Submitter: Frank Dwyer
Date Submitted: October 22, 2010
The commission should view the decline of Fraser sockeye in the context of the ongoing disappearance of other salmonids. The West Coast scientific community has very little knowledge about what happens to salmonids and the factors explaining the decline. What is needed overall is less argument, greater caution and much more knowledge through objective and independent scientific inquiry.
I urge the commission to consider the broad context. The Sockeye decline must be viewed along with the ongoing disappearance of other samlonids - namely coho, spring and steelheads and the historical nature of those trends. I have been a steelhead sports angler for thirty years. Some fifteen years ago, the then provincial biologist responsible for the Thomson River told me that he expected the extirpation of Thompson Steelhead in ten years. He had great and sadly resigned foresight, but he was not alone. This is not a sudden crisis; there has been a long buildup and early awareness. What has changed is a broad public awareness that something disastrous is looming - as if this were a new calamity and the sockeye the only affected species. What I know - and what has been revealed time and again, over decades, is that the west coast scientific community has very little knowledge about what happens to salmonids in the ocean and the factors explaining the decline. The most urgent need is for an immense research effort, and the funding for such, based for the near term on the Fraser estuary and the straights approaching Vancouver. Until we know more, there must be severe limits on the commercial/First Nations catch. In short we need to buy time until we understand more. The stunning size of the run this year may easily lead to complacency, to a building up of capacity and a 'what's the problem' attitude. This year's epic run, provoking bonanza netting, may well have led to greater decimation of steelhead and coho stocks. That will be evident later this fall. What is needed overall is less argument, greater caution and much more knowledge through objective and independent scientific inquiry. The crisis is the lack of science based knowledge as to the broad picture. Frank Dwyer, Kamloops