Monday, June 29, 2009

The DFO approach to fishery management

Far be it for us layfolk to question the fishery scientists managing our fisheries nowadays, but when you examine the 2009 IFMP, or Fishing Plan, you really have to question the basics.
For example, if you were organising a conservation based fishing plan you might follow this basic order:
1. Determine the exploitation rates required to rebuild severely depressed sockeye stocks ( like Kitwanga river, Nanika river, or Slamgeesh river sockeye)

2. Determine the weekly harvest rates required to achieve this objective

3. Calculate the aggregate sockeye exploitation rate target

4. Manage the fishery to achieve the weekly harvest rates

But what DFO has done is more along the lines of:

1. Made a decision as to what they feel is a politically acceptable aggregate sockeye exploitation rate

2. Calculated the weekly harvest rates necessary to achieve the aggregate target

3. Described the impact on severely depressed sockeye stocks

4. Explicitly set out in the Draft 2009 IFMP that the annual exploitation rate is the primary – and only – management objective,” The weekly harvest rates are merely a guide to deliver the desired annual exploitation rate, not the objective itself. In many cases, any given weekly target harvest rate may either be exceeded or not achieved. This will be made up for in subsequent weeks, to ensure the annual exploitation rate objective is achieved.” (p.52, Draft 2009 IFMP)

Notice the slight difference in approaches? DFO obviously adheres to the "Ass-Backwards" School of Fishery Management: catch the fish first, then figure out the damages to weak stocks. And, as we know all too well, steelhead really dont even enter the picture in this sockeye driven management regime.

More on harvest rates to come.

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