Submission 0023-DALE

Submitter: Norman Dale

Community: Prince George

Date Submitted: April 9, 2023

The creation of a commission to investigate three poor years of sockeye returns is a narrow public policy response. To be effective, the commission should be reoriented and reorganized to grapple with the full spectrum of marine ecological uncertainties and instability that has been afflicting the entire coast.

The creation of a commission to investigate three poor years of sockeye returns, or more particularly the gap between predicted and actual runs strikes anyone who has watched the ups and downs of Northeast Pacific marine ecosystems as a rather narrow public policy response. Stocks of all salmon species not to mention numerous other fish and non-fish genera have been unstable for many years. I work particularly on the eulachon which, in several longstanding spawning rivers went from harvestable to near zero in a single year. I speak specifically of the Bella Coola River but the same instability was experienced in the Kitimat region, near Oweekeno and, on occasions at the head of Knights Inlet.

This is, of course, not the first time that bias towards a commercial species while the Government of Canada continues to ignore crises in other marine organisms, has occurred. In 1994 when a poor sockeye run was experienced on the Fraser another well-funded Commission of inquiry under the direction of the Hon. John Fraser was hastily convened. What stands out, in contrast to eulachon, is that the latter species, long called the ‘€˜salvation’€ or ‘saviour’€ fish was primarily of dorect economic and cultural value to First Nations. Ironically it is the neglect of whole ecosystems with histrionics directed exclusively to a single especially dollar-worthy species that lies behind the mysteriousnes and declines. Who knows? If the eulachon collapse of the late 90s had been more carefully examined, not as a single-species phenomenon but as a symptom of an ecosystem in trouble, we might be in a better position to explain and even make predictions about the sockeye too.

The present inquiry should be reoriented and even renamed to reflect a mandate to grapple with the full spectrum of marine ecological uncertainties and instability that has been afflicting this coast. Looking just at the sockeye is like the apocryphal story of a drunk who only looks for his keys where the light permits. And while your making essential changes to this initiative, how about balancing up the staff. Trying to figure out what’s happened to a fish population with a core staff made up of one biologist and nine lawyers sounds as appropriate as doing a medical diagnosis with a team of one doctor and nine janitors.

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Comment List

Name: Ron Walmsley

Date Created: April 27, 2023

Nature in respect to fisheries and all organisms is in a delicate balance. So I agree with many of the statements mentioned by Norman Dale. All activity in the migration routes of the Sockeye Salmon has to be monitored. Levels of effluent from industry has to be analyzed as well as run off from fish farms would need to be assessed. Careful and meticulous measurements of the entire ocean ecology need to be submitted as all the data would need to be considered. The intricate web of life in an ocean has many many factors the could cause problems or death of the sockeye salmon. The big picture which considers the health and vitality of the ocean along the migration path of the sockeye salmon needs to be assessed. Most likely it will not be one scientific factor that explains the loss, it will be necessary to look at all the contributing factors and make conclusions and recommendations from there.