Friday, June 12, 2009

NCSA Letter Campaign to DFO Minister

As mentioned in an earlier post about the commercial sector providing form letters to constituents to forward to the DFO Minister, here is a short list of topics, issues, and items that concerned steelhead and sportfishing sector folks could add to any letters sent to DFO Minister Gail Shea to counter the commercial fishing industry rhetoric. We could be exhaustive on this topic, but just hitting the highlights ( or lowlights depending on your view) is sufficient.

In general:
-The socio-economic situation in Skeena has changed dramatically, the commercial fishery should no longer be considered the primary user group in managing the salmonid resource
-The overall value of the marine commercial sockeye fishery is only a small portion of the total value of Skeena salmon. For instance, the 2008 “Economic Dimensions of Skeena Watershed Salmonid Fisheries” report prepared for The Pacific Salmon Foundation shows in Table 70 on p. 107 that the Economic benefits of recreational fisheries outweigh the benefits of the marine commercial salmon fishery (all species) by well over 3:1.
-Your Department has completely ignored the economic importance of steelhead to upriver communities
-Allowing the continued bycatch of thousands of valuable Skeena steelhead is an incredibly wasteful practise not reflective of modern fisheries management
-Your Department has done nothing to lessen the negative impacts of the commercial fishery on valuable Skeena steelhead
-Your Department proclaims progressive fishing management to the world markets via the MSC Certification process, yet you ignore steelhead bycatch, depressed wild sockeye stocks are not recovering, chum salmon are at historic lows, First Nations food rights are infringed, and enforcement and compliance with selective measures in commercial fishing is lax.
-The Department's own Conservation & Protection division admits to being unable to fulfill its mandate: From the 2008 North Coast Enforcement Season Review: " The current detachment strength is a 20-percent reduction from the previous 10-officer organization. The management of most of the detachment's fisheries has become increasingly more complex in recent years. This has resulted in an inability to address many issues/fisheries, i.e. proper auditing and enforcement actions regarding logbook/fish slip compliance in salmon troll and gillnet fisheries."
-All these issues lead to one conclusion: the current Skeena sockeye fishery is not truly sustainable....and therefore should not be considered for Certification by international certification groups.
-Commercial fishing interests are satisfied with depressed stocks remaining depressed, including steelhead, we find this is completely unacceptable
-Jobs and conservation are compatible so long as fish capture and location are added to the management matrix. Shifting the majority of the sockeye catch from the marine environment to inland and terminal locations will assist in job creation, will assist in protecting weak wild sockeye stocks, and help address the steelhead bycatch issue.

2009 Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (Fishing Plan) specific:

-From a lack of specifics in the IFMP, your Department appears unconcerned, disinterested, and indifferent towards the Skeena steelhead bycatch issue
-The IFMP presents a status quo with regard to steelhead management in Skeena, possibly even moving backwards by not commiting to using the few selective fishing measures available to DFO managers
-A major flaw in the IFMP is the lack of input from the Provincial Ministry of Environment on steelhead objectives and concerns. This is a most noticeable and glaring omission. The steelhead resource is supposed to be co-managed by both agencies, DFO and MOE, yet there is absolutely no mention of Provincial steelhead concerns or objectives.
-Another major flaw in the IFMP is the process of determining the sockeye exploitation rate. Your Department has again managed the Skeena fishery in an "ass-backwards" manner by coming up with a politically expedient overall sockeye exploitation rate and then figuring out the impacts of this on depressed wild sockeye stocks.

-It would seem more prudent to determine what the depressed wild sockeye stocks require to rebuild and then working back from this point.
-The manner in which DFO has developed the IFMP continues to reflect the bias towards commercial extraction rather than conservation.
-The DFO hierarchy for management is: 1. Conservation 2. First Nations FSC (Food, Social, Ceremonial) 3. Sportfishing-Commercial equally
-The 2009 IFMP does not reflect the DFO's own management hierarchy
-The IFMP does not reflect the DFO's own policies, such as The Selective Fishing Policy, May 1999; The Wild Salmon Policy, 2005

You can reach DFO Minister Shea via the contact info below.
The Honourable Gail Shea
House of Commons
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Parliament Buildings, Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0A6

If you chose to e-mail the Minister why not 'cc' it to these folks also:
Paul Sprout, Regional Director General, Pacific Region

Susan Farlinger, Regional Director, Fisheries and Aquaculture Branch
Seigi Kriegl, Area Director, North Coast
David Einarson, Area Chief, Resource Management, North Coast
Barry Penner, Minister of Environment, Province of BC
Al Martin, Executive Director, Fish, Wildlife, and Ecosystems, Min. of Env.

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