Sunday, October 21, 2012

Can science solve our Chinook problem?

A state symposium opens Monday in Anchorage on "Understanding Abundance and Productivity Trends of Chinook Salmon in Alaska."

The symposium comes in response to the recent poor Chinook returns to some Alaska rivers.

The two-day event at the downtown Egan Center will be divided into four sessions, each featuring presentations and panel discussions with state and federal scientists. Here's the agenda.

The scientists will discuss such topics as ocean survival of Chinook, genetic stock identification, salmon bycatch in commercial fisheries, and the potential role of hatcheries to supplement Chinook stocks.

People can offer questions or comments at the end of each session. Wisely, state officials plan to use a moderator to help control speechmakers.

In preparation for the symposium, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game prepared this analysis identifying Chinook "knowledge gaps." The 27-page document focuses on 12 "indicator stocks" around the state, in drainages such as the Stikine, Copper, Kenai, Karluk, Nushagak, Kuskokwim and Yukon.

Ultimately, the department aims to develop a research plan to better understand the causes for Chinook declines.

Lots more information here on the symposium, including how to attend in person or listen by phone or online.


Anonymous said...

Alaska already releases about 1.5 billion salmon every year and a very small percentage of that is chinook. A lot of it is pink salmon going to the southcentral and southeast parts of AK.

The Lower 48 releases a high percentage of chinook for hatcheries. They sure do love chinook.

Japan already releases 5 billion salmon into the ocean every year. Why add more competition for food?

As for bycatch there are three sectors (inshore, C/Ps, and motherships) and one sector has been catching high amounts of bycatch (inshore). Put observers on those small pollock boats. The big ones already have two observers with a lot of cameras. If people really want to reduce bycatch, put a lower limit on the catcher vessel boats.

As for the users of salmon, make it mandatory that all families who catch and eat salmon report the right amount of salmon they catch each year. They need to be held equally accountable.

Anonymous said...

How can ADF&G " the right amount of salmon they catch each year."? without these families fearing retaliation for over-harvesting.

We know that salmon caught to be dried is often ruined by wet, rainy weather causing the harvesters to start over when there is a break in the weather. Harvesters cannot control nature.

Anonymous said...

There are no pink hatcheries in SE.

Anonymous said...

Port Armstrong is a pink hatchery in Southeast.

Anonymous said...

Every pollock boat in the Bering Sea has 100% observer coverage. I dont know if people are misinformed or what but that seems to be brought up a lot on this board.

Anonymous said...

If ADFG scientists were able to fix this problem, it would not have happened in the first place. It is “political science” that has taken down this resource. Solid fisheries science will bring it back, but unless ADFG is allowed to utilize honest fisheries science, it will get worse until lawsuits are filed and Chinook in many systems are listed as Endangered Species which will remove control of management from an inept management of politicians telling ADFG what to do, to the hands of a Federal judge.

When ADFG was announced to be leading the charge to recover the Chinook salmon, the fix was in, as the Chinook declined under their watch, and the chances of ADFG fixing it are between slim and none. . So now it is going to work?

The Endangered Species Act is designed to remove control from State and local agencies which have failed to save a species for along term of time. Alaska’s Chinook salmon qualify.

What would cause the State to ignore their own Chinook resources and their existence threatened.

Money. Trawl money.

While the trawl industry is quick to point out declining Chinook by catch due alone to their efforts. ADFG will not point out that most of this decrease in trawl by catch is due to declining abundance. If the Chinook become extinct the trawl industry will hail their by catch of zero, as a success.

More escapement is the only answer that will work, and in local State waters, all commercial, most sports, and most subsistence shut down, there is nowhere else to turn for more escapement than the trawl industry.
The trawl industry is not willing to sacrifice.

It is too bad, because the trawl industry has been over harvesting Chinooks for years, and only lately under pressure being brought under regulation. Notice how all their Chinook caps are based on historical harvest and do not take into account in any way the needs of the natal stream. This is not science, it is politics.

The trawl industry is making good faith efforts now, but this was not what the trawl industry had been doing for the last three decades. If they had started sooner, Chinook salmon stocks would be without question in better shape. The trawl industry is going to fight to keep what the thinks is “theirs”.

ANILCA, Equal Protection Clause, and the Endangered Species Act will be the only solutions for any Chinook users except the trawl industry. Only a courtroom where lobbiests and politicans are normally prohibited from testifying will solve this Chinook problem and save the species. Anything else is just a delaying tactic.

It is sad to say, but the only thing that will arrest this long term decline in Chinooks salmon and quite possibly their very existence will be attorneys and judges.

State fisheries will bear 100% of the conservation burden so that a bunch of out of state and multi-national companies can continue to make billions.

PS, it should be noted that there is one group in the trawl industry that has been screaming for lowering by catches of all salmon, halibut, and crab of all salmon, for over a decade now, and that is the Community Development Quota (CDQ) groups. These groupd understand the depressing results of bycthes have done to real people in the villages.These CDQ groups also understand who was harvesting salmon for centuries before the non-resident multi-national trawlers ever showed up on the scene.

CDQ groups had voluntarily lowered their salmon, halibut, and crab by catches two decades ago. Too bad the marauding fleet had not followed their leadership, as we would not find ourselves in this Chinook crisis if they had.

Anonymous said...

@ 12;07 PM Kinda heavy handed, but I like it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think CDQ groups were around 2 decades ago.

Anonymous said...

CDQ's were founded in 1992.

20th anniversary this year.

When a magnificent resource like our Chinook salmon is ground down to the point that escapement goals and the original fishermen both commercial and subsistence can no longer fish, while a mixed stock Chinook fishery continues unabated, while everyone else sits on the beach, it is about time someone had the guts to speak the truth.

One fishery sits on the beach, we all sit on the beach. That is shared sacrifice, anything less is just one group pretending to sacrifice, which in turn makes all groups resistant to sacrifice, and the resource declines again.

When a resource get down below its escapement goals, you really do have to put the fish first, because otherwise this nightmare continues to get worse.

49erDweet said...

In my book whenever there aren't enough fishies for subsistence catch, there aren't enough for anyone. Period. If ADF&G shuts down local residents fishing to survive, everybody stays in port. Anything otherwise if bribery-enhanced politics - - - and reeks.

Anonymous said...

Like Obama said;

"The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."

You should meet his favorite Federal US District Court Judge James Redden, working wonders on a King Salmon run, from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama...

Where political science goes in a garbage can from one real Courthouse just a little S.E. of Nome.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out that not all the CDQ goups have supported drastic reductions in bycatch. That also flies in the face of much criticism on this very blog for various CDQ's for NOT supporting lower caps.

Anonymous said...

Let me rephrase this. Many CDQ groups took courageous positions against the uncontrolled bycatch over the last 20 years. These courageous CDQ groups understood what decimation of salmon could do to their local communities.

These courageous CDQ's used their power to push for regulation changes which finally after 20 years of byctches, brought the bycatch under quotas. High quotas, but quotas nonetheless.

Second these courageous CDQ groups also insisted that all their boats operate on much lower bycatch limits then the industry average, providing both leadership and more salmon to their communities.

Too bad the rest of the industry had not begun following thier lead 2 years ago. We might not be in the box we are in today.

Now some of he CDQ groups went the other direction, and didn't give hoot about bycatch. Coastal Villages is one of these CDQ bad actors.

Of course Coastal Villages is managed by people who do not live in the villages, and the courageous CDQ groups are managed by people who do live in these villages full time.

Who do you thinks cares more about reducing bycatch, non-residents, or the village residents.

One pays a huge price, and the other looks at bycatch as burdensome expense.

Anonymous said...

Science will not solve the Chinook problem in Cook Inlet. Forums will convene, uninformed statements will be made by many, a few good ideas will be floated and ignored, but in the end it will be the State ADF&G who will be responsible for implementing any "fixes".

This is the same gang who, along with the board of fish, have a legacy of managing the Cook Inlet fishery according to the best available politics, not the best available science.

The decline of the Kenai River king run can be directly attributed to in-river mismanagement. Note that there has been no commercial harvest (setnetting) on the early run kings for 50 years or more, and this run is in horrible shape. Why would anyone be surprised? Nearly a thousand guides have been winnowing out the biggest kings for 30 years, backtrolling thousands of hooks directly on spawning beds, catching and releasing by the thousands, eroding the sensitive banks with constant wakes, and winning every regulatory battle that is presented to the board of fisheries who are nothing more than campaign tools for the governor and Bob Penney. Science is a joke in the Inlet. Thousands of commercial fishing families and the economy of the Peninsula will be the ultimate loser here.

Anonymous said...

100% observers on these boats so its all good?
Look. Bycatch is still happening even if each boat had 10 observers on board.

Anonymous said...

Some one, who posted above, needs to bone up on the Endangered Species Act before suggesting that Chinook salmon in Alaska be list...and that ESA listing somehow represents a "solution" to low king abundance.

Anonymous said...

Endangered Species Act petitions may be filed by literally anyone, but in reality are normally filed when all efforts at protecting the salmon have failed and there is a clear pattern of decline and one user group has a clear case of distress due to he decline.

While many of our rivers have declining Chinook numbers most salmon listings single out a particular river or a single tributary of a major river.

The Columbia River is a good example, where multiple salmon streams are listed, not just a single river.

What this means especially to high seas mixed stock fisheries is that a single river becomes the quota for the mixed stock fishery’s by catch quota. What this means in reality is that if a single trigger river cannot sustain a single fish harvested because everyone is desperately needed for escapement and the survival of the species, then all mixed stock harvests are closed because in a mixed stock fishery, there is no method of harvesting so that the salmon only come from a single river.

Once petition is received there is an investigation, and part of the investigation is listing every single harvest of the salmon being considered for listing. No fishery is exempt from scrutiny.

For the most part this is a scientific process and not a political process. Politics can play a role, especially if one party bringing the petition represents a group who have been particularly hard hit by the decline.

In our State the natural for this would be the Yukon. As it currently stands, people are actually going hungry, even while they have a variety of laws giving them preferential harvesting rights.

Escapement has failed to reach their minimum and treaty protected goals, all the while subsistence has been dramatically curtailed.

This is when a Federal Judge can enter the process, and on the Columbia the role of the Judge is supreme. Judge Redden went up against powerful organizations, and made them change, by ordering it. He ordered Federal agencies to save the salmon and when it became obvious that they were in the pockets of the special interests groups, he took over full time management of the Columbia River.

Supposedly scientific organizations were taken to the woodshed by Judge Redden.

In the end Judge Redden alone has been responsible for the new found salmon runs in the Columbia that in some cases dwindled to a single salmon. Redden got results in a resurgence of Columbia salmon. This year 750,000 sockeye salmon returned, and this is the largest return in 100 years.

It is interesting to note that on the Columbia Judge Redden went up against the dams and the hydro power companies. This is a huge special interest group and it lobbying power is far greater than any group associated with this salmon debate, .. And with the Endangered Species Act in hand, he crushed them.

I would assume that if AFN took up the Chinook salmon torch, that the Endangered Species Act along with ANILCA and Equal Protection Clause would decimate even the trawl industry, where native groups were not given any licenses at all.

While Washington State had strong treaties protecting native rights, it is assumed that Native Alaskans do not have these rights, but even that may be challenged. ANILCA essentially promised them food in the form of salmon, but if the Federal government is allowing the interception of returning salmon to the point where they cannot get their food, this too may be a violation of ANILCA’s intent, and when one party of contract does not have their consideration honored, then the whole contract is at stake, which means all Native Claims to land are reinstated.

All of this because for years the trawlers booted fish out of the scuppers and under-reported by catch for decades.

The trawl industry should have been listening to the CDQ groups when they were pressing for lower bycatches.

Now here are no easy answers.

Anonymous said...

To the person who is presenting the ESA information: If I was you I wouldn't bring this up in a bar in Ballard or Dutch.

Anonymous said...

I could give a damn about Ballard or Dutch, which is the exact same attitude that you have treated us with when you continued to rape the salmon resources under the arrogance that is so apparent.

Brave enough to fight in Ballard or Dutch over bycatch issues, but not truly brave enough to go to these villages and see what happens to people that are stripped of the only resource they have to survive.

So easy to sit on that barstool and label Native people as lazy, welfare drunks.

Except I understand something that in all your self-proclaimed wisdom you fail to understand, that if the shoe was on the other foot, and Dutch and Ballard were stripped of their pollock resources, there would be a lot more drunks in Dutch and Ballard.

For years you have irreponsibly harvesed our salmon, until we reached the crisis point. You could have considered the plight of our villages earlier and restrained yourselves, but no you were greedy and self-absorbed and cared for nobody except yourself.

Now we are all in a fix of your making, but we are hungry in these villages, and you will not get off your barstool and come visit the villages and see what your greed has caused. The pain your greed has caused. You are not brave. You are a coward, that is why you will not come see this with your own eyes.

Instead you head off to Hawaii and sun yourself and tell yourself you have done nothing wrong.

You are fooling yourself.

In the last year we have seen on television your helicopters and jets, but now the world is seeing our plight as we go without winter food. Yukon Men is watched by millions.

Your lies are being revealed.

Get back on your self-righteous bar stool, you fool.

Anonymous said...

Some times the sober people are more dangerous than the drunks

Anonymous said...

So long on emotion, so short on facts. Maybe you should file for an ESA listing. Let us know how it turns out for you.

Anonymous said...

Ahem. Coastal Villages operates its own pollock vessel and can control where it fishes. The other groups are bad actors because they rely on Seattle companies to fish for their allocations. The other five groups and piss and moan at their partners until their faces turn red to call for reduced bycatch but they cannot truly control reducing bycatch like Coastal Villages can.

Coastal Villages has nothing to hide from the world while the other groups hide behind disclosure rules (look at their 2011 annual report for how much bycatch they caught). Have the other five groups disclosed how much bycatch their partners caught?

Anonymous said...

Didn't about 2 million chums salmon go up the Yukon this season? Seems folks could find something to eat.

Anonymous said...

All of you "Yukon Men" fed all your fish that you caught with your big wheels to your dogs. That you keep on a 3' leash.

Anonymous said...

If you Google "Coastal Villages Bycatch" the first aricle you come to is this story in the Alaska Dispatch.

Really interesting story about Coastal Villages CDQ group.


Anonymous said...

That sure is a good read. It is obvious that Coastal Villages CDQ has nothing to hide even then. They are letting it be known that they are reducing bycatch.

Anonymous said...

Every CDQ group should have a table like on page 24 and 25. Maybe even all vessels.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the solution to the continuing bycatch problem is to give the CDQ's more quota. At least they fully understand what the grim effects are in these villages which have nothing else, other than salmon.

Clearly NOAA/NMFS is in the pocket of the industrial trawlers from outside, other wise they would have put caps on this pollock fishery decades ago.

Coastal Villages coercion in the article above is just another way for white managers to abuse the local populations.

I see nothing in the article that would make people proud of Coastal Villages behavior, especially their managers.

I read he article above and then searched the Alaska Dispatch site for more information.

I found that the CEO of Coastal Villages makes $850,000 a year, and when his people were starving in order for them to get nets to eat he made them sign a document promoting the same fishery which was causing them to starve from lack of salmon runs.

That told me everything I needed to know about the management of Coastal Villages.

Anonymous said...

"Native" entitlement attitude...truly pathetic.

Native to where? Asia?

What great economic engines have you developed that makes you think that you are better than other regular people so that you can have them work their a$$e$ off while you are entitled to an endless stream of free benefits?

If you are using modern contrivances, you are no longer customary and traditional! What a pile of two faced, have it both ways, BULL. Start taking responsibility for your own futures and quit blaming other people.

Oh how you would scream bloody murder if there were actual Non-Native Preference declarations printed in adds/documents. Racism!

Anonymous said...

90% of all Bering Sea fishing licenses were given by Washington DC to Non-native, Non-Alaskan, and in some cases Non-American, all while the residents of the Bering Sea are 90% Alaskan Natives.

Racism is always shameful and as such it is hidden, but if you are looking for clues, look at the allocation of licenses in the Bering Sea, where outsiders control Washington DC and the fishing licenses have always been handed out to Non-residents in far greater numbers.

Remember the Pribilof seal licenses, given to outsiders for 100 years, and the people of the Pribilof's were kept as slaves until 1964.

The simple truth is that one race never get fishing licenses where they live, and that is a sign of systemic racism.

Anonymous said...

@8:21 am....People starving? Good grief, come on. Your over-the-top rhetoric diminishes everything else you post.

Anonymous said...

Last July I got the chance of a lifetime, to kayak the Yukon from Dawson to Galena. I am sixty-eight, and I did not think many more kayak trips are left in my lifetime, so I jumped at the chance when my friends suggested this “boys” trip. Excited to see an area of Alaska I had not seen, but had often heard of.

I had spent 25 years trawling the Bering Sea. 2007 was a horrible year for by-catch, and when I turned 63, I could collect Social Security, and I literally jumped ship and retired. Yes, I had heard of the salmon runs on the Yukon, and the by-catch was always on our mind while fishing the Bering Sea, as our livelihoods were under attack by these villages I would be visiting.

One of my life’s regrets is that I never took the time to visit these villages 25 years ago. What a horrible mistake of mine to judge these people without ever knowing them. I was one of those who spoke without any real understanding. I was only worried about my personal bank account. I never saw this salmon by-catch issue from their eyes.

Like Scrooge, the Yukon just kept pulling me to village after village that was suffering from lack of salmon, the same salmon that I had been kicking into the trash chute for decades quietly so that it was not reported as by-catch. We were treated like guests everywhere we stopped. The disappointment of no salmon was etched on their faces. In speaking with them, it was not just this year’s failure, but the depressing fear that the King salmon were gone forever.

It was a nightmare to see the numerous large communal smokehouses with a couple of lonely salmon in them. Leaving Eagle, a man come up to say good bye to us and handed us three salmon strips for our journey to Galena. The people did not have much, but they would share what they had. Everywhere we went families were working together as a unit. Material things did not seem to matter much. The whole trip was marked by a lack of salmon in every village. I could not believe the amount of salmon these people ate. I never told them I trawled the Bering Sea.

These people haunted me. I spent years kicking prohibited fish overboard so that the observer did not count it. I don’t know what kind of salmon it was, but there was a lot some times. When the salmon were really thick, we had to work hard so that the observers did not record this. If an observer was strict and caught us sneaking fish over the side, we made their lives tough. When we got to town, the head office complained about a specific ball buster observer, and often they would be replaced. The heads of the observer companies and our company often drank together.

Returning home I called the NMFS in Juneau and spoke to a man, and I told him about my trip and what I had done for a living, and how bad I felt about throwing bycatch over the side so that the observer did not count it.

At first he sympathized with the villages and told me that it was too bad these villages are not part of a Community Development Quota system so that they could get some of the money from the Pollock fishery. I asked him why not, and he said that I guess they just got over looked.

I told him that we had under-reported salmon by-catch for decades, and he said that I could not prove this. I told him that I could prove it, if he just looked at the records for this one observer who caught us and we had fired.

This man from NMFS warned me that all of the records are confidential and he then asked me if I had signed a confidentiality agreement with the company that I worked for. I told him that I had. He indicated that I could be in a lot of trouble if I violated these confidentiality agreements that I had signed and suggested not to talk about what I had seen.

The man from NMFS then asked me what my name was, and who I worked for.

I hung up the phone. I felt he was threatening me and my retirement for telling the truth.

There are hundreds of us; Fishermen and observers alike. Unseal the records, and allow fishermen to speak without fear of reprisal.

I hope others will speak up.

Anonymous said...

Sure you might hope that others speak up but your story is bogus unless you tie your name to this. You might as well be telling fairy tale stories for all I care.

What a bunch of baloney your story is.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, cute story. Next time tell it with less of the over the top heart string tuggings. Somebody might believe it.

By the way, my village prefers chums over kings, even though there are plenty of kings. We also know that if you eat the last of the kings, they will go the way of Stellars sea cow.

Anonymous said...

hahahah. wow what a great fictional story!!

Anonymous said...

Do you know how I know your story is fictional? Only women work at NMFS.

Anonymous said...

2 million summer chums and a million more fall chum (open to subsistence fishing 24/7 btw) swam by the doorsteps of the villages on the Yukon, and nary a whisper on this blog about that. Its as if they didn't exist. Some advocates would have you believe not a salmon was to be found on the Yukon at all, and everyone is going hungry.

That said, everyone understands Chinook are the preferred subsistence fish in the Interior, and everyone wants to see stronger returns in the future. We have great habitat, and runs will rebound under favorable environmental conditions.

Anonymous said...

Poster at 12:00 pm, 10-25-12 please send me some contact information so I can get better details of your bycatch experience and the NMFS interaction. Thanks for communicating what you have thus far. Gervais, Box 7, Ruby, AK 99768

Anonymous said...

If you study history, you'll see cases like this repeated over and over again. When human greed dominates, nature does not survive.

Congress needs to perform a sweeping, dusting and trashing of people in the federal regulatory sectors that are ignoring this blatant destruction of a valuable livelihood resource for thousands and thousands of Alaska's poor people. If they continue to ignore this plight, it's a classical case of the Western Movement and the assimilation of the savages.