Monday, September 01, 2008

Commercial view on this season, Part 1

For some differing perspectives on how this summer's fishery was managed check out the commercial sector's claims from several articles in Prince Rupert's Northern View newspaper. These statements are very indicative of the type of rhetoric the commercial sector uses to push their positions and counter the conservation and sportfishing lobby.
We've added our own editorial comments (in blue) just to add some realism and to counter the assertions made by the commercial sector reps.
Enjoy. Part 2 to follow.

Fishermen frustrated by recommendations
By Brooke Ward - The Northern View
Published: July 29, 2008 11:00 PM
With returning stocks far exceeding the dismal predictions set out by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans earlier this year, one would think that the commercial fishing industry had weathered the worst of the tempest. But differing opinions with other sectors over issues such as harvest rates have been lending themselves to a newly brewing storm for the industry.
A July 17th letter to DFO from Greg Knox, Executive Director of SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, outlines three recommendations regarding commercial fishing, notably the need to implement short set/short net practice before the pre-established August 1 date and a request to limit the harvest rate to a maximum of 30 per cent, both suggestions infuriating the commercial industry. The 30% aggregate harvest rate is a recommendation of the Independant Science Review Panel.....Greg Knox or Skeena Wild didnt just pick a number out of the air.
“The fishermen are frustrated for two reasons,” said Joy Thorkelson on behalf of the UFAWU-CAW.“Number one, because their conditions of license say they don’t have to go to short sets until August 1 and yet they’re being made to do it a week early. And secondly because DFO is not living up to science. They’re caving to the pressure of back-door lobbyists and making it impossible to take advantage of the better than expected run.” DFO is living up to least a little bit...the exception is the weekly Canadian marine exploitation rate maxed out at 46.5% in the week July 22 - 28. This is not a sustainable harvest rate in our opinion. Gillnetters went to Selective Gillnetting on July 28...only four days earlier than the IFMP 'Fishing Plan', what an inconvenience for the fleet but no mention of trying to saving non-target species at all....If gillnets are to be continued to be allowed, and this topic should be a major one for debate, then Selective Measures such as short set/short net should be in place all season long in our opinion.
Emphasizing that the Skeena Independent Science Panel Report clearly indicated that there is not a Steelhead crisis, Thorkelson explained the catch-22 situation the commercial industry finds itself in with regards to the sports sector.The ISRP Report stated there was not enough information at present to determine whether there was a steelhead conservation issue with the early run steelhead. But, for the 'aggregate' stock they said no conservation concern appears to be present from analysing Tyee data. So, not exactly the blanket statement the commercial rep. makes here.

“When there is a large number of boats, the sports sector complains about the fleet size; when the fleet size is small they complain about the number of days fished. Fishing short sets/short nets is highly inefficient so we will have to be out there more days and it’s a real concern that we will not be reaching our allotment.” Commercial fishermen, especially gillnetters, just dont get it do they?? They totally dismiss any by-catch concerns of other valuable species like steelhead as just an allocation issue or just the cost of them doing their business. Their view comes across as a god given right to harvest fish in the most damaging manner available and screw everyone else. Reaching the almighty allotment is the only thing of any value....everything else is secondary. Remember, commercial fishermen dont own these fish...they belong to the general public of Canada.

And when it comes to the allotment, fishermen are also concerned that the DFO will be reducing the number of fish they should be catching. Let's hope DFO stands by their promises of a more precautionary approach with conservation based harvest rates for next season. Actually, let's not hope...let's make sure that DFO does keep their promises. And while they are at it, DFO can start the process to eliminate steelhead by-catch by the commercial fleet.

The Northern View


deanbc said...

Maybe its time that the people of Prince Rupert hear a different side of the story coming from NCSA. For example it would be very easy to take a counter point to some or even all of the claims made in the articles by Torkelson. Lets figure just how much income was lost based on an average cost per pound and compare that to the actual amount made and then do some of our own economic positioning. NCSA can address and counterpoint everything published in the these articles assuming the press there will give NCSA equal exposure. Its is amazing what people can speak, true or not, exaggerated or not and people listen and beleive what they hear. To suggest that kids will go without is absolutely absurd!

Changing opinion for the betterment of conservation is just as much changing the DFO views as it is in changing the public's views.

North Coast Steelhead Alliance said...

There is an economic study just finshing up apparently. It is also part of the process that brought us the ISRP Report.
Hopefully it will shed some light on both the commercial and recreational sector.