SEHAB Member:  Leandre Vigneault

Area: Haida Gwaii

Community Advisor:  Pat Fairweather

Meeting Date: February 24-26, 2017

Specific topics from last meeting or between meetings requiring comment


Possible change to SEHAB contract/role as described by Adam and Tina at last meeting.  Please describe how you see SEHAB now and where would you like to it go in the future.

I think that we really need to think about what we see as our role, both to the department and to community groups.  In the time that I have been on this board, I have often struggled to see where we have made a difference and think that the possibility of this imposed change should be viewed as an opportunity to force us to find our core goals for this SEHAB going into the future.


I am somewhat familiar with the SFAB model that Tina and Adam proposed at the last meeting as I sit on the local SFAC that in turn provides input to DFO at the local level and to the SFAB that plugs in at the regional level. This board operates mainly to answer questions brought to it by the department.  Issues being brought to DFO from the SFAC are delivered as a motion to request changes from the department. If those are local level issues, these are often dealt with at the local level otherwise they are pushed up to the main SFAB to deal with at the regional level.  It is a very hirachical system but it works for this interest group.  It is important to note though, that most of the issues SFAB deals with are around very specific regulation and also that the department is tuned to hear the concerns of resource users (Department of “Fisheries” not Fish) . Equally as important is the fact that the SFAB works in tandem with the SFI which lobbies the minister directly.

I also have sat/sit on two other advisory boards which both are designed to ask their members very specific questions and are looking for advice on these questions only.

All these “Advisory” boards are quite different from what SEHAB is at present and represent a model that DFO people understand.

For SEHAB the issue I see, is we have tried to fill three roles; an advisory board to DFO SEP(what we are paid to do), a group that compiles and delivers brings community issues to the department and a lobby group to RHQ and higher.  I feel that we are not doing a great job of any of these things.  I think Adam and Tina’s proposal is partly driven by contract administration changes but also a sign that they don’t feel they are getting what they need from us and I think that the regular navel gazing that we do is another indication of this.  I don’t know how to move SEHAB into a more effective role but I think that we can start by being really clear about which of the issues that we are bringing forward can be deal with at RHQ and which need to dealt with at a higher level.  We are just frustrating ourselves and Adam/Tina and Cheryl when we direct issues that belong on the minister’s desk to them. 

To sum up, right now we have the latitude to use our funds to advise at both the RHQ and Minister level but this will change if we move in the direction of the SFAB model.  I have a bunch of questions and would value everyone thoughts on them:

·         Would a narrowed focus be bad?

·         Should we split into two entities like SFAB/SFI. 

·         Should we fight really hard to maintain SEHAB as it operates now and if so how do we justify that?

Personally I think is important that SEHAB exist to provide a place for community volunteers to have a voice that reaches high in the department. I am not sure how to get there but I think there is room for us to be more effective.

Letter to Minister LeBlanc re: Fisheries Act Review.  Please provide specific examples of failure of the new Act or things you would like to see changed. 

Reduced consideration for habitat due to:

·         loosening of the rules,

·         loss of habitat officer presence in field areas,

·         loss of notification requirements and

·         not habitat violation charges since the changes were implemented

CA Staffing. Please provide input as to relative importance of CAs to community groups in your area, their priority in terms of SEP funding constraints, and whether your area has/is well served by your CA.

CA has always and continues to play a vital role in my area.  My first CA got me into volunteering, and all CAs after have supported mine and all other groups in our area. Providing technical and financial support for our projects, connecting us to the relevant people we need to know in the department and helping us interpret and understand the changing guidelines and rules that come out of DFO.

Identify up to 5 succinct issues that  you or your community would like SEHAB to take to DFO?


Where should SEHAB direct this concern?

Actions already taken by Community or DFO?

Possible solutions?

SEHAB opportunity and Work Plan fit?

Issue 1:

Changes to Fisheries Act Impacting Habitat 

Minister of Fisheries


Require notifications for all works near water, define who is a QEP and hire habitat staff to work at the local level

Science/WSP-provide input to current FA review and try to meet with the Minister.  Zoanne has also already made a presentation to the standing committee.

Issue 2:

Limited influx of younger volunteers



Consider adding a place for marine stewardship, focus on ecosystems, make sure data collected get used.

Work with DFO and PSKF to update and add to the streamkeepers modules, work with DFO science to see how to make sure collected data is relevant and usable.

Issue 3:

Increased shipping and the risk of contaminant spills and introduced species

Ministers of Fisheries and Transport

A lot of opposition to major oil and gas movement projects

Rules for ballast water release and treatment, designated shipping routes, sufficient tugs and support vessel stationed along the coast to allow rapid response and avoid ships hitting shore


Issue 4:





Issue 5:





*SEHAB Work Plan/Sub Committees are: Wild Salmon Policy (Stock Assessment, Habitat), Aquaculture, and Capacity & Core Funding

Stories: Highlight important successes and challenges in your area that you would like to discuss this meeting. This can also be a place to provide background for the issues listed above.

Topic/Issue: Damage to Alliford Bay hatchery  and rearing area due to a large fallen tree

Successes: Hatchery getting a small upgrade along with the repairs to the roof and rearing troughs with funds provided by Gwaii Trust and PSF (hopefully) as well as DFO- SEP and some SPA (fisheries infraction court fine money).


Topic/Issue: SPA (fisheries infraction court fine money)

Successes: SPA money being put to good use to buy a new touch tank for community event interpretative displays and possibly water level alarm setup for the Bearskin Bay Community Salmon Hatchery.





Submissions and Comments from Community Groups:

Submission from John Disney with the Old Massett Village Council-

Over the  last couple of years Old Massett has had a growing fear that our ‘Salmon Habitat’ in the riparian zones of the Yakoun, Mamin and others is becoming more and more unstable and this is negatively affecting our salmon returns. Every time there’s a heavy rain or flood event, we lose more and more of the vital river bank environment and the rivers themselves are slowly turning into trenches with very fast moving water. You can see the difference between what it should be like as in the Tlell and what it is as in the Yakoun or Mamin. The former, even in heavy rain events is slow moving and stable, the latter is fast moving and the river banks are caving in and the alder and small conifers are being dragged into the river and being swept away.

 I know you know this so I won’t go on. However, Old Massett is starting to address this issue. We recognize this is long term planning and restoration work and so we are approaching this as a 10 to 20 year project, not a one or two year one. We have begun by engaging one of BC’s gurus in this work, Bart Simmons, and he has come and put in several weeks already assembling the first batch of prescriptions to address this situation. 

Riparian restoration objectives will be aimed at:

  1. Manipulating stand characteristics to accelerate the establishment of old growth forest characteristics sooner thereby benefiting both salmon and wildlife.
  2. Improving conifer stocking and large woody debris (LWD) recruitment through cluster planting techniques.
  3. Maximizing the growth potential of conifers to achieve the largest diameter trees in the shortest possible time utilizing girdling techniques to reduce conifer densities.

Restoring the ecological characteristics of riparian polygons adjacent to the chosen watersheds so that restoration objectives for salmon habitat, water quality and channel stability can be achieved over the long-term

We have a set of prescriptions in front of the FLNRO office for their input and comment and will be moving to the first implementation phase some time in the next few months. I spent some time up on the Yakoun before Christmas and it is worrying how it looks. It has a very unstable feel about it with lots of evidence of washed out banks and trees falling into the river etc. Basically just small spruce and alder. No cedar or large trees. It is one of those issues that everyone kinda knows about but because of the length of time to help fix it, everyone kinda just hopes for the best. So we’re taking first steps to help address the issue.

In my humble opinion, I think this should be on everyone’s radar at all meetings as if we don’t address it I think we’ll be sorry later.