Roundtable Report Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board
June 9th and 10th, 2007
Christina Engel - Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii
SEHAB Member – George Farrell
(Report submitted by Leandre Vigneault, Alternate Member)
In contrast to Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) written and verbal
communications to the public about support for volunteerism and stewardship the Community Involvement Program (CIP) and Advisor (CA) are threatened yearly with significant budget cuts on the North Coast (15%+). This appears to be an area management financial strategy and similar threats of cuts to CIP are not being experienced in other areas of the Pacific Region. Although the extent of program delivery damage through budget cuts was minimal last fiscal year, the 30 year volunteer commitment fostered through the CIP on Haida Gwaii is being denigrated by short-sighted Area management decisions.
Many believe it is imperative that DFO return the CIP to its own Regional Division that could avoid area managers making financial decisions that have a negative impact by area. Area Habitat Directors are not physically or logistically able to be fully committed to the advancement of the Community Involvement Program. For DFO to truly show support to the volunteer stewardship community CIP should be returned to its rightful position as a priority. We should all be demanding a Pacific Region Community Involvement Division supported by its own Regional staff outside the area management model.
For the most part stock assessment on Haida Gwaii continues to be off the DFO radar. The consistent and accurate collection of data concerning the timing and migration of local stocks is the basis of any salmon management plan or “science based” plan including the WSP. The collection of this data has been reduced to a dangerously low almost non-existent level by DFO over the last 20 years. DFO has made a good choice by supporting one coho fence count on the Tlell River. However, over the last 3 years fence counts, AUC counts, and the patrolman counts have been reduced to an unacceptable level. As an example, the charter patrol budget for the Queen Charlotte Islands was reduced by ~75% between 2000 and 2006 and this years budget has again been reduced by ~5% from last years budget. Please read Patrolman Pettigrew’s letter to the Minister and replies on the web site sehab.org.
Additional monies should be budgeted by Ottawa to support data collection (on the water, real time, real people) to support a science based monitoring of successes and failures in the creation of Conservation Units and Habitat Status Assessment Monitoring. The Wild Salmon Policy’s success depends on adequate monitoring, which at this time is missing.
Many on Haida Gwaii believe that a return to a separate Community Involvement Division within DFO along with dedicated planning teams for each Community Advisor’s area is a number 1 priority. At the very least a region wide standard of planning should be established for all areas.
The Tlell Watershed Society (TWS) has forged successful partnerships to continue operating the only adult counting fence on Haida Gwaii. The CIP continues to be the most consistent supporter and funder. The North Coast and QCI Sports Fish Advisory Boards successfully lobbied DFO North Coast Stock Assessment to financially support this vital project for the last 2 years. We hope this is part of a DFO strategy to consistently support data collection for the implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy. Other important funders for this fence have been: QCI Salmon Unlimited, Pacific Salmon Foundation and Gwaii Trust.
TWS has now successfully operated the new video counting system for 1 year. Good relations between Hecate Strait Streamkeepers, Parks Canada, Haida
Fisheries (HFP) and DFO Community Involvement continue. However, further funding for habitat restoration has not been secured. Juvenile assessment and adult Coho and Chum enumeration on 7 Lyell Island streams will be funded for 1 more season.
In an abrogation of its responsibility and mandate DFO did not inspect any of several dozen of streams south of Darwin Sound (and in all areas of the islands) last year. Streams, which were inspected by the 2 charter patrolmen, could not be inspected in a timely fashion due to patrolman cutbacks. The reliability of salmon escapement numbers is very low for all of Haida Gwaii (200 streams) outside of the 7 Lyell Island streams, the Deena River (thanks to Haida Fisheries) and the Tlell River (thanks to the Tlell Watershed Society).
Students from local schools have released their coho fry in May. Students at all schools have completed “bug” studies. Biologist Jody Bisset complements the island wide education program by providing Ocean curriculum in Haida Gwaii classrooms.
Salmon Unlimited and the Community Involvement Program have financially supported the Port Clements Salmon Enhancement Club’s hatchery upgrade. The upgrade at the hatchery has been a complete success. Both the quality (O2) and quantity of water has been significantly improved. A backup water recirc. system has also been installed. More than 25k Mamin coho were fed by local students and released at over 1.5 grams by students into the Blackwater trib
The partnership between the Pallant Creek Hatchery (Haida Fisheries), Northern Trollers (NTA), and Hecate Strait Streamkeepers in the chum enhancement program for Selwyn Inlet continue. CA Christina Engel and HSS technical support managed to release several thousand Chum fry. These fry were transported by boat and backpack and released into Dass Creek. The eggs and fry were incubated and reared at the Pallant Creek Hatchery.
The chum enhancement program (NTA & HSS) for Skidegate Inlet has had a successful year. 100,000+ chum fry have been released into the 4 small streams along the south shore of Skidegate Inlet collected.
Hecate Strait Streamkeepers is continuing its partnership with the Ministry of Highways EEF fund to improve culvert and fish passage problems along Highway 16. This positive involvement of a provincial government Ministry has been very encouraging for volunteers.
Another key issue for Haida Gwaii and the North Coast generally may very well be Fisheries Reform- Fisheries Act changes. Many fear the Conservative government is intent on privatizing habitat protection (EPMP) and the “fish resource” (ITQ).
The ITQ “test fishery” as a resource management tool is of great concern. Many believe ITQ’s will eliminate the owner operator, which has been the backbone of our small communities. The creation of ITQ’s privatizes a common resource and is being resisted by coastal communities and the active fishing community.
The implication of the implementation of the EPM Plan is just beginning to be understood in the Northcoast. This plan should require active monitoring of habitat (baseline data) prior to industrial or linear development. The lack of funds to support field staff to accomplish this primary function is evident.
As an example of what may be occurring in the Northcoast: - The DFO QCI (District 9) Habitat Biologist has been a true champion of
habitat protection and community stewardship. It appears his position (Bi 3) will be replaced by a HMB based out of Rupert whose travel budget to QCI will be dependent on the whims of area based management and politicians. New habitat monitoring positions (EPMP) are being created for the north coast based out of Prince Rupert. (to pay for this?)Some or all Habitat Technicians positions in the North Coast will be eliminated, current BI 3 positions will be reclassified BI 2 and become office jobs.
- Currently the QCI BI 3(soon to retire) is field oriented, intimately knowledgeable on most streams on QCI and the stewardship community. Habitat technicians on the North Coast are typically very involved with watersheds, industry and community.
Business and individuals who alter or damage fish habitat are “users” of the resource and should be managed and regulated at least as closely as commercial fisherman.