Here are my column from this week and the table of figures that shows sport fishing is the biggest sector of the fish industries.

Last week’s column highlighted a study that says fish farms decrease wild salmonid populations on average by 50%. This is where all the wild salmon are going, why the ywest coast of Van Isle has only 6,000 wild spawning chinook from the San Juan River to Quatsino Sound. Shame on DFO.

Sport Fishing – How We $$tack Up

A report I have been waiting for for five years has finally come out. BC Stats, a BC government agency, has released its 2011 stats on the part of our economy related to fish, seafood, processing and sport fishing. These are the only stats you should believe as they rigorously eliminate the effects of inflation, double counting, and they lay out their realistic multipliers and caveats completely.

Other estimates, such as those from DFO, the BC government, CFIA and fish farms, are blue sky hopes, and not very grounded in reality. The BC Stats punch line is: sport fishing is far and away the most important part of our province’s fish economy, and at $325.7 (all figures in millions and constant 2002 dollars) is 48.8% of the $667.4 contributed to BC’s Gross Domestic Product, with the smallest sector being aquaculture at $61.9 or only 9.3%.

As the biggest, sport fishing deserves most of the money spent on what we want. Commercial sector employment has dropped 50% in the past decade and currently employs 1,400. The drop is largely related to lack of fish, and that is DFO’s responsibility. We have waited almost 40 years for it to implement the Salmon Enhancement Program properly, and put more salmon in the sea. It needs to come clean with the Cohen Commission Report, by severing its conflicting ties with fish farms (three months after the Report release and there still is no reply from DFO), take the precautionary principle seriously, implement the Wild Salmon Policy, bring in a new coastal director general, do the habitat work it has never done completely and put fish farms on land.

Employment in all aquaculture types is 1,700 positions or 12.2% of the fishing sector total of 13,900, while sport fishing is a whopping 8,400 positions for 60.4% of the entire sector. We deserve our tax dollars spent on what we want and that is wild salmon. (No doubt commercial guys would agree). In terms of wages and salaries, sport fishing pays out big, too, at $218.9 – over 57% of the entire sector. It is only $55.7 for all of aquaculture – 14.5%.

And do remember that DFO and the fish farms have in the past liked to say it is 6,000 employment and $800 Million. Sorry, only BC Stats is rigourous and reliable. And remember that in late 2011, the large fish farms released their actual employment and it counted up to only 820 actual jobs – even below the BC Stats figures. Marine Harvest had to let staff go and has had a rocky 2012, losing millions to Kudoa in the past two years (makes fish flesh turn to mush). Do note that wages for the commercial sector were only $8.4, however, an additional $70, is warranted because owner/operator profits are not technically ‘wages/salaries’. Again declining wages point to a lack of wild fish – a DFO responsibility. See a table of all the figures at:

In 2011 dollars, total revenues are: Commercial – $344.8; Processing – $427.5; Sport Fishing – $936.5 and, aquaculture – $469.0, meaning that sport fishing, at 43.0% of the $2.2 billion total, is twice – or more – the size of any of the other sectors. And we don’t buy much farmed salmon – I calculate less than $5 per person per year. So, DFO: show us the – wild salmon – money!

Go to www.fishfarmnews.blogspot for the summary table. I could not load the table properly on this site, so have made it the first item on the farmfarmnews site.

This is the BC Stats document that I used:

I fished with Trailhead Charters – – in Port Renfrew and had wonderful fishing on Swiftsure Bank. Our boat retained six halibut to 35 pounds; five springs to 19, and six coho to six. Many springs and coho were released, so this was a good one day fish.

On the long ebb tide, the best action was against the trapezoid-shaped closed area wedged against the American side of the strait. The ebb rises from 700 feet bringing nutrients from the deep to the top and these start off the food chain, ending in the predatory fish we caught.

The halibut took a combination of bait and lure. On spreader bars the baited end was Berkeley’s soft, white, plastic, wriggly-tailed blanks threaded onto a lead-head jig. Some lines were baited with large herring and/or salmon bellies. The pencil leads had glow properties; the ball weights did not.

The springs were in the high teens. This means the Fraser 5-2s that should be passing Victoria, are either late or in lower numbers than forecast as we caught no 30- to 40-pound fish. The best colour flasher was the new Kinetic Purple crush from O’Ki. The business end was a Cloverleaf, cuttlefish hootchie. The second colour was an Army Truck flasher and Angel-wing cuttlefish.

We let out tin spoons on the surface 50 feet back. Again, the hot colour was the Kinetic Purple 6-inch, with a Cop Car Glow second best. Though early in the season, most of the coho were on the surface. One nabbed a generic glow-green bucktail on my fly rod. This means coho fishing should be nothing less than phenomenal as summer wears on and the 1.6 million coho, most marked, come to Puget Sound.

There was more to this fishing trip than fish. We had three young lads from New Zealand, Germany and Austria. There is a new program under: that matches young people with host businesses, the purpose being to work for room and board for weeks or more, and then for the person to move on somewhere else. One of the kids was in aeronautical engineering, and we managed to make him believe he had to kiss his first fish, a halibut. Then we got him to kiss his first coho.

At the lodge, our chef did a six-course, 5-star dinner in the amber glow of evening. The people were as interesting as the fishing. Jack had walked from Parksville to, yes, Port Alberni, taken the MV Lady Rose to Bamfield and, get this, walked the west coast trail backwards to the pick up across the bay. Iain, a natural raconteur, claimed, and he was big enough that no one disputed him, that he spent his life with his bald head being mistaken all over the world to where he boldly goes as Jean Luc Picard of TNG. Then Monique, a blend of Six-Nations First Nation, Quebec, with a dash of Dutch and English and her taciturn First Nations husband, Peter (she spoke so much, he may not get many words in) told her tales of the ‘Best Hamburger in Paradise’ as deemed by the TC. They run the ‘restaurant’ on the West Coast Trail that hikers from around the world tramp days into the mud and wilderness to rave about. An interesting fishing trip all around.

560 Words

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: 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


I have started a new blog about fish farm news and science.

The purpose is to give those concerned about fish farm issues some key documents to read and become informed.

Copy and paste this address into Google: (more…)

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