Monday, December 07, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Monday, December 7, 2009

DFO delivers some worrisome news, a small step back for the new Prince Rupert medical clinic and Awards Night in Prince Rupert, some of the items of note from the Monday news cycle.

Daily News, Front page, headline story
DFO MAKES EARLY PREDICTIONS FOR NEXT SEASON'S SALMON RUN-- Much of the same as this past season is in store for northwest fishermen in 2010, as DFO outlined their thoughts on predictions for the Sockeye run on the North coast which is expected to be a poor return year. DFO anticipates a return of but 663,000 sockeye on the Skeena in the summer of 2010, a number which would once again see the seine and gill net fleets sidelined for the season. Combined with the anticipation of a poor pink year, 2010 is shaping up to be a worrisome situation for the North coast fishing industry, enough so that some are calling for an inquiry into the state of the Skeena fishery to go with the soon to begin Fraser River inquiry.

The planned opening fo a primary health clinic in the old Green Clinic building is on hold temporarily, with a revised opening set for the new year. The setback came as one of the expected physicians for the clinic has decided to take a pass on setting up practice in Prince Rupert. Dr. Herman Greeff is still committed to the project as is a nurse practitioner, Toby Hilton, they will be joined by two new doctors to the region set to arrive in February and June.

The Daily blows some more life into the wind power industry on the North coast with a look at the latest proposal that of a wind farm for the Port Edward area. Rupert Peace Power Corporation were in town on Thursday to outline their proposed development for Mount McDonald and Smith Island in Port Edward. Their timeline for development would see construction begin in 2011, providing the necessary environmental permits are received after consultation with Port Edward residents.

The Sports section featured High School wrestling, the Prince Rupert Rampage and the weekend activities of the local Midget hockey squad.

(Daily News Archive Articles links for December 7th )

The Northern View
No new items posted to their website on Monday

CFTK TV 7 News
Civic Recognition Dinner-- Arnold Wick, Stephen Smith, Walter Smith and Charlotte Rowse will be recognized by the City on Monday night, as the four are presented with awards at a civic reception at the Museum of Northern British Columbia. (see article here)

CBC British Columbia, Daybreak North
No items for Monday were updated on the CBC Daybreak website
Daily News, Front page, headline story
DFO makes early predictions for next season’s salmon run
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, December 7, 2009

Federal scientists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada are painting a lean picture for the 2010 salmon season.

Meeting with stakeholders at the Highliner Inn last weekend, DFO representatives said that they expect the 2010 season on the Skeena to be disastrous for Sockeye, Pinks and Chinook.
Senior DFO biologist Steve Cox-Rogers laid out what he believes to be the likely Sockeye run on the North Coast River.

“If I was to bet, we are going to have a poor Skeena return,” said Cox-Rogers.

The 2010 season is based on the 2005-06 brood years, and Cox-Rogers told a large audience inside the Metlakatla room that DFO expects a return of 663,000 sockeye to the Skeena this summer.

That number would appear to be too low to allow gillnet and seine fishermen an opening for the valuable sockeye runs, especially in Prince Rupert areas 4 and 5. The bad news comes after a disastrous 2009 when the sockeye season was virtually closed on the North Coast. Only Area 3 – North Chatham Sound and Portland Inlet – opened and the DFO recorded a catch of 103,000 fish for gillnet fishers and 13,523 for seine fishers.

Fishing vessels with only area 4 gillnet licenses did not fish in 2009 and only two seine boats with a limited opening for pinks made their way to the area.

Bob Burkowsky, owner of gillnet boat the BC Maid II, told the Daily News that he was very disappointed to hear the news, but that it was still early yet and the spring forecast may indeed bring better news.

“I haven’t had a chance to review the results of the meetings. I am expecting to hear more Monday, but I guess it means we have to take a serious look at whether it’s worth actually travelling to Rupert for those of us who live down south,” said Burkowsky.

Pinks provided a better than expected season for seine fishers in 2009. According the DFO’s year in review, 7 million pinks were caught on the North Coast when few were expected to return and little economic opportunity was expected out of the fish.

United Fishermen and Allied Workers representative in Prince Rupert, Joy Thorkelsen, said, based on DFO reports Friday, that she was expecting a poor pink year in 2010.

“The DFO is predicting, right now, a complete collapse of pinks,” reported Thorkelsen, “but we don’t have any idea what the real pinks return will be and we’ll have a more accurate estimate during the spring.”

The poor prediction might renew calls for a public inquiry into the Skeena to match the one that has been called for the Fraser River. So far, the federal government has remained cool towards the idea.

A Tsimshian leader said that Friday’s predictions were more than just bad news and that the federal government should investigate what is happening on the Skeena,
Kitsumkalum Chief Councillor Don Roberts said he was worried that all the attention was being paid to the south and that the north should be a concern as well.

“They should be doing an inquiry on the sockeye from the Gulf Islands all the way to Alaska. We should know the exact harvest rate on the ocean. We need to know what people are fishing,” said Roberts.

One of the concerns coming from the meeting was the lack of solid information on what sport fishermen are catching both on the Skeena and on the North Coast.

DFO employs six to seven enforcement officers for the entire Prince Rupert area and there are questions on whether or not this adequately patrols the Skeena during poor salmon seasons.

“During July at the Kalum fishing bar (near Terrace) we’ve seen 100 sport boats of two-to-three people on them. You don’t want to stop everyone, but we’re not coming clean about what we are catching,” commented Roberts.

However, Des Nobles, a former fishermen and salmon advocate, said that an inquiry on the Skeena may not be necessary.

Nobels said much could be gleaned from the Fraser inquiry, because to him the importance of the federal analysis of the 2009 salmon season there would have major implications for the Skeena.

“It’s not a question of blame. It is a question of the shortcomings of DFO management. And that can be found on the South Coast or the North Coast.”

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