“Human Dimensions of Skeena Salmon Fisheries” ; A CFRN paper

Here is another email to DFO Regional Director General Rebecca Reid. This one deals with a paper presented to a commercial fishing organisations AGM in Halifax the other day. UFAWU reps are in attendance there.

The paper purports to be a study of the human dimensions of Skeena river salmon fisheries. Obviously since it is funded by commercial industry it is going to be pretty biased. Read below for our take on the paper. ( Our editorial comments are in red in the paper)


Ms Reid,

Just for your information, please see below a copied ‘paper’ presented to a Canadian Fisheries Research Network conference in Halifax today. Obviously this paper has a very narrow perspective coming from commercial fishing proponents but it does have some interesting conclusions.

What is interesting is that an upriver steelhead advocate would read these very same conclusions with a totally different perspective than a marine commercial fisherman. We would agree with their basic premise that social and economic considerations should be incorporated more into harvest planning by DFO, especially the negative impacts of non-selective capture fisheries on other ‘industries’ such as the steelhead sport-fishery tourism industry.

And as the commercial fishing industry on the north coast continues its long term decline the management importance placed on it should also decline. The fishery management focus should be on selectively harvesting whatever fish surpluses are now occasionally available while not harming other more successful industries. Salmon should not be used primarily as welfare to subsidize failing industries.

That is why we cannot comprehend the continuation of the Department’s PICFI program that keeps an oversupply of licenses and boats in the declining commercial fishing industry. For the health of the fishery in general PICFI should have been a license retirement program not a transfer program.

Overall, we find the paper has a certain irony to it as for decades the social and economic perspective of upriver resource users has been totally marginalised by these very same coastal commercial industry advocates and yet now they plead for some form of acknowledgement of their social and economic interests.

Hope you find the paper of interest.


Researcher: Eric Angel1

Supervisor(s): Evelyn Pinkerton1

Partners/Key Collaborators: Joy Thorkelson2, Mabel Mazurek3, Henry Clifton4

Affiliation(s): 1Simon Fraser University, 2United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union-UNIFOR, 3Northern Native Fishing Corporation, 4Native Brotherhood of British Columbia

CFRN Project 1.1: Enhanced fisheries knowledge for an evolving management regime


This research examines wellbeing, equity, and governance in the Skeena River salmon fisheries on the north coast of British Columbia. A combination of ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, focus groups, archival and secondary source research was used to collect data that were then analyzed using elements of the fisheries evaluation framework developed by Project 1.1. (Typical industry tunnel vision as no non-industry people or inland people were interviewed or had input.)
People living on the northern coast of BC conceptualize personal and collective wellbeing as it relates to salmon resources in a holistic, integrated fashion that is grounded in a deep sense of place and articulated as a multi-dimensional web of benefits and beneficiaries.

• The changing distribution of benefits from salmon fisheries on the north coast of British Columbia over the past twenty years has been driven primarily by political and economic factors in spite of the management focus on conservation pursuant to the Wild Salmon Policy. (Says the coastal fishermen who don’t want to share the public  salmon resource with inland selective commercial fishermen and an upriver steelhead tourism industry.)

• The integration of social and economic considerations into trade-off decisions and harvest planning continues to be a challenge for DFO in spite of a historical policy and operational legacy that could help overcome the challenge. ( obviously we do not agree with these terms: ‘historical policy’ equals longterm DFO industry bias…and ‘operational legacy’ is just code for ‘continuing to do things as weve always done’ from the commercial fishermen)

• The stakeholder consultation process in salmon fisheries in British Columbia is an expensive and time-consuming exercise in governance that fails to achieve adequate results because of institutional design flaws. (Translated: the coastal fishermen are disappointed to lose their monopoly on DFO decision making and access to the resource due to other users wanting their voices to be heard.)

• The governance of salmon fisheries in British Columbia encourages lobbying behaviour by participants at the expense of fostering cooperation and building institutional legitimacy. (Ridiculous comment coming from an industry that had an historical monopoly on lobbying DFO decision making for decades….now crying because other user have some little input)
The fisheries evaluation framework developed by Project 1.1 provides a useful set of tools and concepts to study the human dimensions of fisheries in Canada.
The results of this study suggest that DFO should devote more effort to incorporating social and economic dimensions of fisheries into harvest planning. (Completely agree: a wider scope of public input into fishery management needs to occur. The extractive industry focus of the past should not be continued. Plus, the negative impacts of harvest should be more fully incorporated into any harvest examination: killing of valuable species as bycatch should be fully considered before allowing harvest. Abundance of target species should not be the only deciding factor to open fisheries.)

• The research findings also suggest that governance could do more to encourage cooperative behaviours through increased transparency, accountability and shared responsibility. (Completely agree: Every instance of commercial industry lobbying DFO should be available to the public. DFO staff should be accountable for every decision regarding harvest and any negative impacts due to that harvest.)

Posted in Fishery Management, fishery politics, sustainable fishing


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