Yup, Get After Those Pinnipeds Earlier this week a post of an article written by now retired Globe and Mail environmental reporter Mark Hume several years ago showed up on a local sport fishing bulletin board frequently used as a sounding board by BC salmon fishing devotees. There’s a bit of confusion around why the article appeared now given that the circumstances referenced occurred several years ago. Interestingly, a little digging turned up another similar article that appeared in 2018 (see below). Once again, there is confusion in that it isn’t too much of a stretch to believe that this more recent piece is referencing the same era and events. Why it appeared last summer and why it didn’t get broader distribution at the time is a mystery, at least to me. Sorting out the details of which events contributed to which article and why they appeared when they did is not what ought to be of concern. Rather, it’s the responses that materialized on social media shortly after. Here’s a sample: “I ask you all to think deep into why D.F.O. or someone else is releasing this information that is from May 2011? Looks to me like the same ole stir up the whites to hate the Indians so all fishers can keep fighting.” “I ask you all, please don’t be fools and take the bait. The bait being the guilty party tossing a bone with a little meat for all of us to fight over like rabid dogs! I know the vast majority of you want to see a pinniped harvest expanded by First Nations to protect all our salmon. By supporting one another we could well see B.C.residents shooting seals and sea lions with Provincial license one day along side we First Nation food fishers? “ “Don’t let hate and anger dictate where we go from here! Show you are above the guilty party that posted ancient news to make the push for a pinniped harvest weakened. Remember, this is all about protecting our salmon, steel head, sturgeon and other fin fish. Stay the coarse and stay focused without animosity between we The People of The Salmon!” So, its all about pinnipeds being the primary agent responsible for the demise of everything from chinook to sturgeon. How does that opinion square with the professionals’ like marine mammal expert Dr. Andrew Trites whose work demonstrates the seal population that so many are convinced is the smoking gun has been stable for the last decade? Has anyone compared the Fraser salmon, steelhead and sturgeon populations’ status over that same period. Has anyone looked at, for example, the growth of the in-river net fishery for chum salmon by First Nations fishers? That would be the fishery that harvested less than 10% of the chum salmon it does today in the period before the lower Fraser chum hatcheries came on line and before the lucrative market for chum roe in foreign lands mushroomed. And, does anyone think there is less FN net pressure on every other stock and species migrating through the lower Fraser in the period since those two articles referenced above appeared? That’s only the legally sanctioned FN fisheries. Who can provide conclusive evidence there is less illegal fishing today than there was when Mark Hume’s article appeared? Perhaps some reminders from the past two summers on the lower Fraser are in order. An easily found social media picture of DFO officers retrieving an illegal gill net on the Fraser in November, 2017. Senior DFO enforcement staff reported seizing 250 gill nets from these same areas in 2018. That was with the least patrol effort in the last five years. Same area of the lower Fraser in 2017. Sept 27, 2018 near Aggasiz (from the Face Book page of a prominent First Nations leader.) One of the many photos of discarded fish from the same area of the Fraser in mid-October 2018. Maybe I’ll be perceived as one of those evil people posting ancient news that weakens the case for pinniped harvest. So be it but I like to think of my opinion as wild fish advocacy rather than conquer and divide tactics. How about if we do something about the level of legal and, more importantly, illegal harvest of salmon, steelhead and sturgeon by indiscriminate gill nets in the lower Fraser before jumping on the pinniped harvest bandwagon?