How many endangered Chinook salmon should be killed in fisheries? And how many endangered Chinook salmon are actually killed in fisheries? Answering these questions about endangered fish is job number one of any credible, modern fisheries management agency anywhere in the world.
Unfortunately, DFO is not abiding by United Nations agreements and Canada’s own national policies under the Sustainable Fisheries Framework, which require DFO to develop recovery targets for endangered fish popuations and a monitoring regime to determine if the targets are being achieved. When it comes to salmon, DFO refuses to implement the monitoring, management, and assessments they recognize as necessary if they are to answer these questions.
Before the 2019 fishing season, in response to many Fraser Chinook populations being listed as endangered, and recognizing that these same fish are also critical to the recovery of Southern Resident Killer Whales; the Minister set a 5% total mortality cap on these endangered Chinook. This was meant to be an interim measure until rebuilding targets were finalized.
However, when planning began for the 2020 fishing season, Watershed Watch and our allies asked DFO the obvious question: what were the total mortalities on Fraser Chinook populations in 2019? “We don’t know. We don’t have the necessary information,” was the response of DFO’s lead manager, Jeff Grout.
So here we were left, being asked to provide advice on planning the 2020 season, not knowing if the 2019 management measures achieved the 5% cap set by the Minister.
To try to tackle this impossible situation, Watershed Watch Salmon Society partnered with Coastland Research to develop a model using DFO’s Chinook catch, release, and genetic data to estimate how many endangered Chinook were killed in 2019, and identify what could be done to make these estimates easier and more transparent going forward.
We estimated that the Minister’s maximum mortality directive was exceeded by 2.5 times in 2019. We also recommended raising the recreational industry’s catch, compliance, release mortality, and genetic stock monitoring requirements up to international standards, and to what is often required of the commercial fishery. DFO can not responsibly manage these fisheries if they don’t know how many fish are being caught from these endangered populations, whether fishers are following the rules and how many of these endangered fish are surviving after being caught and released.
After months of work by First Nations and our conservation allies, Watershed Watch’s results and recommendations were mostly accepted by DFO managers, but they have yet to be implemented
Recovery of both Chinook and orcas will be more difficult, if not impossible, until the Minister does what is required of her by Canada’s new Fisheries Act and national policies. Endangered Chinook will likely be once again overfished this year relative to conservation objectives. If she wants to achieve her objectives, the minister must insist that her managers implement the necessary catch and release, compliance, and genetic stock monitoring measures. Anything less is likely to fail.
As you read this, the Minister is making her decision on how fisheries impacting endangered Chinook will be managed in 2020 without DFO managers providing her answers to those two essential questions: How many endangered Chinook salmon should be killed in fisheries? And how many actually are?
But you can answer the first question. Write to the Minister (Min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca) and tell her that until final decisions are made as to how many endangered Chinook should be, and are, killed in fisheries, she should require that the 5% total mortality cap remain in place for 2020 and that verifiable monitoring be required of all fisheries to ensure it is achieved.
A manageable solution to the problem is to bring the out of control pinniped populations back under control ( note I stress, bring back under control, that is back to historical levels) and not total take out the populations. 4 major studies have shown that pinnipeds in the Salish Sea consume up to 85% of chinook,coho and steelhead smolts) ( Chasco et all, PSF, King Salmon Forever, Dr. Carl Walters, UBC). 50,000,000,+ smolts are heading to sea as I write and up to 40,00,000 will be consumed by pinnipeds. Or particular interest to the pinnipeds are the endangered .4.2, 5.2 Upper Fraser chinooks as they are much larger than the ocean type and easy prey. Same for the Thompson River steelhead.
We have had our IFMP before DFO before DFO for 21/2 years without no approval as of yet. We are moving slowly forward on this. Our group, PACIFIC BALANCE PINNIPED SOCIETY has the support of over 300,000 British Columbians , including over 100 FN groups, the commercial fishers and the sport fishers.
As well as reducing the pinniped by 50% our efforts will provide much needed jobs and greatly help restore the sports fishing industry worth over $1.1 billion.
we need all the support we can get to get the timid DFO managers on side.
Unfortunately, as with most everything else with salmon conservation and recovery, there is no ‘silver bullet’. The indiscriminate culling of half the number of pinnipeds on this coast will not lead to the conservation and recovery of salmon or salmon fisheries. And we have examples where there has been recovery in areas of high pinniped abundance, such as for Cowichan chinook. However, it is also clear that certain south coast salmon and steelhead stocks/species have been reduced to very low levels and may be in a predator/prey trap. There may be a role of predator reduction in specific instances and areas. However, more research and a greater understanding of the role of predators is required before undertaking any culls of seals, herons, cormorants, or other animals that prey on salmon or steelhead smolts. We would agree, there is an urgency in undertaking this work as soon as possible and feeding it into larger recovery actions.
DFO adopted a totally unrealistic 5% mortality by the rec non retention fishery. DFO studies show 30 to 50% mortality, especially when bait is used. Rec fishers are at he mouth of the Fraser now, supposedly non retention. But DFO enforcement reported three years ago that rec fishers there were 30% non compliant. They are still there. I asked DFO what thy were actually fishing for. I was old coho which by the way are endangered.
i agree the dfo must be held accountable or the dfo department heads must be charged with negligence and face the act of criminal PROSECUTION.
I do not understand why fishers are not confined to a set catch WEIGHT and therefore not permitted to select specific species and throw the unwanted species back, to likely die from the trauma of being caught. If fishers must keep ALL species to their limit weight and get whatever they can sell that mix of fish for, processors must be prepared to package all kinds of fish. I do not know the financial impact this could have on the sustainability of fishers but I believe that it would increase fish species and the creatures dependent on them (whales for example)
What should be done is have the rec anglers have a one hatchery chinook retention. You get your one fish and you are done fishing for that day. No C and R after that. No going after bottom fish either.
DFO and the SFAB set the annual rec take, It is now so low the industry is having trouble surviving. ENgOs should have a member of theirs who also fishes attend SFAB meetings and get the information that is used each year. If the rec fish were stopped that would be up to a $2.52B loss for the economy. The solution here is to immediately put out 12 ocean netpens of 2 million chinook each, each of which is diploided or triploided and fin clipped. The most important from immediate killer whale (SRKWs) food is the Cowichan because they circle the Strait of Georgia for a year or more before going offshore.
Netpen fish cannot spawn, do not return to rivers, but to the saltwater site of the netpen, where an Indigenous fishery could mop up the returnees, with the excess for others. This would save the SRKWs and put fish that can be distinguished by the missing adipose fin, for retention. There is no damaging of genes because they cannot spawn. But DFO needs to be pushed because they tried putting 35M Vedder chinook, that will return in four years. That means SRKWs go south for 4 years with no food. The netpen approach puts fish in the water right now. Also, along with the Robertson Creek and Cowichan stock, the Nitinat should be used too. At the terminal end the sexless returnees should be picked up in big buckets by helicopters, and, go directly to an already identified SRKW pod and drop them in front of them so they have food as of this September and every year hence from the netpens. If we don’t do netpens, because DFO has been managing salmon into extinction for 50 years, it will just finish the job with their too little too late approach, and the SRKWs will die, too.
The BC govt needs to start a new program under the Wild Salmon Secretariat directly aimed at habitat restoration and get on with the job that DFO has failed to do. Delivered through the Pacific Salmon Foundation who leverages cash 4 to 7 times, a sizeable restoration program for in river work by those 300,000 sporties who believe in bringing salmon back, along with our ENGO allies.
I have two websites that are relevant: wwwfishfarmnews.blogspot.com; and http://www.onfishingdcreid.blogspot.com. The URL box below would not accept these, hence they are here.