SRKW and their prey, be very concerned!

Discussion in 'Conservation, Fishery Politics and Management.' started by OldBlackDog, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. OldBlackDog

    OldBlackDog Well-Known Member

    SRKW and their prey.
    by Jeremy Maynard
    SRKW. It’s just an acronym, perhaps not one that many recreational fishermen are familiar with but it is one that that in the near future I almost guarantee anglers will be hearing and reading about too often, and for none of the right reasons. It stands for Southern Resident Killer Whales, the salmon eating population that ranges over a large area from Vancouver Island down to northern California. There is a larger Northern RKW population, with the southern part of their range overlapping with that of the SRKW population and extending into Southeast Alaska.

    To get to the essence of why SRKW are relevant to a column like this there are two things to consider. Firstly, resident Killer Whales are considered “iconic animals”, and with a slowly declining population (< 80) the SRKW’s are listed as endangered under the federal Species At Risk Act (SARA). Secondly, research shows overwhelmingly that resident killer whales feed to a large extent on chinook salmon whenever possible, with chum salmon coming a distant second in the fall months only. So now you can see where this discussion is going …. Recently the federal government hosted a two and a half day symposium in Vancouver to bring together those interested in the SRKW population and with ideas on their recovery. It should be noted that no individuals or organizations from the recreational fishery were invited to participate despite our fishery’s obvious interest in the outcomes. Fortunately several members of the SFAB were able to attend and they came away troubled by the proceedings - the overwhelming feeling by environmental NGO’s, which were well represented, is that chinook fishing in much of southern BC should be ended, period. And in that opinion they likely came away encouraged for this is what Minister Dominic Leblanc had to say. After speaking to his governments legal responsibility under SARA and the moral responsibility on behalf of all Canadians to restore this population he stated “I as minister and my government are prepared to make the tough decisions necessary, including around allocations and fisheries management issues in order to ensure SRKW are able to find sufficient prey for their recovery and to ensure their long term health.” Get the picture now? At the close of the symposium DFO issued a news release headlined “Indigenous groups, science community, marine industry, and government partners make progress in protecting endangered killer whale population”. Seems like everyone’s mind is made up except no one talked to the hundreds of thousands of recreational fishermen or the organizations that represent them. Unlike the Northern RKW population that has steadily increased in size in recent decades, from about 120 animals in the early 1970’s to almost 300 now, the Southern RKW is slowly decreasing in population size with a troubling persistence of poor survival of juveniles to adulthood. With less than ten breeding age females in the population, themselves getting steadily older, the demographic trend for SRKW isn’t encouraging. Two other core issues have been identified as threats to their well being, noise pollution and toxins present in their bodies. The noise issue is thought to compromise the killer whales ability to locate and capture prey and as apex predators they are the final repository of the chemical pollutants they pick up over the course of their potentially long lives. My own guess is that as the SRKW become less well fed the effects of the toxins becomes more pronounced as these animals draw down their blubber, compounding the effects and increasing the consequences. The federal government has committed to more scientific research on both these issues but the easy quick fix, if only to show it is doing something substantive in the short-term beyond research, is to ensure more chinook are available to SRKW’s. There’s two ways of doing this, curtail fisheries or create more chinook. In 2012 DFO in partnership with the US NOAA sponsored an independent review of whether or not reducing chinook harvest would have a meaningful positive effect for the SRKW population. A key point in its report states that the panel “is therefore sceptical that reduced chinook salmon harvesting would have a large impact on the abundance of chinook salmon available to SRKW.” That implies harvest reductions might have a small impact on chinook abundance available to killer whales but you can bet that such actions will have a large impact on the fishery that accounts for half of the all fishery (commercial, recreational and aquaculture) GDP generated in BC. A more meaningful approach might be to increase the number of chinook available to the Southern Resident Killer Whales. To this end Minister Leblanc announced that funding from the new Coastal Restoration Plan would be made available for chinook freshwater habitat upgrading work, especially in the Fraser River. All well and good but this work will likely take decades to show a substantive positive effect. A quicker approach would be to sanction a number of strategically placed chinook smolt netpen projects around the southern end of Vancouver Island, with the aim that returning adults would provide food in the core habitat for the SRKW’s. This approach would generate results within a few years but will likely be opposed by the enviro NGO’s who are typically hostile to salmon enhancement in general and hatchery production in particular. However, at some point there has to an option other than the knee-jerk reaction of constraining fisheries or even outright closures. How this all plays out is unknown at this point but for sure it will be a topic that dominates fishery planning discussions throughout the winter and spring period to come. In the meantime I urge all anglers to become as knowledgeable as possible on this topic because the organizations that represent the recreational fishery are going to need all the encouragement and support they can get to make sure to the extent possible that the recreational fishery isn’t skewered to mitigate a situation arising from the poor stewardship of the Southern Resident Killer Whales and their environments exercised by the Canadian and US publics more broadly.
    wildmanyeah and Tugcapitan like this.
  2. SVIAC

    SVIAC Member

    Not only was SFAB in attendance at this SRKW Symposium but so was SVIAC (South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition), helping represent rec. anglers. We indeed need to be concerned as anglers about potential Chinook fishing closures and not just for areas 19 and 20!

    The data analysis clearly shows that at current rec. fishing harvest rates if all Chinook fishing was closed it would only feed the SRKW for approximately 2 weeks. Fishing closures are not the solution. Creating more Chinook for the SRKW's to eat and quickly is the answer.

    To this end SVIAC has already this year established a sea pen project in Sooke harbour to grow Nitinat chinook smolts for several weeks to a larger size that can double their return rates. This year 220,000 Chinook were released, next we plan to double that, till we reach our goal of 2 million in several years. With a reasonable 5% return rate we can have as many as around 100,000 Chinook returning to Sooke to feed the endangered SRKW! This is a practical solution to feeding starving orcas.

    SVIAC want to expands this project but we need more partners, funding and volunteers.

    Please consider helping out with the important and much needed project. For more information please go here:\

    To become a member of SVIAC to support this project please go here:
    Tugcapitan, 007 and SpringVelocity like this.
  3. SpringVelocity

    SpringVelocity Well-Known Member

    Just to add I think it very important that we as a group watch all of our support for NGO groups. Think twice before commenting on there social media pages and supporting them. I will no longer support these organizations. The only ones we should be getting behind in PSF, and groups such as SFI,SVAC and the SFAB. What I see happening is coalition of FN, Commercial; and our groups vs the NGO groups unfortunately. I never thought I would say that but it looks that way. There seem to be a coordinated effort through social media and lobbying from all of these groups to shut us down. I find it frustrating some of the articles last several weeks, and very selfish stance on these groups part. Any how I am going disengage from talking on here about this online because I think that is where a lot of the NGO are using the info to make the case against us.
    Derby likes this.
  4. Gong Show

    Gong Show Active Member

    Well put, as I have stated previously, the NGO's are self-interested. They want more members, more clout and more money.
    This results in big pushes for "quick fixes". Of course the quick fixes will not work, but they will be onto another campaign by then.

    Find a local organization that is not looking for soundbite fixes, then donate time and money generously.
  5. tincan

    tincan Well-Known Member

  6. OldBlackDog

    OldBlackDog Well-Known Member

    . Fortunately several members of the SFAB were able to attend and they came away troubled by the proceedings - the overwhelming feeling by environmental NGO’s, which were well represented, is that chinook fishing in much of southern BC should be ended, period. And in that opinion they likely came away encouraged for this is what Minister Dominic Leblanc had to say. After speaking to his governments legal responsibility under SARA and the moral responsibility on behalf of all Canadians to restore this population he stated “I as minister and my government are prepared to make the tough decisions necessary, including around allocations and fisheries management issues in order to ensure SRKW are able to find sufficient prey for their recovery and to ensure their long term health.” Get the picture now?
  7. scott craven

    scott craven Well-Known Member

    Yes, I sure do.
    Doesn't look good for the future of our fishery.
  8. bigdogeh

    bigdogeh Well-Known Member

    Doesn't seem like a very tough decision going after sportfishers...
    Why do we never hear any mention of the government getting rid of these cancerous fish farms in our once pristine inside waters? It'll be a cold day in hell that I put down my mooching rod as long as these open net pen fish farms continue operations, destroying our once prosperous wild salmon populations, where they aren't wanted by everyone except our corrupt government and the destructive fish farm industry itself.
    Get rid of these disease breeding open net fish farms and show us you're (government, Domenic Leblanc) actually making a decision that has some merit and I'm sure the others will do their part also.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
    ILHG and terrin like this.
  9. scott craven

    scott craven Well-Known Member

    I think we need to get on a letter writing program again to help make our voices heard.
    I sent mine this morning.

    Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
    Dear sir,

    It has come to my attention there is great concern for the SRKW population in the
    Juan de Fuca and Georgia straight waters.
    Apparently one of the issues at hand is the declining Chinook salmon population.
    I would like to urge you to invest tax dollars to help re-populate these fish rather
    than implement additional closures or restrictions.
    Realizing that all user groups have some impact, I would like to point out that
    sport fishing takes less than 2% of the available catch while contributing huge benefit
    to local business's involved in sport fishing as well as employing thousands of people.
    I believe more effort from tax dollars in habitat improvement and re-population
    will help Chinook salmon return to healthy numbers.

    Thank you,
    Scott Craven
    2535 Sinclair Rd.
    Victoria B.C.
    ILHG, ziggy, Birdsnest and 1 other person like this.
  10. OldBlackDog

    OldBlackDog Well-Known Member

    DFO did not respond in time to a request for comment on this story, but the Tyee did connect with Richard Beamish, an emeritus scientist listed on the DFO website as head of salmon interactions, coastal and oceanic ecosystems. Beamish is a Coho specialist, but knows enough about Chinook to say they’ve been in serious decline everywhere, including Russia, which accounts for 10 per cent of the world’s Chinook catch and more than 50 per cent of the overall Northern Pacific salmon catch (Canada accounts for only three per cent overall). In other words, it’s not just the Fraser River and Puget Sound that are seeing Chinook declines, it’s planet-wide. Others have suggested that among salmon species, Chinook may be more susceptible to climate change, and our warming, acidifying oceans. Oddly enough, as Beamish points out, “Pacific salmon in general are probably doing better than they have in recorded history. We are getting record catches of pink salmon in the North Pacific, especially in odd numbered years. [Pink and Chum] are doing quite well, but that’s not what the general public understands.”
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  11. Derby

    Derby Well-Known Member

    Total agree with u on this issue and others.. if you are not a member of any of the organization above...YOU SHOULD BE.. period .... just had my SFAC Area 17 meeting had a total of 8 BLOODY SAD people are not taking the time to get engaged with a process that the world only wish they had to engage government and have some input on are fisheries....but I guess most people will leave the heavy lifting to the so few of us to do...sad many people bothered to drop bye and see what DFO had going on with the wild salmon policy ?? they are going around asking for your opinions.... this will also tie in heavily with what solutions coming out of the this current orca stuff... at the very least go on line and put your comment in asking for a balanced approach....
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  12. SpringVelocity

    SpringVelocity Well-Known Member

    It was sad to see the amount of people there when I went Thursday in Nanaimo . It's just another example of what can be frustrating. Victoria is the same lucky if you can get 50 to go. I am not sure why people don't think it's important. Especially now. People really need to pay attention we could lose our fishery. It is that serious.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  13. Derby

    Derby Well-Known Member

    YUP.. could?? thinking WILL.. people just don't understand... bodies count.. how many people get engage, your participation counts, the memberships count..showing support to those that do the good fight COUNT.............its a bloody shame....if you don't belong to a group or engage in the meeting or just get involved....shame on you.....................
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  14. profisher

    profisher Well-Known Member

    I'm working on another event to raise money for the Sooke Chinook project that will see 500,000 Chinook smolts released into Sooke Harbour in May next spring. (the eggs are now in trays at Nitinat Hatchery) We are looking at putting on a dinner/dance in April next year. The plan is for a buffet dinner, 3 bands for a night of great live music and good times...all for the cause. I'm 58 going on 21 and still like to get out and have some fun...hoping I'm not the only one. There would be room for 500 people and we are looking at trying to come in at $80.00 per person. (includes $20.00 pp directly to the sea pen project) There would be a 50/50 draw, bar and silent auction items as well. All proceeds from the 50/50, bar and silent auction for the cause as well. Stay tuned!
  15. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

  16. scott craven

    scott craven Well-Known Member

  17. bones

    bones Well-Known Member

    there was a meeting attended by a good friend and turning up the hatcheries to produce more smolts was turned down due to science. increasing smolt production will increase predator numbers and within a few years you will back to the same problem, no chinook. great idea for immediate results but long term goal will not be met. other things to avoid the predators, are currently being implemented by some hatcheries like deep sea smolt releasing are show good results.
    tincan likes this.
  18. bigdogeh

    bigdogeh Well-Known Member

    Hey, why increase pacific salmon production when it's in direct competition with those awesome farmed atlantic salmon that make the government and subsidized FF industry so much money at taxpayer expense? Especially when we can keep expanding the size and numbers of farms and fill the farms with millions upon millions of invasive salmon since government pretty much allows the FF industry to do as they please. And why increase pacific salmon that also eat all those herring and other forage fish that the farmed salmon need so they can have a good supply of fish pellets? Doesn't make sense from DFO and industry perspective. And while we're at it lets get rid of those killer whales on our coast by keeping the numbers of wild salmon down to the smallest numbers possible. That will allow us to ramp up on those tankers running crude over to china with less friction from those "activists" that always get in our way. ... From what I've seen it seems their (DFO) mandate is to protect the fish farm industry and its contracts at all costs. DFO to FF industry, You rub my back, I'll rub yours...
    "increasing smolt production will increase predator numbers" seems like a pretty lame excuse to me.
  19. bones

    bones Well-Known Member

    Lol, Oh ok. Pretty lame. Couple questions?
    Do all farms farm Atlantic salmon?
    I believe the industry had gross sales around 500 mil, how much did tax payers have to subsidize?

    Have you read what's in or how fish food is made?
    Do you have proof of said " back rubbing?"
    Have you read the requirements of reporting and management practices in the BC region?
    It's the aquaculture industry (hatcheries) that said this. I guess there all just pigeons. I mean what would a guy that's been in fish for 30 years know's ....nothing.
  20. bones

    bones Well-Known Member

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