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.

Thanks

DC Reid


Sunday, 9 June 2019

DFO’s 2019 Fraser Chinook Plan


After all the meetings, wrangling, head shaking and unwilling capitulation, this year’s plan for Fraser chinook has been released by DFO. The June 7 letter is addressed to:

First Nations Chiefs, Councillors and Fisheries Representatives
Sport Fishing Advisory Board
Commercial Salmon Advisory Board
Marine Conservation Caucus


Earlier, COSEWIC released a report, including 13 Fraser chinook stocks: 7 are assessed as Endangered, 4 as Threatened, 1 as Special Concern and only 1 was deemed Not at Risk.

See: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/committee-status-endangered-wildlife/assessments/wildlife-species-assessment-summary-nov-2018.html.  In addition, productivity of many of these populations has declined to the point where fewer offspring are returning compared to the parent generation and the populations will continue to decline even in the absence of fishery mortalities unless conditions improve.

I will return to this bold faced section below as it is the whole point here.

How bad are things? This bad: Only 490 natural origin Chinook returned to the Nicola River (Spring 4-2s) in 2018 from a parental generation of 7,122 Chinook.

And the plan takes the following into account: “Achieving these conservation objectives is our highest priority and requires significant actions in commercial troll, recreational and First Nations fisheries in times and areas where at risk Fraser Chinook may be encountered. Fraser Spring 4-2 and Spring 5-2 Chinook return to spawn from early March through late July, with migration peaks in June through the lower Fraser River. Summer 5-2 Chinook have later timing and return to the Fraser River to spawn from late June to August with a peak in late July.”

The overall plan is: “While conservation of at risk Fraser Chinook is the primary objective in managing the resource, the Department is also committed to respecting Constitutional and Treaty obligations to provide priority for First Nations harvest opportunities for Food, Social and Ceremonial and Treaty obligations after conservation requirements are met. Conservation measures will constrain First Nations Chinook harvest opportunities while at risk Fraser Chinook or other stocks of concern (e.g. Early Stuart Sockeye) migrate through fishing areas. Prior to July 15th, the Department is permitting very limited Fraser River FSC fishery opportunities to harvest small numbers of Chinook for ceremonial purposes which is consistent with the overall management objective for fishery mortalities near 5% for these stocks. In addition, new restrictions in commercial and recreational fisheries are intended to support increased availability of not at risk Summer 41 Chinook for First Nations fisheries harvest opportunities during August and September. These restrictions include an extended closure of the commercial troll fishery in Northern BC until August 20 which is intended to pass through not at risk Summer 41 (South Thompson) Chinook that typically comprise 20-30% of troll harvests to the Fraser River. The Kamloops Lake commercial demonstration fishery targeting South Thompson (Summer 41) Chinook will also be closed. Recreational salmon fisheries in southern BC will remain at reduced limits of 1 Chinook per day after the Chinook non-retention period ends (i.e. after July 14 or July 31 depending on area) and recreational fisheries in the Fraser River will remain closed until at least August 23.”

So, what is the plan? The rec-fish plan, which is what we care about, is:

Recreational fishing: Management measures are identified where at-risk Chinook stocks may be encountered, including:

• Non-retention of Chinook in Queen Charlotte Strait, Johnstone Strait and Northern Strait of Georgia until July 14; a daily limit of one (1) Chinook per person per day from July 15 until August 29, and two (2) Chinook per person per day from August 30 until December 31.

• Non-retention of Chinook in the Juan de Fuca Strait and Southern Strait of Georgia until July 31; retention of one (1) Chinook per person per day from August 1 until August 29, and two (2) Chinook per person per day from August 30 until December 31.

• West Coast Vancouver Island offshore areas (seaward of 1 nautical mile from the surfline) will have non-retention of Chinook until July 14 followed by a limit of two (2) Chinook per day from July 15 to December 31. West Coast Vancouver Island inshore waters will remain at two (2) Chinook per day.

• Fraser River recreational fisheries will remain closed to salmon fishing until at least August 23. After that date, opportunities for species other than Chinook will be informed by in-season abundance and other conservation issues (Coho, Steelhead, etc.). Reduced Fishing opportunities may be provided in tributary areas during times and locations at-risk Chinook stocks would not be encountered.

• An overall reduction in the total annual limit for Chinook that can be retained per person in tidal waters from 30 to 10.”

For, in season updates, look here: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/index-eng.html.

And after the season, DFO will be looking into: “The challenges facing at-risk Fraser River Chinook salmon stocks are multi-faceted. The road to recovery requires a long-term view and the collaboration of First Nations, multiple levels of government and all interested parties. DFO will be following up with First Nations, the Province of BC and stakeholders to establish a process to address a broad range of issues that are impacting Chinook stocks, including: land and water use issues; fish habitat issues; the role of hatcheries to support rebuilding and the potential for mark-selective fisheries targeting hatchery-origin fish; how predation by seals and sea lions may be affecting Chinook salmon; and other concerns. Establishing a process to have these important discussions will play a vital role in determining how best to steward this resource going forward and what options may exist to further address the social, cultural and economic importance of these Chinook stocks. This will require everyone to work toward identifying mutually-beneficial solutions and ensuring conservation objectives are met to provide for future opportunities. Further information will be provided on this process in the near future.”

The major issue, and what my boldfacing was about, is that this process is: after 50 years of managing salmon into this depressed state, DFO expects to continue forward, doing the same things and thus manage salmon into extinction. Once they are finished off, there is no need to do anything.

The major item is always: freshwater habitat restoration. We all know that to foster wild salmon, the best thing to do, is protect and restore habitat so that nature can do its thing. Along with this we need to develop epigenetic hatchery output so that enhanced fry are as near to wild as possible. Some of this work has already begun, but the point here is that pretty much DFO’s whole focus is ratchetting down fishing mortality, rather than putting more fish in the sea.

My post on a plan is here, and has received more than 10,000 page views, netpens of sterilized chinook every year for the next ten years, while we are doing epigenetic hatchery work, and fixing and preventing habitat from being lost as the next best thing: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.com/2018/05/dfo-salmon-and-killer-whales.html. This is a five minute read.

Go read that for a base plan to move forward. And then consider that the $142M by DFO and $40M by the BC govt should find most of the cash used for freshwater habitat restoration and beginning to make changes that addresses climate change. I am working on this one.

Note that the money is skewed toward ‘innovation’, ‘new technology’ and ‘an Indigenous component’. You need to apply for $$ hitting those buttons, while trying to do the most important thing which is freshwater habitat restoration. The post is a two minute read with a link to the DFO site on accessing the cash: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.com/2019/04/salmon-restoration-and-innovation-fund.html.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

DFO's SRKW Plan, Revisited Yet Again

This post covers two items: 1. DFO's SRKW/fishery plan for 2019 and 2. Applying for funding for freshwater habitat restoration projects.


1. DFO's site on SRKW PDF material is:  https://fisheriesandoceanscanada.app.box.com/s/0vp0qrlitw3lu9dj8zn061rpf4bw9251.

This is the DFO plan for dealing with SRKW and salmon, the May 10, 2019 PDF: https://fisheriesandoceanscanada.app.box.com/s/0vp0qrlitw3lu9dj8zn061rpf4bw9251/file/455774025947.

The main items are: 
 
    Five Technical Working Groups (TWGs) were established to provide advice 
     on immediate and longer-term recovery measures:


       Prey Availability

       Sanctuaries  

       Large Vessel Noise 
       General Vessel Noise 
       Contaminants
      And:

              Included technical and subject matter experts from Indigenous groups,

            environmental organizations, academia, commercial and recreational

         harvesters, shipping, other levels of government, Washington State and others.
         See the map on slide 12 for closed areas in Juan de Fuca, Swiftsure and WCVI. 
         There are fishing closures, sanctuary closures, voluntary non-fishing, depthsounder closures
         and minimum distances from killer whales. The closure from Port Renfrew to 
         Sheringham affects us the most. To the east of Victoria, there are closures in the 
          islands, for example, Pender and Saturna.

         Slide 15 shows the closures, etc. in the Gulf Islands from Sidney to the north. 

         Oddly, slide 16 at the Fraser mouth, includes no closures. I wonder why? 

         Slide 17 is the meat of the matter from our perspective, including increasing chinook, 
         though they mention only 2019 release of Harrison chinook, the late Juan de Fuca fish,
         to bring and additional 35,000 adult fish back starting in 2023. 

          Note that my plan uses Cowichan, Nitinat and Robertson Creek Chinook to pump in
          fish in 2019 with many Cowichan circling Strait of Georgia for a year or so, meaning 
          SRKW food starting in 2020 - not three years later in 2023. My approach would feed 
          all of Juan de Fuca, and if the Quinsam hatchery was used to put out Campbell, 
          Puntledge and Nanaimo stocks, they, too would be in larger numbers by 2023, 
          just as DFO's Fraser program aims. I think this is too long for peanut head SRKWs to 
         wait, but my initial plan is to put fish for food by 2020. 

          Many of the slides that follow, concern vessel noise, distance, and traffic separation 
          zones. 

          Slide 26 has useful links for sport fishers: where you can get fisheries notices, and 
          specific measures in the areas you want to fish.


For example, here is the DFO plan for fisheries:

"Subject: FN0395-COMMERCIAL, RECREATIONAL and ABORIGINAL - Salmon - 
Fraser Chinook 2019 Management Measures - Vancouver Island, Fraser Interior 
and North Coast, and Coast-wide Recreational Annual Aggregates - Amendment 
to FN0377."
 
You can get updates by email. Go here to view or subscribe to fisheries notices: 
 http://notices.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fns-sap/index-eng.cfm.
 
 
***

Now, moving to the next item of how to get involved in bringing back wild salmon, as in get some funding: 2. This is DFO's funding link for getting money for freshwater habitat restoration projects, etc.: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/initiatives/fish-fund-bc-fonds-peche-cb/apply-demande-page01-eng.html.

Read the criteria. They will not result in money being well spent. I pointed out to Wilkinson that because it focuses on innovation and new technology, it is not addressing the most important issue with salmon which is straight forward freshwater habitat restoration. This is about putting on gumboots and getting in a river to fix it, and for business donation of heavy equipment where needed. It is also for using the PSF for money leveraging, and for the WSAC, as a provincial body, to make a made in BC answer.

See this for my comments: https://fishfarmnews.blogspot.com/2019/04/salmon-restoration-and-innovation-fund.html.

The point is that the criteria are worded in such a way that the major item, freshwater habitat restoration for wild BC salmon, is not going to receive the money it should.

DFO's west coast Regional Director, Cheryl Webb, Ecosystems Management, Pacific Region had this to say to me: I have put her letter on this link: https://onfishingdcreid.blogspot.com/2019/05/cheryl-webb-note-to-dcr-wild-bc-salmon.html , which is the post just before this post.

Here are some of her weasel words:


"Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) understands the importance of the fishery resource to all who depend on it for their sustenance, livelihood, and recreation. DFO works to protect and conserve marine and freshwater ecosystems and the living resources they support."

These words ring hollow to anyone who lives in BC, so are they only written to sound good to DFO staff in Ottawa?

The words ring hollow because DFO has been managing SRKWs and wild BC salmon into extinction for the past 50 years. Here is my first post on this issue: https://fishfarmnews.blogspot.com/2018/05/dfo-salmon-and-killer-whales.html. The fundamentals of this issue are: $$ for freshwater habitat restoration and netpens of chinook to put SRKW food in the water as soon as possible. This post has been viewed 10,000 times.

Cheryl Webb goes on:

"This fund is a critical collaboration for Canada and British Columbia, as BC’s land- and water-use management responsibilities have a great impact on fish stocks." 

This is the reason why, when I contact the BC govt or WSAC - the wild salmon advisory council - I tell them that with their structure being brought into existence for this issue, finally gives BC the complete machinery it needs to move on from DFO and do something that actually saves BC salmon - and saves them from DFO in the far oft land of Ottawa, where they should stay. Take their money given to the Pacific Salmon Foundation and solve the problem - a made in BC solution as John Horgan might say.

Cheryl goes on:

"SEP’s Resource Restoration Unit supports a multitude of partnerships and projects that contribute to salmon habitat restoration. And the Coastal Restoration Fund has provided over $18.6 million to fund restoration projects in freshwater, estuarine, and marine habitats in British Columbia."

The way the whole paragraph reads is that the Salmon Enhancement Program has a large part that is about habitat restoration; however, the key weasel word is: And, the paragraph says SEP does habitat restoration, so one assumes that the Coastal Restoration Fund is a SEP program. But go and look at it, as it is not: http://dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/crf-frc/apply-presenter/page-01-eng.html.

The CRF is an existing program, and is not a SEP program - which is primarily about putting salmon fry in the water. It is only the weasel word And that has a normal human being assuming the SEP, who we trust, has the money. Further, the program funding is over for this year, and is most about Indigenous, and the other ocean coasts of Canada. 

In other words, most of this money is spent elsewhere, not in BC, and has already been spent. Look on the eligible projects page and it will have virtually nothing to do with habitat restoration. Neither do the expenses part of it.

I should add that I could find no words that link the project to the SEP program in BC - and there are loads of text pages and links. Nor do I find any budget figures to substantiate Cheryl's $18.6M spent 'in' BC; however, the map in the documents makes it clear that BC would be the small recipient in this across-Canada program.

Cheryl goes on:

"In addition, the Department funds and delivers the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program (RFCPP). The RFCPP was developed to support projects led by recreational fishing and angling groups, as well as conservation organizations, aimed at improving the conservation of recreational fisheries habitat."



Here is what I see: it is an across Canada program of only $8.6M. In 2017/18 it spent $4M, and presumably spent the same in 18/19, so the max that is left is $.6M for 2019. So, if it is across Canada that means .6/10 = .06M or $60,000 for BC this year. And, there is more, DFO is looking more kindly at Indigenous for receiving funding, Doesn't that mean at best, we are looking at half of that, or $30,000 for Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program in BC this year?

Is it just me that sees weasel words everywhere I look, or is it that there are weasel words everywhere I/we look, when it comes to dealing with DFO?

Hmm.

(If you had trouble reading the blacked out words, I posted this on my fish farm blog, where it is easier to read:  https://fishfarmnews.blogspot.com/2019/05/dfo-srkws-and-funding-yet-again-yes-yet.html).