Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Mass Marking Hatchery Fish

What follows is the Sport Fish Advisory Board's (SFAB) comment on marked coho/chinook fishing in southern BC, at hatcheries, by DFO for 2020 and succeeding years.

If you follow what I write, you would know there are a couple more things that would make a big difference: saltwater netpens with 2 million marked, sterilized (diploid or triploid) chinook each, of stocks that circle the Straight of Georgia (SOG) for part of their life cycle. This includes Cowichan, Harrison, and Nanaimo chinook. 12 netpens for 10 years minimum. Also, Nitinat and Robertson for Juan de Fuca.

The reason for netpens is that the fish return to the site of the netpen and do not go back into a river. Hence there is no genetic degradation because hatchery fish are not as 'robust' as their wild confreres. And marked, sterilized ones don't interbreed. A terminal fishery can mop them up when they return. In addition, immature marked fish can be kept, while wild ones released to go on their ways.

And only wild ones would go back into rivers. No epigenetics problems.

Here is what the SFAB has to say. It is worth reading, so do go and read this three page summary: https://sportfishing.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-SFAB-perspective-on-Mark-Selective-Fisheries-and-Mass-Marking.pdf.

Friday, 14 February 2020

ENGOS Should be In-touch with Sport Fishing - We are allies, not Enemies

Hi Watershed Watch

I suggest you have a member who fishes get on the Sport Fish Advisory Board. The purpose would be to gain knowledge of how things actually work with respect to sport fishing.

Another thing to remember is that it is primarily sport fishers who undertake the largest role in putting on their gumboots and going into rivers for freshwater habitat restoration.

Also, the sport fishery is far larger than the rest of the salmon sectors in terms of jobs and revenue. Many of these have failed in the past two years because of closures, and many have lost jobs.

And, yes, last summer there were a lot more chinook in the waters than predicted. This led to distrust of DFO, who many see as the reason for 50 years of mismanagement and threatening most chinook, and coho in the Strait of Georgia since the 1990s to the point where many stocks are in crisis.

You might consider getting a member on the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the most important body for habitat restoration. Also, with the new structure, the Wild Salmon Advisory Committee, along with the PSF have the financial muscle to do habitat. This means that in due course, the province of BC has the basis to get on with the jobs that DFO has been remiss on.

Just a thought.

DC (Dennis) Reid

Monday, 1 July 2019

Daniel Pauly – Vanishing Fish

Danial Pauly is the Nobel Prize level scientist from UBC who has done the Sea Around Us program/document/computer systems that put together global fish catches from 1950 to 2010. He has just had a new book out, that summarizes his stellar career and catch stats: Vanishing Fish – Shifting Baselines and the Future of Global Fisheries.

This book moves rapidly over five decades and all over the world where he has lived and worked in the fishery stats world, particularly the tropics. He has somehow managed to live several lives in multiple places with his greatest achievement to put different scientific areas together that had little previous interaction, figure out computer models to track catches and execute them. He has done several different modelling systems over the years, the Sea Around Us being where you can enter his world: http://www.seaaroundus.org/. It has nifty graphics on its home page. Go take a look.

Other issues included his term ‘shifting baselines’, the tendency of each new generation, in his case, science people, to consider what came before them as the baseline, rather than go back to the beginning to see how much really has been lost. An example would be east coast cod over the centuries, as interestingly put together by Mark Kurlansky, in Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. The 500-year history is a cool read, which includes how black people ‘came’ to America, sugar plantations, and rum.
Shifting baselines means that each new generation has a faulty picture of where the fish resource was, and thus whatever solutions they have are wrong. 

Historically, fishing has had three major features: utilizing near shore waters and moving out until they drop into the abyss; developing different methods of fisheries to exploit deeper and deeper water, and the species found there; and moving into uglier species once the catch of what was wanted could no longer be caught, and further and further away from home port. And fuel subsidies have distorted effort.

Along with this there were a whole range of problems with the stats, and putting the stats together: commercial fishing demersal trawling methods destroyed the ocean floor, or benthos; ignoring discards; ignoring artisanal and sport fisheries; and, vast over reported catch from China, which lead to higher and false estimates of fish abundance. Along with this are the distorting effects of subsidies for fleets, tropical countries that were decades behind in the science and governance structures of Europe and North America. 

Additionally, fleets were developed with billion-dollar bank projects. They then moved all around the globe catching other people’s and global fish. EEZs means ‘exclusive economic zones’, meaning 200 miles offshore, in both Canada and the States, but now up to 270 nations. ‘Agreements’ which allowed distant fleets to plunder African, Ghana for instance, stocks lead to crashing numbers around the world. 

An example of how specific the coalesced global stats could be, Pauly’s project determined that Norway had destroyed the Jack Mackerel stocks off Chile, and on far Pacific, pelagic stocks of the same species. Here is the graph of that collapse:

The Sea Around Us determined that 19 of 20 global fish stocks of ‘reduction’ fisheries were collapsing, poorly managed, or both. It is the reason, after trashing them, fish farm companies now have to move to single cell algae, maggots, soybean and other materials to feed their carnivorous salmon.

Pauly points out that so-called ‘reduction’ fisheries destroyed distant stocks to make feed for agricultural species like cows, hogs, chickens, fish. Yes, even species that had never eaten a fish, have been stuffed with them, rather than catching these small, pelagics for third world humans. They are instead used to fatten up ‘meat’ for first world mouths, since only they can afford them.

The other kind of fisheries are for ‘direct human consumption’ and the sad commentary is that fully 25% of all global fish are for reduction fisheries. An additional 25% are discards, meaning unwanted fish that are killed while catching the intended target and are simply dumped overboard, rather than be required to be landed for human use. And more recently, ‘high grading’ which is the reprehensible turfing of dead target fish already caught, when the fishing boat comes in contact with larger members of the target species. Terrible.

Moving back to Pauly: the list of brought together subjects includes meshing ecology with biology, subjects that a non-specialist would think were always meshed, but not so. Pauly attended conferences around the world and worked in more places than all the rest of us put together. Perhaps his single best quality, is that he has a mind that can see what conceptual outcome is required, find a way to add together the various fields, including developing and meshing technical languages, rigorizing the data, holes and figuring out data that don’t exist.

Pauly is well connected with other scientists, which allows him to work with tons of distant people with good minds. The references number 702 and an alarming number bear his name. I say alarming because how come the rest of us haven’t done the same?... probably not a good thought train to move along the many miles. Or laziness, at least that has the shifting baseline of our sloth, as in the definition of a rationalization includes that it has to be made in our favour.

Pauly makes short forays into North American fisheries subjects, NOAA and DFO. He covers the Miller, Viral Signature work, so important to the Cohen Commission third session, which Cohen reconvened to cover disease. She showed that PRV, er, a Viral Signature affected up to 90% of Fraser sockeye, so badly that they failed to spawn, even if they made it back to their tributary. In other words: “The smoking gun.” The look on her face, when coaxed to say the words, is indelible in the mind.

Additionally, he went with Alexandra Morton to catch salmon fry in the Broughton Archipelago in shallow bays near shorelines. In 2001, for example, the escapement fell from, as I recall, 1,470,000 pink salmon to just exceeding 100,000, an absolute collapse. Pauly then, briefly mentions that he was alarmed to be in a meeting with DFO scientists, who, were trashing her personally saying she had ‘spiked’ the lice data.

Pauly also discusses ITQs, individual vessel quotas, TAC, total allowable catch, and how DFO uses those concepts and stats to divvy up potential catch among commercial, sport and First Nations. Anybody on the SFI, SFAB, WSAC, PSC and other technical committees would benefit from this book.

Vanishing Fish is clear, direct, succinct. It has an unmistakeable self authenticizing tone. Pauly comes across as a unique mind, with unique contacts, putting together unique minds and subject matters. It would be nice if there were many more of him. If would do humanity good. Read this book.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Robson Bight Rubbing Stones for Orca

Hi Doug Donaldson/Claire Trevana/John Horgan

I spend up to 50 days a year in Vancouver Island’s back country, and have done so for the past 25 years. Very few people do what I do.

In the Tsitika River area, which is beside Schmidt, what I see is lots of clearcutting on steep slopes, between it and the Eve River on the Tsitika Main. Schmidt is between the two.

My experience is that forests hold moisture, whether rain or snow. When the forest is gone, and in such rocky territory, rain moves off in a flood that hits river courses hard, but also dwindles to next to nothing in a few days. Canyon rivers all over the Island go through this flood/no-water cycle.

Both through increasingly dry summers, and floods, of winters of heavy precipitation events, river courses take it hard. The Tsitika, for example, between the two bridges below the highway, is water trickling through big boulders between floods. Much of this length is open and hot in summer.

I have walked down to the Catherine Creek entrance from both directions, Catherine and Tsitika. I can tell you that between pools, in summer, the river doesn’t exist. Catherine can be devoid of water, with boulders the size of your car as you stand on its bridge and look downstream to a dry gulch devoid of logs. Floods just push logs through, destroying habitat, rather than scouring out around rootballs and creating fish habitat.

Increasingly in summer, rivers are too hot, have low oxygen and poor quality fish habitat for much of their lengths. Floods on the other hand wipe out redds, or bury eggs, and blow fry out of high gradient rivers.

I have been going back to some side streams – where all the coho come from – for decades. And what I see, is that logging, even with its 100M boundary, simply destroys these important bodies of water, more so than rivers they flow into, and are even more easily destroyed, with gravel, but particularly lack of water.

As coho spend a year in side streams, ones that dry out completely mean the extinction of the coho run, in one summer. It is that simple and that unforgiving.

So, how about putting more care into protecting the fish, and the orca stones? The area has some real rough country. I passed over an avalanche one May when transiting between the Eve/Tsitika watersheds. Some of the peaks are almost vertical in this area.

The other result from logging, is that the gravel washes out when roots no longer hold it in place. It can take 100 years to flow through a river that has flat land in its course to the ocean. Most Van Isle rivers fall into this class. And I am watching millions of tons of gravel move down rivers. 20 miles can take 100 years, and the gravel destroys habitat as is gets blown on freshets, particularly the insect nymphs that comprise the food source for fish: stoneflies, caddis, Mayflies and so on, which need rocks with algae to grow on, not small gravel and silt.

Please help the Robson Bight area. It is one of our gems and needs your help.

I have read the comments by government people in the article, and can tell you that they have no idea what happens to Island rivers in real time. Their assurances mean nothing. If they want to come with me someday, they would gain a new understanding of what rivers actually go through.


DC Reid