Sunday, 27 November 2016

Bill C-228

Every one of us who fishes for wild Pacific salmon should tell their MP to support Fin Donnelly’s new private-member’s bill – C-228 – that has now had second reading. It supports wild salmon by calling for fish farms to be taken out of the water and raised on land in closed containers.

I would also say that from now on when committees are set up to handle salmon issues, we have to ask for additional members that represent aboriginal, commercial fishing, sport fishing, independent scientist, environmental non-governmental organization and a member of the public. The purpose is so we can have faith that the process is not manipulated by government and fish farms.

The other thing, which I think is important, is that the chinook stamp on our licences should be quadrupled to $24, or $7.2 million total revenue. The current $1.8 million DFO now hands to the Pacific Salmon Foundation for habitat restoration. In addition, we should be asking the federal and provincial governments to each add matching dollars to the PSF, resulting in a combined amount of $21.6 million annually. With the PSF’s ability to leverage money at a 7 to 1 ratio, with BC volunteer/business donations, the amount gets us to $151.2 million invested in salmon habitat restoration annually – the most important problem with declining wild salmon in BC. (There are those 77,000 culverts that need replacing, for instance, and items such as head water dams for 
climate change that are pricey).

The other important thing that this suggestion achieves is that it gets habitat restoration out of the hands of DFO in Ottawa and brings it back to BC where we have more interest in our salmon than decision makers so far away. We have so much interest that a survey showed that salmon are as important to British Columbians as French is to Quebec (See reference 1 in the debate post below). That is pretty sobering.

Now, Bill C-228: speakers during debate included two liberals and I chose to respond to the longer speech of the two, Serge Cormier, an MP from NB. The main thing wrong with his words is that everything said is platitudes that sound good, but do not obtain when we start looking at how things work in the real world. The entire speech is DFO/fish farm spin, and I decided to take each claim apart.

My post is: I chose to use a lot of references – 30 – and be as short and sharp in rebuttal as I could be. Go read the Cormier words, and my responses.

I think the most important issue is that we can no longer trust government to handle wild salmon on our behalf, and thus the need for representation from other stakeholders on all committees. To zero in on only one issue raised, see reference 8 in that document. (See: 

The referenced post details the results of a Freedom of Information request for documents from DFO and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on testing of wild and farmed BC salmon for diseases. What they did was search for a lab they thought would give them back negative results, as in no disease, and how to get the contract going and make it look right. Commonly put, that is fraudulent. And they chose the BC testing system to do the work.

If DFO and the CFIA think the BC testing system gives negative results, that means the entire system we have for protecting our wild BC salmon doesn’t work, hence, my suggestions for change. You will recall that Cohen called for the conflict of interest in supporting fish farms be excised from DFO and for it to get on with its real work, the Wild Salmon Policy, to bring back our wild fish. 

Incidentally, the issue of conflict originates in Norway where the BC industry started. Cermaq, for instance, was started inside government and made some elected officials very wealthy. Government and business move forward arm in arm to make the most money possible for the industry. They call it: neoliberalism We call it: fraud. On the other hand, scientists whose research unveils problems are attacked (See: 

So, the conclusion I draw is that calling for science is either na├»ve or disingenuous. In Norway, for instance, the CEO of Marine Harvest, Helge Aarskog, is quoted as saying lice are their worst problem (See references 26 and 27), and has 90 scientific studies going to try and solve the problem. And, of course, industry paying for research, also results in conflict of interest. Meanwhile, in BC, the same company says lice are not a problem. 

I receive more than 20 global fish farm newsletters every week, and have been very surprised by the amount of bad news there is in the global fish farm/seafood industry – more than 1,000 stories in little more than a year (See: Scan the bold facing for a minute and you will see the huge amount of bad news. The first problem is that it is a boom/bust industry. A current example of a boom is Grieg Seafood’s Placentia Bay, NL plan for the largest fish farm complex in the world.

I would add that diseases normally wipe out large parts of the industry. A current example of a bust is the loss of 23 million farmed salmon in Chile in March 2016, the algal bloom due, in part, to their own sewage, and the military’s dumping of 75,000 metric tonnes of diseased dead fish less than 50 miles off shore. My estimate of the sewage cost of in-ocean fish farms to all of us in BC is $10.4 billion, a figure that took me a very long time to figure out. 

So, in Canada, we have a government system looking not to find disease, and Serge saying that sites are fallowed between use so things are great on the sewage front, and finally that fish farm fish are nutritious. Look at the graph in the post on Bill C-228 debate. It shows that farmed fish have ten times the cancer-causing PCBs, dioxins and so on of any other meat. And that one scientist, Claudette Bethune ended up ‘losing’ her job in Norway researching the amounts of cadmium and mercury in farmed fish. 

Another figure that took me a long time to figure out is the number of wild fish that are killed to feed an industry the size of BC’s to harvest once. It is 5.76 billion, and 19 out of 20 global forage fish stocks have been mismanaged and ruinously fished down. BC’s industry is only 8.5% the size of Norway’s and Norway is only one country of a dozen that raise farmed fish carnivores. The reality is that trillions of wild fish are killed to bring the global product to harvest once. And 50% of salmonids die in countries where they operate. This includes BC. See:

So, get in touch with your MP and tell the person to vote for Bill C-228, which is a place to start. Then ask DFO to quadruple the chinook stamp and give the money to the PSF.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Spawning Escapement Preliminary Numbers - 2016

The numbers are in for our local rivers. Most people will know DFO’s Wilf Leudke, who presented the stats to the Port Renfrew/Cowichan SFAB meeting recently (Phone: 250-756-7722).

For chinook, the San Juan returned 898, to a system with an 11-year average of 1,711, with a high of 4,007 in 2014. The counting fence was removed Oct 3 because of high water, with the local people describing the run as plentiful thereafter. The Nitinat returned 10,000, to a system with an 11-year average of 9,476, with a high of 20,464 in 2014. And let me add that there were lots of fatties in the 35-pound range, that snapped up spinners at a rate far above the average.

The Cowichan looks to have returned more than 10,000 chinook, with lots of jacks (this usually means that the subsequent year will have higher numbers, particularly if they are 3-year-old, 15 pound jacks; however, the preliminary Salmon Outlook for 2017 reports that the jacks were 2 year fish, suggesting 2018-2019 should be the better years with lots of 3-year jacks in 2017). It is the highest return since the early ‘90s, and good news for a river that was down and out for many years. Volunteers are to be patted on the back.

In Port Renfrew, the creel survey interviewed 161 boats over the summer, June to September at the marinas. For areas 20, 21 and 121 (Juan de Fuca to Pachena Point, including Swiftsure Bank) the total was 1,534 fishing trips (note that there is some overlap with the Renfrew figures).

Port Renfrew/Swiftsure is considered West Coast Van Isle, which extends up the outside to Cape Scot and around the corner, heading for Port Hardy on the inside. In PR/S some 2,074 chinook were retained (listed as ‘landed’) with a catch rate per boat (2,074/1,534) of 1.4 chinook.

The number of trips, meaning all boats on the water, whether they caught fish or not, or were or weren’t sampled, is much higher for WCVI: 65,817, slightly below the five-year average of 67,691. For the same extensive area, the chinook catch was 67,853, well below the five-year average of 103,130 or 65.8%. Not good. The number of chinook released was roughly the same number – 67,590 – as were retained.

The big catch areas were, as one would expect, where the hatcheries are: Barkley Sound of 11,396 chinook, the Robertson Creek hatchery on the Stamp being the reason; in Nootka Sound, where the Conuma hatchery is: 6,939, or only 41.6% of the five year average. For the Nitinat, the numbers are incidental as area 21 is very small, and Swiftsure/Port Renfrew/Nitinat Bar are part of 20 and 121.
Moving to coho, the total WCVI retained was 21, 821, well below the five-year average of 52,860, or 41.3%. Some 70,260 coho were released. 

As for halibut, the total retained for WCVI was 15,003, some 60.8% of the 24,670, five-year average. 5,580 halibut were released. For those looking for some consistent halibut action, Swiftsure Bank had the highest numbers on WCVI, and presumably the entire Island, as the inside has fewer fish, and mostly those who migrate in from the outside. Before you go, do remember that this is open water and conditions change rapidly, so exercise good sense and have a full component of electronics on board. Only go out in the company of another boat. Finally, you need to know that the best area is between the closed area and the US/CDN border, meaning it is on the far or south side of the closed area. Scrutinize the boundaries on the area site above – you will need them for your GPS.

As for the preliminary Salmon Outlook numbers for WCVI, they show that the hatchery rivers should return good numbers in 2017, so Renfrew/Nitinat/Swiftsure, along with Barkley and Nootka sounds, inside waters look like the places to be in 2017. I did hear of some tough fishing this summer in Nootka’s inside waters, so check before you go. Alberni Inlet ended up better than the crash that was expected, and the derby winner was 53 pounds.

On the other hand, wild chinook are depressed and the recent figure of 6,000 for all of WCVI is pretty poor, meaning something needs to be done by DFO. In Clayoquot Sound, the 2012 number was 501 in six streams, along with 22 fish farms in those waters, a gauntlet of disease and algal bloom to get through. And in Nootka Sound, Grieg Seafood had furunculosis earlier this year.

On the east side of VI, the Cowichan is starting to approach a stock with fishery potential. As some fish cruise home down the inside, that means they will be caught in approach fisheries. Note that chinook tend to stage in Saanich Inlet in September, implying that some come around from Juan de Fuca. If you are interested in a local release fishery (Saanich Inlet is typically closed to chinook retention in September to protect these fish) the calm waters of Bamberton await. Also, give midwater Squally Reach a try because coho tend to stage there in the same time frame, very deep, as in plus 200 feet.

Inside hatchery rivers Q and Big Q, Cowichan and Puntledge are rated 2 of 4, stable but not good. Rivers with modest wild summer run chinook are Nanaimo, Puntledge and Cowichan.
WCVI coho are rated ho hum to good, with river spawning stocks stable.

The other table, item 3, in the material Leudke brought to the PR SFAB meeting is difficult to summarize. I suggest you go out to a meeting, and look at it yourself or request it from the DFO rep. The Victoria meeting is November 24 at the Esquimalt Anglers hall at 7 PM, 1101 Munro Street. Everyone is welcome.

Table three lists the DNA data on stream of origin for chinook sampled in the WCVI fishery in 2016. Early Fraser fish are represented through out the summer. Hood Canal fish are predominantly in July and in even higher numbers than Frasers. North Puget Sound fish are caught most frequently in September.

Our fisheries caught none to a few chinook from the Pacific side of Washington (excepting those from the upper Columbia), as well as Oregon and California chinook.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Sport Fishing Advisory Board Fall Meetings

The SFAB is the information conduit between sport fishers and DFO. There are some 20 coastwide groups and they serve us as the formal mechanism for sport issues to be represented formally to and considered by DFO. An example in our neighbourhood are the chinook slot limit and reduced retention ops that occur in spring months, intending to protect Fraser 4-2 and 5-2 chinook that spawn in the Merritt/Nicola area.

There are meetings all over the province as well as main board meetings that assemble the individual chapters into one group for moving our business forward collectively. If you haven’t been to a meeting, you should go, as it is the forum for expressing concerns and looking for action from our representatives.


The next Victoria and Area Local SFAB Committee meeting will be held at the Esquimalt Anglers Lounge, 1101 Munro Street, Victoria on Thursday November 24th at 7:00 p.m. This is a good, central, good-parking option. Up for discussion are important local fisheries issues from this past season and seeking guidance from the local angling community about their wishes and concerns regarding next year’s fisheries. 

The agenda is as follows:

1. Fraser Chinook salmon management;
2. Halibut fishing and regulations;
3. Dungeness Crab allocation;
4. SARA - Yellow Eye Rockfish Recovery Plan;
5.South Coast and Main Board SFAB Meetings;
6. Recreational Vision Implementation;
7. Wild Salmon Policy;
8.  Pacific Salmon Treaty;
9. Local Salmon Enhancement; and,
10. Transport of Fish, after catching them.

The meeting is open to the public. 1101 Munro Street is the foot of Lampson Street in Esquimalt. Address your queries to Chris Bos, Victoria Chair: Phone - (778) 426-4141; Email -

Useful DFO people to contact for sport related issues are: Devona Adams, who will forward the Salmon Outlook for 2017 when it is available, typically in November:; for Fishery Notices contact: Kelly Binning - 604.666.3935; for Recreational Fisheries Info, contact: John Webb: North Coast, 250.627.3409; Brad Beaith: South Coast, 250.756.7190; Barbara Mueller: Fraser River/VCR, 604.666.2370; and Linda Stevens: BC Interior, 250.305.4004.

Nitinat, Renfrew and Cowichan Areas 

The meeting will be held Nov 17, 7 PM at the Valley Fish and Game Club, 6190 Mayo Rd., Lake Cowichan.

The agenda is as follows: 

1. Introductions and handouts
2. Nitinat and Port Renfrew area 2016 Chinook and Coho fisheries [Low Chinook catches, escapement to Nitinat and San Juan rivers and production targets of San Juan and Nitinat hatcheries for Chinook.]
3. Cowichan area Fishery and Roundtable discussions [Chinook and Coho escapement in Cowichan river]
4. Port Renfrew Salmon Enhancement Society [Chinook net pen project].
5. Shellfish/groundfish [Crab, Prawn, Halibut fisheries and rock fish restrictions].
6. DFO Enforcement report
7. Fish Transport regulations [ report from DFO hired contractor and SFAB response].
8. $30,000 budget cut to recreational fishery consultation process resulting in no in-person meeting this fall for South Coast SFAB. What is the cost of the consultation budget for Native, Commercial and Recreational sectors and did the recreational sector bear the brunt of the budget cut backs from the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans?
9. Motions:
1. Whereas fishing notice regulations in the Port Renfrew area need to become simplified, in order to be clear and understood by fisherman and not contradicting and confusing. Be it resolved: Fishing notification of "fin Fish closure and removal" should correspond with Wild Coho retention in San Juan Bay. e.g. When the fin fish closure comes off San Juan Bay the day after Labour Day the wild Coho retention should then open in the bay and not 7 or 8 days later.
2. Whereas military personnel have always protected our way of life and at sometimes with a very heavy cost to their lives and families. Be it resolved: All Canadian military service personnel and honorably discharged veterans Fishing license fees be reduced to that of a resident senior citizen.
10. Election of Chairman, alternate chair and Roundtable delegates.

Address your queries to Bob Gallaugher, Chair:

Of interest, if you check the Valley Fish and Game Club website - – you will find encouraging news about chinook. As of mid-October, 9,000 chinook had past the counting fence, and DFO authorized an in-river and bay fishery for coho. You will recall lean years when chinook numbers were much lower. I stood at Marie Canyon in October several years ago and the DFO sign said 1,068 chinook. Dismal. So the current number is welcome news. 

You will recall that the long-term number averaged 12,000 to 15,000 chinook, with a high of 25,000.
For the Nitinat, the early estimates are: 10,000 chinook; 10,000 coho (and some monsters among them); and, in commercial, aboriginal, sport, plus escapement a total of 1,000,000 chum. Compare this with the Fraser number that much crowing has been made over the 2,000,000 number. The claim was this was the highest number in some time. Memory tells me that the Fraser average is 1.5-to 2.0-million, although the numbers trended down in the years up to 2010, so it is not as generous as claimed.

From guide, Doug Lindores, at, for the Stamp system: 50,000 chinook (double that were forecast), with a 53 pound fish the winner in the Labour Day Derby (taken on a small Cookies and Cream spoon); 440,000 sockeye to the Sproat and Stamp (1 million in terminal saltwater); and, 30,000 coho.

Both Bamfield and Ucluelet are now good for winter chinook.