Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Commercial lobbying and letter writing campaign

Here's some more info from the commercial lobbyists to their constituents giving a season update and trying to get the troops all riled up for a letter writing campaign.
You can tell they are pretty concerned with how this whole Skeena fishery is shaping up. From their perspective recent management changes and this season's proposed sockeye reductions appear to be the end of the (their) world.
Interesting to note how they are trying to get more organised, even forming a group....the Sustainable Marine Fisheries and Communities Alliance. This group has started lobbying the DFO by meeting twice with the head of North Coast Mr Seigi Kriegl; writing letters to the Minister of DFO Gail Shea; asking for the Minister to come to Prince Rupert for a meeting.

Their group title really says it all doesnt it? So long as the fishery is 'sustainable for the marine fishery and coastal communities they are fine....They conveniently forget this is a watershed wide fishery issue with upriver communties wanting to be 'sustainable' also. And obviously, their definition of sustainable is totally different from anyone elses in the watershed.
They paint the NCSA as the enemy "...up against the usual groups"...but the writer mistakenly refers to us as the Steelhead Society. They say we are "..demanding they cut back on steelhead interceptions..." while we thought we were asking for steelhead interception to be eliminated which is quite different.

This type of verbiage really sums up their whole approach with regard to depressed fish stocks:
DFO says that it is ocean survivals that are driving the downward trajectory and a piddly cut like 10% won't have much affect. So a 30% cut from last year (40% cut from 2002 exploitation rates), they say, might be big enough to see an affect. They want to change the "trajectory".

Congratulations to DFO for wanting to 'change the trajectory' of depressed stocks. Yet, here the commercial reps are complaining about DFO wanting to try and change the downward trend for weak salmon stocks. As weve seen in other recent communications from the commercial sector they have absolutely no problem with these depressed stocks staying depressed. They assert any effort to rebuild fish stocks on the backs of commercial fishermen will be fought aggressively.
Amazingly, the commercial sector repeatedly misses ( or purposely forgets) the most basic point that they have the biggest impact on fish stocks.


Here is what they are asking from their constituents:
This is the Minister's address. Please write respectfully and talk about some (or all) of the following:
-how badly this will impact you
-DFO did not follow the WSP in building a plan for the watershed
-DFO used a fulty model for consultations on ER's but then, when it was corrected, discarded it and imposed a 30% cut without any explanantion to the commercial sector
-The Skeena Independant Science Review did not call for any cuts...it said runs were very low but stable. The ISRP called for a watershed process to make the tradeoffs between biological, social, and economic issues (just like the Wild Salmon Policy does in Section 4)
-Please come to meet us in Prince Rupert before July
-Please do not implement these very large and serious cuts

The inward looking nature of all their rhetoric reflects a total lack of concern for the resource or other users or communities. Notice there is no mention of the welfare of the resource...no mention of upriver First Nations groups unable to fulfill their FSC rights....no mention of finding ways to stop intercepting steelhead...The only issues they are concerned with is self centered. Surely, commercial fishermen couldnt forget the Atlantic cod management fiasco so quickly could they? DFO almost drove the cod into extinction by managing for coastal communities and jobs in Newfoundland. Surely we can learn from those mistakes and do better on our coast?

In the next post, we'll present some points that concerned steelhead advocates can use in their letters to DFO Minister Shea to counter the commercial sector's claims.

Read the full commercial sector update here:


Area C Harvest Committee Report:

Hi everyone - I have been putting this news off as long as I could because we were hoping that we could change DFO's fishing plan. However, it has gone to the Minister now and I believe that if we want to change the fish plan we need to act now in a letter writing campaign.
First, here is the plan:
Skeena: Spring salmon first opening Friday, June 12th 4:30 am Second: Friday, June 19th. (NOT YET CONFIRMED)
Nass: Sockeye opening: June 16th (NOT YET CONFIRMED BUT BELIEVED TO BE TRUE)

200,000 Commercial TAC. The gillnet share will be 150,000 (75%)

New chum boundary 1/2 mile line off of Wales Is. and Tracy Bay. Live chum to be released - and possible non-retention

Non-retention of coho to start

Skeena: Sockeye opening: NOT YET SET - LIKELY in 2ND WEEK JULY
2 Million run size --- Exploitation rate reduction of 30%
400,000 commercial TAC. The gillnet share will be 300,000 (75%)
This sockeye cut is not a one time deal. The Exploitation Rate was 33% from 1994 - 2002; then 30% from 2003-2008; now it is 20%
This 20% ER is a policy decision to rebuild wild sockeye stocks which DFO say are on a downward trajectory that, for the most part, does not have to do with fishing but has to do with ocean survivals. This means a 400,000 total net Skeena Sockeye catch on a 2 m run. Last year the net fleet would have caught 600,000 on a 2m run.
This is a 200,000 fish cut.

Non-retention of chum (likely - maybe / maybe not)
Non-retention of coho
Non-retention of steelhead
Pinks - large return expected but DFO has no intentions of letting gillnets fish in August to harvest them as that would mean having to return coho, steelhead, chum and sockeye back to the ocean.
Area 6 Chums: Kitimat Hatchery chum: will likely open July 13 in Douglas Channel
Area 7 Chums: Likely open on July 27 Non retention of coho (to start and maaaaaybe can retain if lots show up)
Area 8: Bella Coola Spring opening: June 1
Chum: Earliest June 29 Non retention of coho (to start and maaaaaybe can retain if lots show up)

WHAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING TO FIGHT THIS TERRIBLE SKEENA SITUATION:
An Alliance of 7 North Coast First Nations' Governments and 3 municipal governments plus Area C Harvest Committee, the Native Brotherhood, the Northern Native Fishing Corporation and the UFAWU-CAW was created last May. We have managed to work together for the past year and have put together a Vision document that we will be talking this summer.
This Alliance (called the Sustainable Marine Fisheries and Communities Alliance - SMFCA) has now met twice with Siegi Kriegl - the head of DFO North Coast to discuss the fish plan. Leaders of all 7 First Nations and 3 municiple governments showed up plus Henry Clifton (Brotherhood and Area C Rep) Mabel Mazurek (NNFC and Area C Rep) and Joy Thorkelson (Union and Area C rep) to protest these changes to our fishing harvest rates. Don Roberts (Area C Rep) was there as Chief Councillor of Kitsumkalum First Nation.
Every North Coast Band has written to Mr. Kriegl saying that they were not Consulted on these changes and that they will have tremendous economic and social impacts on their communities. The municipal governments have done the same. SMFCA has also written a letter signed by all 10 Governments to the Minister of Fisheries asking that the Minister not implement the changes and also come to Prince Rupert before the end of June to meet with us.
Of course, we are up against the usual groups: Steelhead society and Province are demanding that we cut back on our steelhead interceptions (using short sets and short nets all season). Greg Taylor and the SkeenaWild sports-enviro group are demanding that DFO cut the sockeye Exploitation Rate even further (down to 15% or to 300,000 total catch with 225,000 for gillnets). The Skeena Fisheries Commission are also asking for further cuts to the commercial fleet's catch.
DFO cannot back up its demand for a cut this size. They have 2 years of poor returns to some wild stocks, but they have also had increased in-rivmixed stock fishing during this time. DFO says that it is ocean survivals that are driving the downward trajectory and a piddly cut like 10% won't have much affect. So a 30% cut from last year (40% cut from 2002 exploitation rates), they say, might be big enough to see an affect. They want to change the "trajectory".
Right now, DFO's line is that they cannot tell us what an acceptable harvest rate is for Kitwanga, Nanika, and they are not sure of the timing of some of the other smaller stocks that they want to protect. Earlier (3 weeks ago) they gave us a model (spreadsheet) to work on to see what the impacts would be on Nanika and Kitwanga exploitation rates. The model was wrong - the impacts of Alaska and Inland Food Fish were wrong - and so Don Roberts and Kitsumkalum First Nation asked Dr. Karl English (from LGL, a fisheries management consultant firm) to fix the model. He did, and clearly we could meet the DFO exploitation rate limits that DFO had given us by adjusting our fishing days - with a Exploitation rate of 29% - which would have given us a net catch close to 600,000.
The DFO now say that they don't really have exploitation rate limits for Kitwanga and Nanika - it is the trajectory that is what they are concerned about. So the model goes out the window and we are back to the 30% cut to change the trajectory.
The Wild Salmon Policy says that DFO is not supposed to do these things unilaterally. They are supposed to have a 'watershed committee made up of First Nations and stakeholders". So the Skeena Watershed Committee II got reconsitituted. We have been attending meetings religously and asked the group if they would agree to a process that would (as it says in the Wild Salmon Policy and what the Skeena Independent Science Review Panels said last year) weigh biological, social and economic benefits of any cutbacks. Well, surprise surprise, the SWC II agreed in principle but then absolutely found anything else to put on the agenda so that they would not have to discuss tradeoffs between 'biological, social and economic' affects of fish management on the Skeena.
So this lets DFO act uni-laterally and allows the sports groups et al to lobby against us.
So.... Fishermen have to get into gear. YOU MUST SPEND AN HOUR WRITING A LETTER TO THE MINISTER OF FISHERIES. I am including the letter we wrote Dave Einarson and the letter we wrote to the Minister.
Some fishermen have created a Commercial Fishermen's site and they may have information you can use posted there: www.com-fishaction.com
This is the Minister's address. Please write respectfully and talk about some (or all) of the following:
how badly this will impact you
DFO did not follow the WSP in building a plan for the watershed
DFO used a faulty model for consultations on ERs but then, when it was corrected, discarded it and imposed the 30% cut without any explanation to the commercial sector
The Skeena Independent Science Review did not call for any cuts - said runs were very low but stable. The Independent Scientists called for a watershed process to make the tradeoffs between biological, social and economic issues (just like the Wild Salmon Policy does in Section 4)
Please come to meet us in Prince Rupert before July
Please do not implement these very large and serious cuts.
And in case you are confused: on a run of 2 million 33% exploitation rate up to 2002 = 660,000 catch
2003 - 10% cut to exploitation rate = 30%
30% exploitation rate 2003 - 2008 = 600,000 catch
2009 - 30% cut to exploitation rate = 20%
20% exploitation rate 2009 = 400,000 catch
Between 2002 ( 660,000 catch) and 2009 (400,000 catch) we have had a 40% reduction
The Honourable Gail Shea
House of Commons
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Parliament Buildings, Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0A6

Min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

1 comment:

Steve said...

"... runs were very low but stable" what an amazing piece of BS.