Wednesday, July 23, 2008

NCSA Letter to DFO Managers

Here is a letter we just sent to Managers at DFO North Coast and cc'd to senior DFO staff in Vancouver. It is indicative of the type of lobbying we do in pushing for change in the Skeena fishery and protecting our valuable steelhead. Hope you find it of interest.

Dear sirs,
We are writing to wholeheartedly endorse the letter and sentiments put forth by the Skeena Wild group to Paul Sprout of which you received a copy of yesterday.

We would like to make our NCSA position on the unfolding commercial fishery clear to the fishery managers. We feel the high exploitation rates that started last week and will more than likely continue this week to be totally unsustainable and counter to the direction of talks surrounding the fishery. At one point, on the 19th July the exploitation rate for that point in the week was 47%.

We feel it is disingenuous of DFO to proclaim a conservation ethic with a reduction in overall harvest rate, as per the ISRP Report, and yet be poised to allow exploitation rates of possibly 50% and more during these peak weeks coming up. The 25% season 'average' harvest rate sounds quite conservative, but in a compressed fishing season it can only be achieved by allowing extremely high rates during the peak weeks.

These extremely high rates, as usual, are totally oriented to what the returning, mostly enhanced, sockeye stock can withstand. Furthermore, any impacts on steelhead and weak wild sockeye stocks such as Kitwanga will only be calculated after the fact. Moreover, this peak commercial effort, as usual, coincides with peak steelhead and weak sockeye stock runs.....and absolutely nothing is being done to about it. This is totally unacceptable in our opinion. We feel DFO is managing in a fashion that generated the furor in conservation groups that got us to this point in the first place.

And with the Skeena Management Model discredited how does DFO even calculate the rough impacts on our steelhead runs. When would we know when the steelhead exploitation rate ceilings were met or surpassed? From our research and extrapolation, the commercial gillnet openings on the 14,15th July impacted approximately 2000 steelhead with high associated mortality rates.

Given these indicators, we feel it is business as usual for DFO North Coast. While DFO keeps conservation groups placated with talk of change and engaged in lengthy paper pushing process the commercial fleet pounds away. They are still fishing unselectively for the most not have good compliance with the variety of selective regulations....and still negatively impact depressed wild sockeye, chum, and coho stocks and of course valuable steelhead.

This is the crux period of the season coming up and it appears DFO thinks it has free reign to do what they want. And it looks like they want to again focus on maximizing the catch of enhanced sockeye to the detriment of all other stocks and user groups....Same old, same old.....enhanced sockeye tunnel vision.

We want to see immediate action on implementing measures aimed at ameliorating the effects of the commercial fleet on steelhead and weak salmon stocks. If it means not meeting the predetermined, totally arbitrary harvest rates for enhanced sockeye, then so be it.

Additionally, we would like to go one step further than the Skeena Wild letter and state that DFO North Coast are hereby put on public notice that any excessive commercial fishing management action, that begins to resemble the 2006 season, will be met with strong resistance. Our group will, upon seeing management actions that resemble the 2006 excesses, set in motion public lobbying efforts that meet or exceed our 2006 efforts.

And lastly, please be assured our group will exhaust every avenue, including any civil legal avenues available to us, in order to avert a repeat of the events in 2006.
Keith Douglas
North Coast Steelhead Alliance

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Letter.
Well written and strongly to the Point.
Thx for your efforts, sir!

Greg Connolly