Salmon Leaks Part 3: Ringing in 2011 with Harvest Management

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After a break for the holidays, Judge Cohen and the sockeye inquiry returned in January 2011 to tackle the next issue at hand—harvest management. As with any factor that depletes sockeye, the amount of fish harvested as well as the associated decision making process needs close examination by the Commission of Inquiry into the decline of Fraser River Sockeye.

To aid Cohen’s endeavors and the grand task at hand, the sockeye inquiry was given a 13-month extension and an additional 11 million dollars (see Vancouver Sun article Cohen commission given 13 more months, $11 mill to complete Fraser Sockeye inquiry). With the extension, Judge Cohen’s final report is now due on June 30, 2012.

See harvest management transcripts below:

 

Counsel for Watershed Watch questioned Mike Lapointe of the Pacific Salmon Commission Jan 19 on the issue of early sockeye entry into the Fraser River and how it relates to the research of Kristi Miller of DFO (see page 30, line 47). Dr. Miller’s research is the study mentioned in the confidential memo accessed by the Globe and Mail in late 2010 regarding a purported virus affecting sockeye, coho and Chinook salmon and is one of the most captivating issues unfolding in the inquiry. Watershed Watch counsel asked Lapointe:

“And are you aware of her hypothesis that … this genomic signature or this genomic signal is associated with elevated mortality in response to a virus?”

Lapointe replied, “yes”, and counsel then highlighted this is an important topic that needs further examination by the inquiry in the coming months.

Also on Jan 19 counsel reviewed with Lapointe the issues and challenges with managing a mixed-stock fishery and suggested that perhaps a potential solution is to move towards more terminal fisheries in the Fraser River to maximize the ability to protect threatened stocks such as Cultus sockeye (see page 32, line 6).

On Feb 3 Watershed Watch counsel asked Dr. Brian Riddell, CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation, about his thoughts on the importance of examining the early ocean survival of Fraser sockeye (starts on page 3, line 31). He specifically states:

“the Strait of Georgia has been largely neglected as a major study in terms of ecosystems that salmon all use, and there really hasn’t been a comprehensive study of the strait and what determines marine survival in the early phase.”

Dr. Riddell continued to talk about Kristi Miller’s work regarding a purported virus and the importance of examining this factor in the inquiry:

“We’ve been looking at this for a while. I’ve been following it, naturally, because Kristi was in my division before I left the department and as my background is genetics, we spent quite a bit of time talking about this.”

Riddell also touched on the importance of examining Harrison River sockeye for potential clues to the decline because of their unique outmigration behaviour, “not only do they use the strait longer, they go out to sea at a very different time.”

On Feb 8 Ken Wilson—a fisheries consultant and former DFO biologist—was questioned by Watershed Watch counsel about his previous involvement in the Fraser River Sockeye Spawning Initiative (FRSSI) (see page 52, line 10). As he stated in a report, “The FRSSI process is represented by DFO as a Wild Salmon Policy implementation pilot for Fraser sockeye.” Mr. Wilson, representing the Marine Conservation Caucus (MCC) withdrew from FRSSI as detailed in a letter because the MCC conservation concerns were not adequately addressed by DFO. The letter states:

“…the FRSSI process is asking the question, “What is the best way to manage sockeye aggregates and what are the consequences of harvesting these aggregates in mixed-stock fisheries at  different rates?” The MCC is interested in asking a different question. We want to understand the consequences of alternative harvesting strategies on the individual conservation units that the WSP is intended to protect.”

For more information see:

 

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