Sunday, 3 May 2015

Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) – Editorial – DC Reid

The PSF asked me to do an editorial on the value of salmon/fishing to BC and what needs to be done to bring salmon back. Below is the text that ran in the Salmon Steward on April 6, 2015. You can get a PDF for the entire document from Elayne Sun, esun@PSF.CA.

Below the text is backup for revenue and salmon numbers.

Examining the massive impact B.C. salmon have on Canada’s economy


DC Reid is a B.C. poet, novelist and angling  writer

British Columbia’s calendar begins when salmon come back, and resident and non-residents alike eagerly take to the waters. Salmon are more than just fish to British Columbians. They compose a socio-economic backbone for aboriginal and non-aboriginals alike. Even BC vegetation responds. Fifteen percent of carbon in cedar trees 1000 years old comes from salmon toted into the woods by bears, wolves and eagles. With almost a million square kilometres, less than a tenth of the country, British Columbia has 99.8% of the salmon (that’s 42,900% more than the rest of Canada). In turn, we issue 300,000 freshwater licenses, 300,000 salt-water licences, and 200 First Nations licenses, comprising almost a third of all Canadian licenses.

Expenditures on salmon capture and freshwater fishing topped $1.716 Billion in 2014. If we add the commercial and processing sectors, the value is: $2.52 billion. We need to protect our fish because, for example, in the Strait of Georgia, there has been no commercial fishery for more than 20 years, and the sport fleet is a spectre of what it once was. Fixing the Salish Sea’s Georgia Strait could add $200 million in additional revenue, more than $2.72 billion in total, and that is only part of our 25,000 km shoreline. Salmon are that important.

Need for Change

But there are problems to solve on the way to prosperity. We need to accelerate the use of land-based fish farms. The Namgis First Nations are proving that closed-containment land-based aquaculture can be an economically viable option through their Kuterra farmed salmon brand. Additionally, our science must adapt to climate change which results in dry hot water in summer and floods in winter. We need to know the genetics of fish that can stand extremes.

A century’s logging damage must be addressed along with 77,000 culverts that prevent fish movement and spawning. Habitat work costs millions. Passing the responsibility to B.C. from Ottawa could help strengthen support for provincial salmon needs.— Last year Ottawa’s total B.C. program was $0.9 million, when one clay bank project on the Cowichan cost at $1.5 million a few years ago. Not enough.

The $25 million Salmon Enhancement Program needs to be taken out of the Conservation and Protection standard object — where it is whittled down as a freebie for the West — and placed in its own budget along with the new announcement of $4 million for salmon enhancement in the east.

A drastic interim need is widespread netpens for sterilized Chinook to address food needs for imperiled killer whale populations that now only consist of 78 individuals, with the residual adding to winter fisheries and adult returnees. There is little genetic issue with fish that cannot reproduce and there is little competition for food with wild fish, because there are so few wild Salish Sea Chinook. Ending the herring roe harvest would improve salmon numbers, too, allowing us to slowly replace netpens with wild Pacific Chinook in Georgia Strait.

Salmon Need Habitat and Money

The Pacific Salmon Foundation has a vital role in bringing back wild Pacific salmon. The most important role is improving habitat for salmon. Additionally, the Freshwater Fisheries Society that puts out 8 million freshwater trout, and has a well-developed marketing program that could be adapted to salt water, too.

In terms of funding, the $1.8 Million Salmon Conservation Stamp revenue was dedicated to the Foundation recently. I think the Salmon Conservation Stamp should quadruple to $24 per licence, making the amount $7.2 million per year. At the same time, the federal and B.C. governments could make matching contributions making available $21.6 million for habitat reconstruction. This annual amount would comprise a sound base given the community groups that the Foundation funds ability to leverage dollars some seven-times, through donations and in-kind contributions in for work and equipment used. Let’s bring them back one at a time and let’s do it in British Columbia.

Now, let me show you how I derived the financial figures and fish number figures.

1.      Revenue

The financial numbers were derived from several reports. We normally say it is a billion for angling, but when I looked deeper into the reports, and accounted for processing and commercial, updated for inflation, found separate figures for fresh and salt angling, the figure came in much higher. Note that my purpose was saying what the total value of salmon/fishing is to BC, not simply sport revenue.

My estimate should be conservative, as I made no inflation adjustment for the BCFFSBC figure, and used $200 M for Salish Sea potential, rather than the high end of $400M or higher.

1.      BC Stats Report: $344.8M Commercial + 427.5M Processing  = $772.3 for Commercial and Processing = $806.4M updated for inflation.
(See my site for the table and link to the BC Stats report:

2.      The BC Freshwater Fishing Society document says freshwater alone is: $957M.
(Freshwater Angling and the B.C. Economy –  Megan Bailey (Environmental Policy Group, Wageningen, UR) and U. Rashid Sumaila (Fisheries Centre, UBC), 2012). I made no adjustment for CPI.

3.      From a DFO report I found for tidal waters direct sport expenditures on investments: $706.0M, updated for inflation = $758.7M.
 Total: $806.4M + $957M + $758.7 = $2.52Billion.
4.    Then I added the mid-range value from the stats on the Salish Sea derived for the PSF: $200M 
Grand total: $2.52B + $.2B = $2.72 Billion
2.      Fish Numbers

A.    Atlantic Salmon

I was simply stunned to find out that all Atlantic salmon, in six provinces, half the country (and you can add Maine in, too) was only 170,000 adult salmon at sea. I think that this alone explains why DFO in Ottawa does not get BC.

See the graph in this document: You will note that the numbers of Atlantics has been below the lowest threshold for fisheries of 213,000 for more than 20 years.

B.     Wild BC Salmon

As for wild BC salmon, I looked over five DFO and PFRCC reports and settled on three for most of the data:

Riddell on northern BC: QC Sound to Portland Canal.

Mark Johannes: Transboundary rivers in North BC

Marc Labelle, PFRCC Doc, 2009 for southern BC: Can be found on the PSF site.

There were problems with data and methods: data holes, differing methods, for ex, aerial survey versus on foot, flood years, methodological differences, estimated figures, graphs with trends but no current figure, different models and so on. I spent three full days figuring out the numbers of fish from all systems in BC.

Where needed, I made assumptions of what seemed the most reasonable fish figures in comparable years. For escapement in an average year, meaning in-river after all fisheries, the wild BC salmon number is 38.62 million salmon. The number of salmon in the ocean before all fisheries is about twice that size or 72.65 million salmon. To figure out a mega-year in-ocean number of salmon before fisheries, I scoured the documents for peak year numbers, for example, in the Fraser, add 15M for extra sockeye, and 20M for pinks, and this came out to 128.05M wild salmon in BC.

Now, BC’s percent of all Canadian salmon, in an average year, is: 72.65M / .17M + 72.65M = 99.8% of all the salmon in Canada. The six eastern provinces have only .2% of all salmon.

Similarly, BC has 72.82M / .17M = 42,835% more salmon than the rest of Canada.

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