summer group)

(And it must be remembered, as well, the “management adjustment” — or death en route to the spawning grounds — such as hot water, drought, disease, and so on, is not even factored in here… these fish face a gauntlet of threats trying to reach spawning grounds — let alone avoiding fisheries that are targeting a 60% exploitation rate)

How is this not a recipe for extinction?

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This is the absolute absurdity of mixed-stock fisheries…

…DFO’s aggregate management (groups of stocks based simply on run-timing — not health of the stocks or geographic distribution), and a “salmon management system” that is based on limited information and fisheries-first — not conservation goals.

Worse yet… ask DFO if they have “escapement objectives” for runs like Stellako, Late Stuarts, Nadina, etc. — this means how many spawners do they guess they have to get onto the spawning grounds for each sockeye stock, just to meet conservation objectives (e.g. survival of the individual runs)?

They don’t know.

The escapement objectives for Fraser sockeye are also done by the aggregate groupings — e.g. Early Summers, Summers, etc. — so if particular runs like the Stellako and Late Stuarts disappear… it doesn’t really matter if other stocks within the groupings remain somewhat healthy.

Worse yet, DFO and the Pacific Salmon Commission only have enough information to track 19 individual Fraser sockeye stocks.

Estimates suggest there might have once been over 200 individual Fraser sockeye stocks, utilizing over 150 different spawning areas. (Other estimates suggest that total run sizes once reached numbers of over 160 million Fraser sockeye on a yearly basis…).

How is this current system not a recipe for extinction?

This cookbook has already cooked, baked, poached, decimated… call it what you want… numerous small, distinct Fraser sockeye stocks.

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(Cohen Commission… hope you’re reading this… and looking into this vital issue… if this Recipe for Fraser Sockeye extinction does not come out in final reports… it’s largely a wasted $20 million — and we can all start writing the eulogy for upper, upper Fraser sockeye).

upper Fraser River sockeye 2011: DFO Recipe for Extinction

adapted from Cohen Commission tech report #2

It might be with some irony that today the Cohen Commission into declines of Fraser River sockeye is conducting hearings into fisheries Monitoring and Enforcement. There is probably little question that better Monitoring and Enforcement could assist Fraser sockeye stocks; however, on a cost-benefit analysis between ‘good management‘ vs. ‘monitoring, enforcement, & compliance‘ would there really be much comparison…?

Let’s look at this coming year’s sockeye forecasting and pre-season planning (2011): As the Recipe for Upper Fraser Sockeye extinction is plain as day

Below is a rather complex chart produced by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that documents the “recent productivity” of 19 (of the over 150) distinct Fraser sockeye stocks.

The 19 sockeye stocks in which DFO actually has enough information to utilize are further grouped into four run-timing groups (Early Stuart, Early Summer, Summer, and Late Summer).

These can be seen down the far left hand side — Column A. (I will break this chart down further with specific focus on some key numbers and columns).


DFO 2011 "Recent Productivity" Fraser Sockeye Forecast

First off, the Early Stuarts, one of the furthest upstream migrating Fraser sockeye — Northwest of Prince George in the upper Nechako drainage (Stuart River is main tributary — see map above), is in deep trouble.

In essence, what column “I” suggests is that the historical ‘mean run size’ for the Early Stuarts — based on all cycles — is 311,000.

On the 2011 cycle (Fraser sockeye predominantly run in four-year cycles) the mean run size is 172,000.

Columns “K” to “O” give the ‘probability’ of various forecasts.

Column K is the “10p” forecast suggesting that there is a 10% chance (or 1 in 10 chance) that runs will be at or below this number — for Early Stuarts that’s 6,000.

The standard generally used in pre-season forecasting is the 50p or 50% probability forecast which for Early Stuarts is 17,000 (column “M”).

So the Early Stuart median for all cycles is 311,000 — for the 2011 cycle-year it is 172,000 — however for this year the 50% probability pre-season forecast for 2011 predicts a run size of only: 17,000.

Even the best-case scenario (90p — 90%) predicts a run-size of only: 42,000.

(Note: Last year 2010 — the apparent big record year — the Early Stuarts met the 90p pre-season forecast and had an estimated return of 100,000).

However, raise any questions on the Early Stuart sockeye and DFO will say “but we’ve been in conservation mode on these fish for decades”. Yet, even just as far back as 1997 — the total run size of the Early Stuarts was estimated at almost: 1.7 million sockeye.

And yet that year the estimated catch was over 770,000.

Worse yet, an en-route loss is estimated at over 630,000.

Only an estimated 260,000 reached the spawning grounds. A mere 15% of the total run.

And then this year the best case scenario suggests only 42,000 as a total run size, not even what might reach the spawning grounds — some 1000+ km upstream…

Hmmm. wonder why we there’s a problem…?

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Estimated Returns and Historical Productivity

So, yes, the Early Stuarts have been in trouble for quite some time — however, it seems like this is akin to a flu-bug in the upper watershed. Trouble for upper Fraser sockeye seems to be contagious..

In the “Early Summer” grouping there are two sockeye stocks with enough information for “management” purposes — the Bowron (returns to Bowron River east of Prince George, and northeast of Quesnel) and the Nadina (returns to upper Nechako River, west of Prince George and southwest of Fraser Lake).

Here are the numbers blown up from the above chart:

2011 Fraser sockeye forecast: Bowron and Nadina River runs.

This half of the chart shows the estimated Effective Female Spawners (EFS) in columns “C” and “D”.

The “BY” stands for Brood Year. Therefore, 2007 is the Brood Year (BY) for the majority of returns this year: 2011 — as sockeye largely have a four-year life cycle. However, some years and some runs have more five-year old sockeye return as well. Often this is in the range of approximately 20-30% of the total run. And thus column “D” is the estimated Effective Female Spawners of 2006.

And so in 2007, the estimate suggests there were 1,100 Effective Female Spawners (EFS) and in 2006 there were 600 for the Bowron.

For the Nadina there were an estimated 1,000 Effective Female Spawners in 2007 (the main brood year for this year’s 2011 returns) and 4,500 EFS in 2006.

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The next columns — “E” and “F” are estimates of the productivity of each Effective Female Spawner over an 8-year time period (column E) and 4-year time period (column F).

For a population of any critter each female (effective female spawner) must average a productivity of 2 progeny that live to become reproductive adults — ideally an average of one male and one female — just to maintain any population with no growth or depletion.

The Bowron has an estimated productivity of 2.4 (over 8 years) and 2.1 (over 4 years) returning adults for each female spawner (the numbers in red boxes — red meaning bad/stop ).

estimated productivity of Bowron sockeye stocks

This means that the Bowron stock of Fraser sockeye is barely replacing itself at current productivity.

The Nadina is faring a little better with estimated productivity over 8 years of 3.0 (in the red box) and over 4 years of 4.6 returning adults per effective female spawner (in the yellow box – meaning, caution).

estimated productivity of Nadina sockeye

Sockeye salmon enhancement facility, Nadina River, British Columbia


(It should be noted that the Nadina sockeye largely utilize man-made spawning channels… and they are still in trouble…).







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The next set of numbers further along the right on the chart are rather revealing as well, here’s a clip with columns C-H taken out:


Fraser sockeye forecast_2011 Estimated probabilities for Bowron & Nadina stocks

Columns “I” and “J” are showing average “mean” runs sizes for these various runs as an overall average of all years previous — “all cycles” column “I” and the four-year cycle that includes 2011 column “J”.

For the two runs of concern — Bowron and Nadina — one can quickly see that the difference between the average run sizes and the various probabilities of run sizes this year — there’s a big discrepancy.

(And it must be pointed out that this is estimates of Total Run Size returning to the Fraser which may be targeted for fisheries — not the total run size that is predicted to reach, or reached, the spawning grounds.)

As mentioned earlier the 50p or 50% probability forecast is the one most commonly used during pre-season forecasts. For the Bowron that’s 5,000 estimated as a total run size (as compared to a mean average of all years of 39,000) and for the Nadina 12,000 (as compared to a mean run size of 80,000). (Remember, total run size predicted, not what’s estimated to reach the spawning grounds).

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Recipe for Extinction

The Bowron and Nadina River adult sockeye stocks migrate into the Fraser River approximately the same time as several other stocks that migrate to different parts of the Fraser River. The other stocks are listed in the chart above — names like Fennell, Gates, Pitt, Raft, etc. These stocks are spread from the upper, upper Fraser through the upper Thompson River, right down to the lower Fraser with the Pitt.

All, most likely, quite genetically distinct from each other — however, simply grouped because of run-timing. These are called the Early Summers for exactly that reason. Convenient for fishing plans… maybe not so convenient for conserving genetic diversity of stocks… or even conserving stocks themselves…

If you look through the various other runs within the Early Summers grouping, a few are looking relatively healthy, with 50% forecasts suggesting run sizes a little larger then the mean averages. There is even some green in the productivity and EFS boxes.

Total 50% probability pre-season forecast for all Early Summers is 453,000. With a few healthy runs… this means potential fisheries targeting this Group.

At the present time apparently DFO and Pacific Salmon Commission is considering fishing plans that would target a 40% exploitation rate on these Early Summers — which suggests that close to 200,000 of these Early Summers could potentially be targeted in fisheries.

For the Bowron and Nadina sockeye runs, this could mean total disaster.

There are only a total of 17,000 total fish at the 50% probability pre-season forecast for both these runs combined — and this is just fish forecast to reach the Fraser River, not the actual number forecast to reach the spawning grounds, which for these two runs is over 1000 km up the Fraser River.

These 17,000 potential fish could easily be swallowed in fisheries targeting other healthier Early Summer stocks.

Or, let’s say even conservatively that these targeted fisheries only catch half of the Bowron and Nadina returning runs — 8500. Conservative estimates suggest that 40% or more of these fish will die en route or prior to spawning. If that occurred there would still be 90% of the total run wiped out.

This is all considering fish on paper… which is the problem here.

The Recipe of Extinction for upper Fraser sockeye stocks is: mixed stock fisheries based on fisheries management plans that manage to the Aggregate Groups (only four) and do not discern between endangered individual, genetically distinct runs — such as the Bowron and Nadina stocks.

(let alone the 130 or so unnamed Fraser sockeye stocks that don’t have enough information to be considered by DFO or the Pacific Salmon Commission).


We consider the Late Stuarts and Stellako, two more Upper, Upper Fraser River sockeye runs that face a worse scenario as part of the Summers group of Fraser sockeye.

They are the Recipe for Extinction — Chapter 3.