Monday, July 13, 2009

More Commercial lobbying 'perspective'
From the above commercial lobby website here is a form letter provided for its constituents to just 'sign' and send off to DFO Minister Gail Shea.
Note, they think 2008 was above average for steelhead.....hhmmnn....Wasnt there some kind of overestimate with Tyee in 2008 on the order of 36-37%...?? Looks like the commercial guys completely missed that point. Plus, they neglect to mention to the Minister that the Tyee overestimate allowed more commercial fishing than should have occurred. This exposed Skeena steelhead, especially the early run component, to unsustainably high exploitation rates in peak fishing times. The exact exploitation rates are currently unquantified, but they are readily accepted to be well above the old Skeena Watershed Committee ceilings of 38% and 24%, and quite possibly in the 50+ range for the early run. So, if the commercial sector thinks it is fine to KILL 50+% of the early run steelhead ,even in a supposed above average year, then you can easily see why we have problems with them.
Also, interesting to note they think the steelhead guides are running Skeena Wild...I'm sure the guides will find that humorous.
And overall, they seem to think watershed wide, multi-stakeholder negotiations/discussions on 'trade-offs' will magically bail them of out all their problems. As if when viewed in a greater context, gillnetting and marine commercial fishing has some ingrained, protected position in society that will automatically acknowledge their sector.
From our perspective, the trade-off is pretty clear: if it's a choice between 1.conserving stocks, 2. maintaining a robust sportfishing tourism industry...over an archaic, outdated, non-selective, negative impact generating, barely viable economically, method of resource extraction.....Guess which one we'll advocate choosing??? Correct, we would advocate for fish first, then respecting First Nations Charter Right food interests, then commercial and recreational activities which impact stocks the least but have the greatest returns socially and economically for society.
And for the record, the NCSA has never shied away from wanting to enter these 'trade-off' discussions or negotiations. Hopefully, the Skeena Watershed Initiative can eventually tackle these issues.
Complete form letter below. There are other interesting form letters at the site also.

Dear Minister Shea,
Re: Skeena IFMP

The Wild Salmon Policy and the Skeena Independent Science Review Panel recommend a watershed process to make tradeoffs between biological, economic, and social imperatives.

Neither the WSP nor the SISRP recommend any minimum escapement levels nor target escapement levels for individual Conservation Units. The recommendation is for a process that will use best science and the best knowledge of habitat, ecosystems and stock health as a basis for decision making. What level of exploitation and by whom should be made by the stakeholders in the area.

I am concerned that this year’s fishing plan on the Skeena was not made in the spirit or letter of either the Policy or the Panel Report. Instead, it appears that a decision was made for a stunning reduction in the Skeena sockeye commercial exploitation rate in a completely arbitrary process.

The George and Betty Moore Foundation has put much funding into the Skeena system with the view to expanding the already healthy Skeena steelhead fishery. They have created and funded a new “environmental” company called SkeenaWild from the local steelhead guide lobby group. SkeenaWild in 2008 wrote letters to the Minister under the guise of conservation which demanded that the gillnet fishery be shut down early - to protect steelhead - when it was clear that the steelhead run size was well above average. Their Executive Director and Staff penned a letter that was sent to you under the Watershed Watch Salmon Society letterhead a month ago demanding that the proposed sockeye exploitation rate, cut to 20%, be reduced further to 15%. SkeenaWild controls the reins to millions of Moore Foundation dollars. This money is now supplying the Department and the Skeena Fisheries Commission with funding for many DFO / Skeena Fisheries Commission projects. I cannot help but wonder if this has influenced the local DFO’s decision to cut the commercial harvests by 30%.

I am a strong believer in the Wild Salmon Policy and the process it sets out on how to determine what a healthy stock is and how to share this stock among watershed shareholders. I can only hope that you can bring some rationality to the Skeena debate by requiring science based, community-based decisions.


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