Here are Tom Davis’ complete comments from the SFAB meeting March 21, 2012. The strong motions that were passed follow his comments. When the senior DFO manager said he did not know there was a fish farm issue, all jaws in the room dropped.

Here’s the gist of my points at the meeting: The basic premise is that DFO cannot be trusted to deliver on stock recovery. I cannot think of a single case during my involvement with DFO where the policies they have implemented (almost exclusively ocean fishery reductions and primarily non native fresh water fishery reductions in sport and commercial fisheries) has resulted in stocks rebounding and fishing returning to reasonable levels. This is the “one tool in the box” recovery strategy that I referred to. In fact their actions, which have accelerated in the past decade, point to an entirely different conclusion which is that DFO at the policy level has little interest in sustaining ocean salmon fisheries and would be content to let salmon stocks drop to a level that meets conservation and native obligations with the occasional opportunity for other fisheries if the runs somehow became more productive. Here are the points which I cited to substantiate this:

1) Thompson River coho – severe restrictions went into effect in the 1990’s and the harvest rate dropped to near zero. Since then the stock has not improved and only marginal improvements have been made in terms of sport fishing opportunities. Look at the regs for our area. These are stream type fish from the same general area as the chinooks that we are currently talking about. In fact a number of stream type coho, chinook and sockeye stocks in the Fraser have all suffered? Is there a connection that DFO should be looking at. Yes! Have they? No (Jantz’s response). 2) Since the middle 1980’s ocean harvests for chinook & coho are a fraction of the pre-1990 levels. Georgia Strait coho-millions to a few thousand. WCVI troll coho and chinook-millions of coho and 200-400 thousand chinook to next to nothing for both species. Same reductions in sport fishing fisheries in these areas, particularly Georgia Strait and inside WCVI waters.. Ditto net fisheries in the approach waters and the Fraser River.
3) Some fisheries have been completely eliminated and will never again return.
4) Tone deaf or wilfully blind to farm salmon issues. DFO seems to be the only outfit that can’t find any viruses in farmed or wild pacific salmon. NB: The discussion points from the Campbell River lady [meaning Dr. Kristi Miller] were very interesting-ie: the DFO lab can’t find the virus because their equipment doesn’t have the resolution to locate it. The precautionary principle seems to apply to all users except the farming industry and it is clear, even from Jantz’s comments, that DFO is more than willing to defend the farmers than carry out their mandate to protect fish stocks.
5) SEP [Salmon Enhancement Program] has been abandoned – so obvious that it doesn’t require added comment.
6) The Wild Salmon Policy sounds great in principle and may have application in those areas with healthy and somewhat pristine watersheds but for southern BC and the interior it simply does not recognize the reality of urban, industrial and agricultural pressures on fish habitat.
7) Funding cuts are occurring everywhere and in particular in areas that are critical like fish production, volunteer projects and habitat protection. Yet there is lots of money for endless consultation, sub committees, working groups, paper pushing, policy preparation, discussion papers, etc. In many ways we have been complicit in this and have been co-opted into the DFO bureaucratic grinder. It gives the impression that DFO are doing something but in reality produces very little of substance.

In spite of the rhetoric, more of which we heard at the meeting, about the importance of sport fishing, putting together a recovery plan etc., these few key indicators (There are many more) point to an entirely different conclusion. DFO cannot be trusted to save and restore the resource even if they wanted to. So we need to change the way DFO functions at the policy level, create a west coast oriented department with a mandate to produce fish, protect them against adverse non-harvest impacts and represent the interests of all west coast users and the businesses that support them. Failure to turn DFO in a positive direction will result in museum populations of salmon for the south coast and interior regions in a very few decades.

Thanks Tom for your words.Everyone go and look at my critique of the new CFIA document about testing west coast salmon for ISA and other viruses. In summary, they have a conflict of interest, their lab can’t find the viruses and their plan shows a stunning lack of coverage. See: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2012_02_01_archive.html. SFAB Motions:

Victoria and Area SFAB Committee Meeting, 21 March 2012
Chinook Motion 1:

The Victoria SFAB Committee will not agree to or accept any further restrictions on the recreational Chinook fishery in Fisheries Management Areas 18, 19 and 20 during June, July and August each year, until DFO can demonstrate the letter of the salmon allocation policy has been met and a recovery plan is in place that includes habitat restoration, sufficient water for the fish and a SEP hatchery stock enhancement program.
Moved by: Wayne Zaccarelli; Seconded: Terry Anderson
Note: Friendly amendment request adding Area 18 to the motion was accepted by the mover and seconder.
Vote: Passed Unanimously

Chinook Motion 2:

The Victoria SFAB Committee demand DFO have an independent mutually-agreed third party organization review and report on the validity, dependability and accuracy of the stock status, stock assessment and harvest data used in managing all Fraser stocks of concern.
Moved: Tom Davis; Seconded: Martin Paish
Vote: Passed by all with one abstention

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