Discussion in 'Conservation, Fishery Politics and Management.' started by Derby, Jan 13, 2018.
Worth the read for the changes in DFO's IFMP for 2018.
My Hurting Head
The next step in our Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s oppressive process leading us into the 2018 fisheries arrived a couple of days ago. Its called the PRELIMINARY 2018 SALMON OUTLOOK. Here we have 28 pages worth of forecasts about various stocks and species up and down the coast of British Columbia. Those forecasts are blanketed with indecisiveness and replete with qualifiers and disclaimers. Why wouldn’t they be, they’re rarely accurate? Here’s an example of what I mean by disclaimers:
“Final stock-specific fishing plans described in the annual Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMP) may be different from the generic scenarios described here. Stock-specific plans are informed by available science and management information, the specific nature of fisheries on a given stock, allocation policy, consultation input and other considerations. Actual fishing opportunities are subject to in-season information and are announced in-season via fishery notice or other official communications from DFO.”
One wonders why all the effort to assemble and distribute such Preliminary Outlooks when they clearly have no bearing on what happens in-season. Alas, the justification for continuing this preliminary outlook process that has now been with us for 16 years is to allow all those stakeholders out there to plan their seasons.
Lets take a bit deeper look at this. I’ll start with an interesting illustration of salmon landings by the commercial fisheries in BC over the past 60 years. This showed up in a recent message from Ecotrust citing data compiled from DFO’s own catch statistics (1951-2012) and Statistics Canada (prior to 1950 when there was no species breakdown available). The figures are in thousands of tonnes and represent landings by all gear types over the period of record. Of course, what we can’t determine from this illustration is the proportion of the total available supply of the various species that was caught in any given year. One can surmise, however, that the catch data is a reasonable reflection of abundance. From what appears to be a relatively stable catch from the earliest records through until the early 1990s, things have changed dramatically. Note the dominance of pink and chum salmon in recent times, the lowest value species by far. If the landed value of the catch was included here, it would demonstrate further just how far down the path to oblivion the commercial fishing industry has gone. I can’t help but notice the similarity between the period of steep decline in salmon landings and the period during which DFO’s golden age of process has flourished. Perhaps a bit too much of the budget dedicated to the boardrooms and not enough to the field?
Now, let’s see if we can connect some dots between preliminary outlooks and those IFMPs yet to come. After all, this is about planning. Forgive me for talking steelhead here but that would seem to be a species of concern, especially given all the effort that has been focused on DFO lately to address the critical conservation concern over Interior Fraser Steelhead.
So, what do we have in that 28 pager from DFO? First, the word steelhead never appears. Second, the forecasts for the stocks and species of greatest concern in terms of collateral damage to steelhead are uniformly bad. I’m talking about Skeena and Fraser chinook and sockeye. The collateral damage stems from restrictions on commercial and First Nations fisheries targeting traditionally preferred sockeye and chinook in both the Skeena and the Fraser. Commercial fishermen are easy targets. Not so FN fishers. Under similar circumstances over the past two years DFO has deliberately opened fisheries that sanction (encourage!) FNs to target fish whose run timing overlaps steelhead in a worst case scenario. Glaring examples included the 2017 late season sockeye fisheries in the Skeena approaches closed to commercial fishermen and in the Skeena River itself. DFO also encouraged Skeena FNs to target coho in replacement for sockeye and chinook. Coho and steelhead overlap on the Skeena much as chum and steelhead do on the Fraser. On the Fraser it was even worse in that those IFS teetering on the brink of extirpation were subjected to intensive FN fishing for chum roe throughout their entire migration run timing window. None of those FN fisheries are the subject of any pre-season planning by anyone the least bit familiar with steelhead. That can only be taken as wilful blindness, incompetence or both on the part of those whom we pay to manage our fisheries.
Knowing what we do about the status of steelhead up and down the coast last year and very likely for the coming season, what “planning” is going into measures to address low abundance? DFO has invited an army of stakeholders to its various forums and tables to talk plans. Just what do any of the participants suggest? Has anyone ever heard a guide, ocean or freshwater, suggest softening his/her footprint in light of expected abundances? Over the many years, I’ve witnessed uncounted attempts by steelhead guides to obtain more rod days and discourage competition while everyone else guts it out in efforts to sustain the supply of fish those freshwater commercial fishermen take a living from. Should guided rod days be adjusted according to the fish supply of fish available? Is that unreasonable? What say you Province? Oops, I forgot, the Province doesn’t partake of these management planning processes.
The entire steelhead advocacy community in BC is strongly behind outright angling closures in all times and places where IFS are expected to be present in 2018. The Council on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is expected to release the results of it emergency review of the IFS situation imminently. It is hard to imagine that review will not recommend listing IFS as endangered under Species At Risk Act provisions. Numerous letters have been written by a broad spectrum of conservation interests in BC demanding DFO take significant measures to address IFS conservation. All this and nary a mention of the word steelhead in that Preliminary Outlook document, the supposed basis for the IFMP processes to follow. I humbly suggest the planning system is sorely in need of a major overhaul. I’ll also suggest (again) the Province needs a serious wake up call.
Down here in WA the Salmon return forecasts include counts of jack Salmon at dams on the Columbia & ocean trawls for plankton species & juvenile Salmon; dunno to what extent DFO goes to to conduct similar research. In the end, it would appear that our forecasts down here got it really wrong last year. IMO I don't think we have an idea what all the variables in the Salmon abundance forecasting equation are. My motto about fishing is that everything matters, some things matter more, & what maters more is subject to frequent & largely unpredictable change. OBD, being a true climate change denier & the flawed logic in your signature, I think that your expectations on the capabilities of science in general are unrealistic. This is not intended as a personal attack as this trait is not uncommon nor an indication of lack of intelligence.
FYI i like the bar chart & realize that declining commercial Chinook catches COULD have much to do with regulations changes from the Pacific Salmon Treaty. In conclusion the data in the bar graph seems much more incomplete that the PRELIMINARY 2018 SALMON OUTLOOK
Eric, not cool buddy. Everyone has the right to an opinion on the "theory" of climate change & the effect man has on it.
Thanks for highlighting the difference between a "belief" and "scientific consensus", ILHG. We can all own our own "beliefs" - but that shouldn't translate into rejecting the scientific consensus - unfortunately some people confuse the 2. Some PR firms paid by those who wish the status quo for their clients to remain unchanged - want us to confuse the 2...
Last time I checked this is a sport fishing forum & a thread on Salmon abundance predictions. I have no problem with OBD expressing opinions that are "on-ssubject" & not blatant lies, but the stuff in his signature has no business on this site (IMO of course). All it does is encourage hate & discontent, & trying to equate weather forecasts made by meteorologists with actual measured climate data is insulting to my intelligence.
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