Thursday, July 15, 2010

Precautionary Approach: Theory vs. Practise

So, the Dept. announced today it has to shut down the commercial fisheries for sockeye on the north coast as run estimates are being downgraded.
After 8 gillnet and 2 seine openings already in Nass Area 3, the allowable catch might have been met. Only 1 gillnet opening was sanctioned in Skeena Area 4.

We mentioned the precautionary approach in our previous post and just to prove we didnt make that phrase up, we found it several times in the IFMP ( Integrated Fisheries Management Plan)for the North Coast. See below highlighted in red. The IFMP is basically the roadmap the Manager follows in his management of the fishery.

We didnt go through the entire 137 page document, but figured a couple of mentions in the front of the document should suffice for managers to get the general idea about using precaution.

And given the current state of fish stocks in BC, in addition to last years low returns both south and north, you would think the Dept. responsible for managing and conserving our salmon would take a little of their own verbiage to heart...and just use a smidgen of some common sense precaution.
Rather than jump on the first minor bump of fish in a run estimate, possibly waiting until firmer numbers are showing before unleashing the commercial fleets might be the more prudent response. It's easy to be critical with 20/20 hindsight, but this is just too obvious an example of a poor way to do things.

From the DFO document North Coast Salmon IFMP:
Departmental policy development related to the management of fisheries is guided by a range of considerations that include legislated mandates, judicial guidance and international and domestic commitments that promote biodiversity and a precautionary, ecosystem-based approach to the management of marine resources. Each of the policies were developed with considerable consultation from all those with an interest in salmon management. While the policies themselves are not subject to annual changes, implementation details are continually refined where there is general support. page 12

Management of a natural resource like salmon has a number of inherent risks. Uncertain forecasting, environmental and biological variability as well as changes in harvester behaviour all add risks that can threaten conservation. Accordingly, management actions will be precautionary and risks will be specifically evaluated. Conservation of salmon stocks is the best approach to reduce risk of long term negative impacts to these stocks and the social and economic values that are derived from them. page 14


Den said...

This is a bit of a stretch but since we are talking theory/practice how about your views on the Tyee test/kill fishery and its accuracy and revelance to the management of stocks.

North Coast Steelhead Alliance said...

Dont totally get what you are asking....If you mean why we show so much Tyee information and graphs is because Tyee is the 'only show in town'. Tyee is the tool the Dept relies on for important management decisions, such as allowing commercial openings.
We criticize Tyee all the time. It has numerous deficiencies and has a tendency to over-estimate returns..These facts are well known.
In this current situation, the Tyee sox numbers used to justify opening a commercial fishery in Skeena were not overwhelming by any stretch.
So, our point was: where is the dose of precaution around these numbers? If the Dept KNOWS about the failings of Tyee as an estimating device, why do they not add more precaution to their management?
As for Tyee, it is used because it is the only tool they...It is used because it has been doing the same thing at the same place since 1954 so the Dept feels it must be off some use...even as a rough guide to whats going on with returns.
Remember, Tyee sockeye estimates are not verified until months after the season...when Babine fence counts are completed. Again, this is where some prudence in management should be used.

if that doesnt reply to your question....ask again.