Thursday, March 01, 2012

New Website LIVE

Big News: Our new website is LIVE and ready to go.
It can be found here at:

The new site has a built in Blog with all the old posts etc migrated over to it. We will no longer be using this blog, but will keep it alive for several months during a transition period. Please use the new site Blog for comments etc. Comments can also be made on our new Facebook page NCSA Facebook page
We are still tinkering with final details on the new site so please bear wth us as we work out any kinks.
Hope you all like the new site and find it useful in our fight for steelhead.
Look out DFO here we come reloaded and reinvigorated!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New NCSA Website coming soon!!

Just a heads up for folks: our website rebuild is almost complete. The new site combines this blog with the old main NCSA site in a spiffy new package.

We will keep you posted as soon as we go live


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

DFO Draft Policy on Bycatch

There is a Draft Policy on Bycatch coming from DFO. It can be seen here.
Our response is copied below.
Feedback is accepted until Feb.29 at Consultations@DFO-MPO.GC.CA

DFO Discussions
Fisheries & Oceans Canada
13th Floor North
200 Kent Street, Mail Station 13N159
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6

RE: Draft Policy Framework on Managing Bycatch and Discards
The North Coast Steelhead Alliance is a group committed to securing the escapement of wild steelhead in sufficient numbers to sustain healthy wild steelhead stocks and a robust sport fishery in northwestern British Columbia. The NCSA is dedicated to working with all levels of government, industry, community and stakeholder groups to preserve Skeena steelhead.

Our submission today will focus on the issue of interception of Skeena steelhead by commercial fisheries and how it relates to the Draft Policy on Managing Bycatch and Discards.

By far the biggest problem we have this document is the overarching consideration that commercial fisheries that inflict these bycatch/discard damages take precedence over and above everything else. This document is on fishery bycatch and discards, written by the Department of Fisheries, whose role is to facilitate commercial fishing activity. It seems zero consideration has been given to not sanctioning the fisheries in the first place if impacts are too negative or the impacts outweigh the benefits. It appears commercial activity clearly dominates and actually skews the Department's consideration of what is the best use of fisheries resources for Canadian society, when in many cases this is just not true anymore, such as with Skeena steelhead.

Moreover, while Conservation is supposed to be the prime management directive, the Department completely misinterprets one key definition of conservation: that being 'not to waste'. In the Skeena example, this equates to the Department allowing and even facilitating the killing of large percentages of the yearly returns of very valuable Skeena summer run steelhead in order to allow barely viable gillnet fisheries to occur. This is a form of social welfare, not fishery management, carried out on the backs of both Skeena steelhead themselves and the upriver sportfishery tourism industry that relies on them.

Skeena steelhead are worth literally thousands of dollar each to the in-river sportfishing tourism industry that has grown over the last 30 years to out-contribute the commercial fishery in gross income to the overall economy of the region. (* Blewitt; 2008 Economic Dimensions of the Skeena Watershed Salmonid Fisheries).
Why are we as a society allowing completely non-selective gillnet fisheries, those that have no hope of minimising or ameliorating their impacts on bycatch, to continue to inflict such negative impacts on a species and a successful, green industry that relies on them?
How does your Draft Policy answer those types of questions and concerns? The following passage from the 'Guiding Principles' section is one of few to mention socio-economic benefits and relative contributions the resource makes to Canadian society, yet we submit this is sheer lip service to any other use other than commercial fishing exploitation. We come to this belief from decades of seeing and experiencing the results of commercial fishing bycatch on our valuable steelhead. Consistently, Skeena steelhead come out on the bottom of management decisions regarding commercial fisheries and we see no reason for any of that to change within this new Draft Policy.
The fishery is a common property resource to be managed for the benefit of all Canadians, consistent with conservation objectives, the constitutional protection afforded Aboriginal and treaty rights, and the relative contributions that various uses of the resource make to Canadian society, including socio-economic benefits to communities.

Year after year, we see the Department make the value judgement that allowing non-selective gillnet fisheries, which kill thousands of valuable Skeena steelhead, is an acceptable trade-off. Even when confronted with hard economic data from truly independent sources which clearly state the economic disparity between the two activities, the Department blatantly ignores the information, the impacts, and allows the bycatch killing to continue. Where in this Draft Policy is any verbiage to suggest this attitude from the Department will change?
Where in your Draft Policy is there verbiage which allows a fulsome discussion of the cost-benefit considerations of allowing various fisheries? Where is the Policy to guide Managers on reaching socio-economic decisions where commercial fishing is not the best use of the public's fishery resources?
The Department's history of trying to manage the bycatch/discard issue of non-selective gillnetting by dressing up gillnets in short length forms, short set lengths, mesh size configurations, and on and on ad nuaseum are truly pathetic attempts to keep an outdated and outmoded method of fish capture alive at the great expense of valuable steelhead and sportfishery businesses that rely on them.
We dont beleive new policy papers like this one will deal with the core issues of Skeena steelhead bycatch. The root causes are the systemic, built-in bias of a bureaucratic department whose sole function it seems is to facilitate commercial fishing at any cost. Add to that industry bias, a geographic bias of basing the Department's office in the chronically depressed town that relies heavily on commercial fishing and shoreworker jobs and you have a recipe that no new Policy will overcome with regard to fairly managing the Skeena steelhead issue.
We have just learned this Draft Policy available on-line, with feedback and comments invited until the end of February, has actually already been re-written and accepted. This just typifies the Department's approach to new Policy; first, the Policy itself is completely lacking, and second, your Department had already written the real final document without considering any public input.
And finally, we would sum up this Draft Policy as just one more in a long line of Departmental verbiage that will be ignored by Managers on the north coast as they continue to do whatever they want in terms of allowing non-selective fisheries to continue. This Bycatch Policy will join the Wild Salmon Policy; the Selective Fishing Policy, and dozens of other DFO policies that sit on shelves completely ignored by north coast fishery managers. We wonder how much public funding was wasted in this paper process exercise when very little, if any, benefit to Skeena steelhead will reach the water?
Keith Douglas
North Coast Steelhead Alliance
Smithers, BC


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

News release on Alaskan fisheries and MSC

Interesting news release here regarding the MSC Certification of Alaskan fisheries.

We know southeastern Alaskan fisheries are responsible for intercepting large numbers of BC bound salmon and steelhead every year.  This is good work by these groups in questioning the blanket Certification of their fisheries as sustainable by MSC without even doing any follow-up work.

Seems to be more proof that the whole fishery 'certification' process is just a consumer marketing ploy rather than a process to achieve truly sustainable fisheries.

Canadian Conservationists Challenge “Unsustainable” Alaskan Salmon Fisheries

Posted by Trish Hall on

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – Jan. 11, 2012) - Three British Columbian conservation groups are taking aim at Alaskan salmon fisheries that are damaging BC fish stocks and violating conditions of the Marine Stewardship Council’s eco-certification.
Raincoast Conservation Foundation, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, and Watershed Watch Salmon Society today said they would challenge the current recertification of these fisheries by the MSC – the world’s foremost eco-certification label for sustainable fisheries. The groups cite interception of Canadian-bound salmon and steelhead from at-risk populations as a key concern, along with “reckless” ocean-ranching practices – a form of fish farming not practiced in BC.
Eleven years ago, BC marine conservationists objected strongly to Alaskan salmon fisheries being given blanket eco-certification by the MSC.
“It was highly irresponsible,” said Aaron Hill, a biologist with Watershed Watch. “We were told that it would be okay because the fishery would have to meet several conditions for improvement in order to retain the certification, but now a recent surveillance audit by the MSC concedes that as many as 19 conditions of the certification have not yet been met. The Alaskans have had a over a decade to get their act together.”
“Some Alaskan fisheries, like Bristol Bay, are among the best-managed salmon fisheries in the world,” said Greg Knox, Executive Director of the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, “But Alaskan fishery managers are not being nearly cautious enough with their harvest of Canadian wild salmon populations, including sockeye and chum from the Nass and Skeena Rivers in northwest BC, and Vancouver Island chinook salmon.”
The conservation concerns were announced prior to Pacific Salmon Treaty meetings between Canada and the United States this week in Portland, Oregon. The Treaty is meant to ensure that neither country over-fishes the other’s salmon stocks, but the conservation groups claim the Canadian federal government is not doing enough to protect at-risk salmon stocks from being overfished as they migrate through Alaskan waters to their natal streams in BC and the Yukon.
The groups also say Ottawa is turning a blind eye to Alaskan ocean-ranching operations that every year flood the North Pacific ocean with billions of farm-raised salmon which compete with wild Canadian salmon for limited food supplies.
“Consumers should reasonably expect the MSC to enforce their own eco-certification, and Canadians should expect their government to protect their salmon from foreign over-harvest,” stated Mr. Hill. “We hope that some public attention to this problem will prod our government, and the MSC will step up and help us push for some much-needed reforms in Alaskan fisheries management.”

Contact Information

Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Aaron Hill
SkeenaWild Conservation Trust
Greg Knox
Raincoast Conservation Foundation
Chris Genovali
1-250-655-1229 ext. 225


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Editorial on Fraser Salmon and DFO

Here is an example synopsis of the current situation down on the Fraser system regarding sockeye salmon management and DFO by Dr craig Orr of Watershed watch.

Just substitute Skeena for Fraser and all the same criticism applies. Again, the call...actually the public DEMAND for the federal government to reform DFO is loud and clear.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Salmongate....? DFO caught in a mess

Check out The Salmon Guy blog for interesting posts on the information coming out of the Cohen Commission right now. It is becoming more apparent DFO was not completely truthful in dealing with this salmon virus issue.

Also a story on the Globe & Mail about DFO intimidating scientists.

For anyone with experience dealing DFO on Skeena issue this wont come as any surprise at all. DFO is the ultimate example of: "...were not lying...were just not telling you the whole truth..."

And after reading Bob Hooton's Skeena Steelhead book, we could have our own SteelheadGate. As Hooton presents numerous examples of DFO blatant disregard for steelhead.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Editorial on DFO by the Courier-Islander

Interesting editorial from the Courier-Islander regarding DFO:
We tend to agree with the writer, this is a good time to shake up DFO completely. This line is classic: The ministry has become nothing but a laughing stock, a stand up comedian on the world stage of fisheries management.

The shores of malfeasance

Editorial, Courier-Islander

Published: Friday, December 16, 2011
One would wonder how the Department of Fisheries and Oceans could hand out layoff notices to 200 scientists at such a critical time. But, then again, it only seems natural. Natural in that DFO has long since been changed from a protector and nurturer of things oceanic, to a simply oligarchic political poison.
It has been run by the few at the top who know more about boot licking than fisheries. The chosen few have made decisions not on common sense, but on puerile and punitive whims. The ministry has become nothing but a laughing stock, a stand up comedian on the world stage of fisheries management.
One of the most vital commissions in the history of west coast fisheries is going to be wrapping up soon and thereafter produce a report that won't say everything is fine. Everyone knows it will be harsh, it will point fingers and, hopefully, give some direction to solve this sorry saga. And a DFO with 200 fewer scientists won't be able to handle it. Maybe, this will be DFO's escape clause.
But there is a solution, even without waiting to consider the Cohen commission's findings. Take the bottom 80 per cent of the employees of DFO and let them manage the place. Or better yet, give complete and total control of our west coast fisheries to the province.
Cutting 200 jobs for fisheries scientists is an easy thing to do if you live in Ottawa. Managing it properly isn't.
We need to follow the state of Alaska and take back decisions on our fisheries, the jobs it creates, the natural wealth it hands us and the better world it makes.
Alaskans don't listen to Washington when it comes to cleaning their fish. So why should we listen to Ottawa, a bureaucracy that is only interested in cutting out the heart and letting the carcass rot on the shores of malfeasance.
© Campbell River Courier-Islander 2011