Roundtable-QCI/Haida Gwaii-Oct 2006
QCI/HAIDA GWAII ROUND TABLE
SEHAB Rep – George Farrell
Community Involvement Area – Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii
Community Advisor – Christina Engel
1. DFO Capacity
In contrast to Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) written and verbal
communications to the public about support for volunteerism and stewardship, the Community Involvement Program (CIP) and Advisor (CA) have taken a significant budget cut on the North Coast (15%+). This appears to be an area management financial strategy and similar cuts to CIP are not being experienced in other areas of the Pacific Region. Although the extent of program delivery damage can only be measured after the fact, the 30 year volunteer commitment fostered through the CIP on Haida Gwaii is being squandered by short sited Area management decisions.
I believe it is imperative that DFO return the CIP to its own Regional Division which would avoid area managers making financial decisions which have a negative impact by area. For DFO to truly show support to the volunteer stewardship community they should put the money where their mouth is and return CIP to its rightful position as a priority. We should all be demanding a Pacific Region Community Involvement Division supported by its own Regional staff outside the area management model.
2. Stock Assessment
For the most part stock assessment on Haida Gwaii continues to be off the DFO radar.
The consistent and accurate collection of data concerning the timing and migration of local stocks is the basis of any salmon management plan or “science based” plan including the WSP. The collection of this data has been reduced to a dangerously low level by DFO over the last 20 years. DFO has made a good choice by supporting one coho fence count on the Tlell River. However, over the last 3 years fence counts, AUC counts, and the patrolman counts have been reduced to an unacceptable level. Please read Patrolman Pettigrew’s letter to the Minister and replies on the web site sehab.org.
The Tllel Watershed Society (TWS) has forged successful partnerships to continue operating the only adult counting fence on Haida Gwaii. The CIP continues to be the most consistent supporter and funder. The North Coast and QCI Sports Fish Advisory Boards successfully lobbied DFO North Coast Stock Assessment to financially support this vital project last year and again this year. We hope this is part of a DFO strategy to consistency support data collection for the implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy. Other important funders for this fence have been: QCI Salmon Unlimited, Pacific Salmon Foundation and Gwaii Trust. The new video counting system has been purchased and installed. Coho migration has been slow to date because of low water levels.
3. Planning Team
Christina Engel, DFO Community Advisor, did put together a broodstock planning meeting with the support of Brian Anderson. Hopefully this is a first step in returning the planning team concept to the CIP on the QCI/Haida Gwaii.
Before the advent of “New Direction”, restructure and Resource Restoration Teams, a yearly planning meeting with the Community Advisor, technician, engineer and biologist (the “planning team”) was held. This included site visits to volunteers, CEDP facilities, hatcheries, fences and new projects for on the ground trouble shooting. This planning has rarely happened since restructure. The Resource Restoration Team has recently been doing good work in partnership with MoT on problem culverts; however, it has chosen not to participate in biological and technical planning for CIP in a number of years.
Many on Haida Gwaii believe that a return to a separate Community Involvement Division within DFO along with dedicated planning teams for each Community Advisor’s area is a number 1 priority. At the very least a region wide standard of planning should be established for all areas.
a. Good relations between Hecate Strait Streamkeepers, Parks Canada, Haida
Fisheries (HFP) and DFO Community Involvement continue. HSS and HFP completed stream and juvenile assessment, and strategic, low tech stream restoration on selected streams on Lyell Island in July and August. Adult Coho and Chum enumeration on 7 Lyell Island streams will start in mid October. In an abrogation of its responsibility and mandate DFO has no plans to inspect any of dozens of streams south of Darwin Sound this year.
b. Students from local schools have been on field trips to observe spawning salmon and will be participating in coho egg takes later this month. Josina Davies will complement this education program by continuing to provide Ocean curriculum in Haida Gwaii classrooms.
c. Partnerships between Salmon Unlimited and the Port Clements Salmon Enhancement Club have been progressing. Salmon Unlimited has financially supported the hatchery upgrade. The possibility of locating a coho counting fence in Masset Inlet (Kumdis River) is also being investigated.
d. The partnership between the Pallant Creek Hatchery (Haida Fisheries), Northern Trollers (NTA), and Hecate Strait Streamkeepers in the chum enhancement program in Selwyn Inlet continues. The hatchery and camp at Sewell Inlet have been closed so chum eggs are being incubated and fry reared at Pallant Creek Hatchery.
e. CA Christina Engel and HSS technical support managed to get a few thousand Chum eggs for Dass Creek. Water levels have been very low along with chum returns, making it difficult to obtain broodstock. Broodstock collection for the south shore
f. Skidegate Inlet chum enhancement program (NTA & HSS) has collect 100,000 eggs to date.
g. The Ministry of Highways has partnered with Salmon Unlimited, DFO, and Hecate Strait Streamkeepers to improve culvert and fish passage problems along Highway
16. This positive involvement of a provincial government Ministry has been very
encouraging for volunteers. h. A “Northern Regional Watershed Roundtable Inaugural Meeting” sponsored by
Pacific Salmon Foundation and Enbridge Pipelines Inc. was held in Terrace Sept 8/9. The original “regional” area and invitation did not include Haida Gwaii. The anticipated outcome of this meeting was “to support or not support a regional process” and “to develop a framework for seeking funding…and prioritize allocation of funding resources.” No volunteers from Haida Gwaii were able to commit 3 days to attend this meeting. Some volunteers have expressed concern about possible partnerships with companies connected to the shipping of toxic condensate on our coast. I have not received a report on participation or outcomes of this meeting.
i. DFO’s Multi-Interest Dialogue Session was held in Prince Rupert’s Fisherman’s Hall October 4 & 5. There was good participation from the commercial fishing and native communities but little from the stewardship community. The session’s purpose was to provide information and consult with session participants on the Wild Salmon Policy, Fisheries Reform, the Environmental Process Modernization Plan (EPMP) and species proposed for listing under the Species at Risk Act. Several key issues/policies from participants were evident at this session:
i. DFO should immediately stop supporting open net salmon aquaculture as part of the Wild Salmon Policy. Money currently invested in Aquaculture should be invested in the field monitoring of the Wild Salmon Policy. Additional monies should be budgeted by Ottawa to support data collection (on the water, real time, real people) to support a science based monitoring of successes and failures in the creation of Conservation Units and Habitat Status Assessment Monitoring. The Wild Salmon Policies success depends on adequate monitoring which at this time is missing.
ii. Fisheries Reform. The ITQ Area F troll Chinook so called “demonstration fishery” was not “voluntary” as there was no real choice for commercial fisherman wishing to fish while chinook were in the area. More importantly ITQ’s will eliminate the owner operator which is the backbone of our small communities. The creation of ITQ’s privatizes a common resource and is being resisted by coastal communities and the active fishing community.
iii. EPMP-This plan requires active monitoring and the lack of funds to support field staff is evident. Business and individuals who alter or damage fish habitat are “users” of the resource and should be managed and regulated at least as closely as commercial fisherman.