Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Salmon foundation tallies the losses of the BC fisheries industries

The latest examination of BC’s troubled fishing industry has been provided by the Pacific Salmon Foundation, which peered into the different levels of the BC fishery both commercial and sport.

They’re findings reflect an industry that has seen massive change over the years and still struggles to keep its resonance as part of the British Columbia fabric.
The report comes out in the same week that the Vancouver Sun examined the troubled state of the commercial fishery in British columbia with an article from the papers Larry Pynn. He takes the reader through some of the history of the once dominant industry of the province, which now struggles for its very survival. Through his article we can see the numerous cycles of development in the resource and how those glory days are most likely gone forever.

The Daily News provided some background on the foundations’ report as well highlighting the different observations of the report and what it may provide for in the future of the fishery and its impact on the way of life for many on the north coast. Their reivew was the front page headline story for the Monday edition.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation says ‘gaps’ in understanding have been explored in report
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, November 3, 2008
Pages one and three

A new report from the Pacific Salmon Foundation details the economics of the Skeena salmon fisheries, and concludes that overall the commercial and sport fisheries have shown a combined net loss of $3 million in recent years.

The report, entitled Economic Dimensions of Skeena Watershed Salmonid Fisheires, is an associated report to the Skeena Independent Science Review Panel Report released in May 2008, and analyzes the commercial fishery extensively. The sport fishery is not profiled in as much detail and the Aboriginal fishery only briefly, but the report does conclude that of the $68 million in economic impacts that all Skeena salmon fisheries provide, the sport sector contributes the lion’s share at $52.8 million.

In their economic report, Counterpoint Consulting found that, similar to what the Science Review Panel noted earlier this year, there was a lack of data available and disparities in the data collected by managing agencies in all fisheries, and the report advises that the quality of data on Skeena salmon fisheries should be improved if DFO hopes to manage fishery resources well and achieve their conservation and allocation objectives.

The report also reiterated that the key elements to a successful selective fishery are “appropriate incentives, supported by regulation and enforcement,” elements not currently in place in the Skeena.

“A much bigger upside or more significant change in how the (commercial) fleet is structured and managed is required to make the active fleet, whatever its size, more profitable, economically viable, and sustainable,” states the report’s executive summary.

“The adverse economic state of the commercial harvesting sector is due in large part to the reduced harvests and prices seen in the last cycle relative to previous cycles. What the future holds in terms of abundance and harvest remains to be seen but DFO managers believe the future will be more like the most recent cycle than those that preceded it.”

The economic report also noted that while Skeena stocks are only a fraction of the overall throughput for salmon processors, salmon from the river are prized by customers for the their superior attributes, and stakeholders worry that processors in Prince Rupert could suffer with diminished access to renowned Skeena sockeye.

Based on case studies, the report advises that cooperation and salesmanship can generate awareness and incremental returns for Skeena salmon stakeholders, and that ‘healthy catches do not guarantee a healthy bottom line.” The authors claim that while B. C.’s salmon fishery is not suited to support value-adding, there’s nothing stopping players form finding and exploiting a competitive advantage or locating in the Prince Rupert area.

Other conclusions the report comes to are that in-river producers can also capitalize on the abundance of salmon caviar, and that innovation and addressing market needs are important aspects of fishery reform.

“We must do all that we can to support positive change in the Skeena watershed that will ensure a future for the incredibly valuable Pacific salmon that call the system home,” said Dr. Paul Kariya, executive director of the PSF.

“This economic study begins to fill in much-needed gaps to inform improved fisheries management on the Skeena.”

Like the Skeena independent Science Review Panel Report, the economic study was commissioned by the Pacific Salmon Foundation, supported by DFO and the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, and funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The full 122- page report can be viewed and downloaded online at

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