Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Give this Woman a Job!

Betsy with Dried Salmon
Here is a letter from Alexander Morton with some great ideas... and an offer we'd be fools to pass up on.
March 22, 2011

British Columbia this is my job application
After watching DFO’s Director General of Science, Pacific Region on the stand at the Cohen Commission March 17 - this is my job application. If I was Director General of DFO Pacific Region, I could straighten this mess out and put our wild fish first. DFO policy has already driven one of earth’s most generous fish stocks to extinction (the east coast cod stocks) by ignoring their own scientist. They are doing exactly this again today. On March 17 we heard DFO did not inform the public that one of their scientists found what looks like a virus is killing the majority some runs of Fraser sockeye. DFO did not tell us that this virus has been epidemic in salmon farms on the Fraser migration route. I doubt DFO has any idea how widespread this virus is in farm salmon. I don't think they have a handle on the situation If we allow this type of mismanagement and secrecy we will lose wild salmon, one of our most valuable public resources
Number one DFO must recognize there are four types of salmon in BC; wild, enhanced, hatchery and farmed and there is no evidence they can co-exist. Fishery Managers have to give one type of salmon top priority. I would choose wild salmon because they are the least expensive, most likely to survive climate change, most prolific, greatest benefit to humanity and have a 10,000 year successful trackrecord.
Salmon wear spectacular regalia at spawning time to allow the females to make the best choice for their species. The males are saying, “hey, look at me I went to the North Pacific and back and have THIS much to show for it!” Female choice tunes each population, honing them into the best fish possible for the environment of the moment. When humans take that choice away from the salmon in hatcheries, we might as well cut off their tails as we release them. We destroy their most powerful survival mechanism. Enhanced salmon in spawning channels require expensive cleaning regularly and this costs more and more money as fuel costs rise. In 2010, I saw a spawning channel choked with carcasses. Any eggs under them were smothered by the massive rotting - it was a death trap!
Farm salmon break all the natural laws, are unsustainable with rapacious shareholders demanding continuous growth and they privately owned. If I were Director General of the DFO Pacific Region I would work for Canadians, not salmon farming corporations.
The wild salmon that swims all the way back from the open Pacific and chooses a site to spawn without our help – is THE most valuable salmon there is. I would honor the needs of this fish in every way possible - it is the only salmon with a future.
* I would establish the premise that wild fish manage themselves – we simply need to decide how much we are going to get out of their way and allow them to do what they do best - make more salmon.
* I would enact a Follow the Fish course of action using state of the art science to understand exactly where they are prospering and failing. This will equip us to debate what roadblocks we want to remove or keep.
* I would put a number of DFO people somewhere where that they can’t hurt anything further and I would hand the reins to others.
* I would meet with every First Nation Fisheries Manager and stream-keeper group to understand what needs to be done in each unique situation and then I would meet with those who disagree with them before making any decision.
* I would ensure every significant watershed has people trained in disease sampling and outfit them with the tools to immediately capture information on the epidemics that are flashing out of control killing BC wild salmon, so we can track and deal with this.
* I would form small, efficient roving teams combining dedicated First Nations, biologists and the people who know the area best to walk these watersheds continuously and task them to report on where the salmon are and how they are doing. In this way we would learn what is working, what is not and what we need to maximize the fish’s own potential to thrive.
* I would thread together the people spread across BC who are working for salmon. The people on the grounds and the leading scientists need to talk. The fishermen need to meet the Fishery Managers on the spawning grounds. Every meeting would be structured to produce or tune a plan of action. No wasted effort or bafflegab allowed.
* I would reinstate local DFO offices as much as I was able, populate them with local experts and make sure the folks on the grounds have clear channels of communication between themselves and head office, so when problems arise we would have an all hands on deck immediate response.
* I would offer opportunity and attention to the Canadians who think they can conduct aquaculture without soiling our province. I would promote farming at the bottom of the food chain, not the top. I would invite the open net industry to leave, suggesting the courts might offer leniency if they voluntarily removed themselves in the face of mounting evidence that they are the source of lethal fish diseases and thus enormous losses to Canadians.
* I would apply this approach to all fisheries. It is not that I know what needs to be done in all cases, but I can figure out who is sincere and knowledgeable and encourage these people to come forward to begin a new era where we work with our wild fish and not against, where policy is second to truth.
My personal goal is to return to the wilderness of the Broughton Archipelago, but I would be willing to do this in hopes that I could go home in a year or so and watch the wild salmon and all they feed return to us.