March 28, 2018
To all CBSM members,
- DFO has bogged down again
- The mandate question is resolved
- CBSM continues to pursue answers / engages DFO in conference call
- The Coalition heads into its 2nd year / memberships to remain active
1) DFO has bogged down again. You will recall from our last Coalition news e-mail of January 5th that we had updated you on two initiatives that DFO had begun - the PA test case and the NBRSFMT project. At that time, we reported that "DFO was out of the mud"; unfortunately, it appears that they couldn't "keep it between the ditches" and are once again stuck. In late November DFO announced that two meetings on the PA would be held in January, one with First Nations to begin the PA process for FSC fisheries and another with NGOs to discuss the "upper stock reference points". Neither of these meetings has as yet been held, and while the NBRSFMT project working group continues to deliberate; at a recent consultation meeting attended by the CBSM on March 1st, it was announced by the project coordinator that they would be seeking a three-month extension to their March 31st deadline for the completion of phase 1. It had been hoped that both of these undertakings would have provided some tangible results by this spring, but this will not be the case. The critical PA initiative has stalled and the angling "transformation" project delayed. It was in anticipation of just such developments that the CBSM submitted our proposal for 2018 to DFO-Gulf on Dec.4th /17; hopefully it is being given due consideration.
2) The mandate question is resolved. In mid-December we received a letter from the Regional Director General for DFO-Gulf written on behalf of the Minister, which addressed the question of DFO's mandate to manage First Nation FSC fisheries. You will recall that the second area of focus for the Coalition was the harvesting of large salmon in FSC fisheries. Discussions on this subject with DFO officials was, for the most part, held in abeyance through 2017 while we pursued a clarification of understanding concerning DFO's mandate to manage these fisheries via the Minister's office. The take away message from the December letter is that DFO does have the mandate to manage and that it is not contingent on the status of recreational C&R angling fisheries. CBSM subsequently replied to the letter by way of an e-mail to the RDG-Gulf in which we restated the conclusion drawn from the letter received, and the Minister's office was copied accordingly. Coincidentally, resolution to the question was also affirmed by DFO at the PA management sessions held last fall where it was made clear that the PA management methodology would be applied to all fisheries. With clarity attained, we look forward to DFO moving ahead on addressing our call for the temporary suspension of large salmon harvests until stocks recover as part of their PA initiative and the implementation of river-by-river management.
3) CBSM continues to pursue answers / engages DFO in conference call. In February CBSM forwarded three letters to DFO, one on each of our three focus areas. On March 5th three members of the Steering Committee participated in a conference call with five DFO-Gulf personnel (Moncton HQ office); these being the RDG, the Regional Director Science, the Director Resource & Aboriginal Fisheries Management, and two other management personnel. The three letters formed the agenda for the conference call. On the subject of Striped Bass we raised the need to address the impact on smolt survival, and cited the recently published ASF/DFO report on Striped Bass predation of smolts within the estuary of the Miramichi system. DFO expects to have established an "upper stock reference point" for Striped Bass (population objective) sometime in April and will be bringing forth some regulation changes for 2018. The topic of Striped Bass occupying in-river salmon habitat was also dealt with. On the subject of MSW harvests, we called upon DFO to provide their perspective and objectives with regard to the FSC fisheries noting that DFO Science has identified MSW's as the critical component upon which stock recruitment depends. No specifics or intentions were relayed by DFO beyond the comment that MSW harvests are always a consideration in their negotiations with First Nations. We concluded that portion of the conference call by making the point that the two fisheries, (angling and FSC) are intertwined and need to be managed as a whole. We noted that the PA initiative offers the opportunity to see the subject addressed in 2018 and encouraged DFO to proceed.
The majority of the conference call discussion was with regard to our first focus area - keeping anglers on our rivers and fostering stewardship of the resource. Specifically, we were seeking an answer as to where our proposal of Dec. 4th /17 stood in terms of consideration; given the circumstances outline in news item #1 above. DFO had in-fact formulated a response to this letter and the RDG had signed off on it that morning. Our first point was that people are definitely expecting to see some movement towards river-by-river management in 2018, and that should DFO opt for yet another year of status quo, they risk a loss of support for the two initiatives they had begun and a further decline in participation and stewardship. A second point was that DFO had to respond to the fact that five of eight NGO's who spoke to the subject at the Dec. 14th annual advisory committee meeting had advised DFO that they wanted to see some move towards re-engaging anglers by the allocation of a few tags in 2018 and to once again say "we're working on it but it is too late to doing anything this year" would not be well received. On this second point we raised the issue that it is the "bright salmon" season that people are looking towards in terms of some positive movement by DFO in 2018. Given that this season doesn't really kick in until mid-June there is still time to put measures in place and all it would take, prior to the start of the angling season on April 15th, is for DFO to announce that some angling regulation changes are in the offing for the "bright" season to encourage participation and involvement.
Lastly, on this news item, the letter referred to above was received on March 6th and the CBSM responded to it using the Restigouche system as an example of where DFO could easily move to start down the road of better management in 2018. The science is there to support a modest two tag Grilse allocation (virtually no impact on egg deposition), angling effort is highly regulated, and the inequity in regulations between Quebec and New Brunswick on the boundary waters should not continue. We often hear from DFO that their management decisions are driven by science-based evidence; well that is a two-way street and people can rightly ask - what is the science-based evidence that would support a status quo decision. In our letter of reply we concluded with this statement "It is time to get past the ideological debate over a limited grilse harvest and get on with the job of rebuilding the resource". So that is where we are at. Hopefully DFO will reply as well to the other two letters submitted and we will have the opportunity to continue discussions. For the moment it appears that DFO is preparing to again "sit on their hands" as we await yet another 11th hour decision.
4) The Coalition heads into a 2nd year / memberships to remain active. We have made our push, but our work is not yet done. DFO is still on the status quo highway and may yet bypass the road to better management. Until DFO has actually implemented some positive change, the Coalition will continue its advocacy work. The Steering Committee last met on February 24th and has begun to look ahead. We have compiled a financial statement for year one and lately made phone contact with a number of members to assess e-mail reception and continuing support. It had come to our attention that some members were failing to receive the Coalition correspondence being sent out. Apparently, the issue is one of individual computer, or mobile phone, e-mail "spam" settings whereby CBSM "blind copy" correspondence is being shunted to their spam/discard file. If you know a friend or neighbour who is a CBSM member, please check to see if he, or she, has received this latest Coalition news mail out and if not suggest they check their spam file. Alternatively, suggest that they visit our website at salmonnb.com ; all of the Coalition news mail outs are available online via the website. Also, if you haven't checked out the website yourself, we would encourage you to do so. We have recently posted some numbers and other info. from the Restigouche and are awaiting a summary of ASF kelt and smolt ocean tracking results which the ASF is putting together and will be made available on our website.
On the financial side, if you were wondering about membership renewal or annual dues, please note that the Steering Committee has addressed the question and concluded that there is no need to renew your membership or submit any annual dues. Under our Coalition format your membership remains active and sufficient funds are on hand for us to carry on. As we stated at the outset, the call has been for support not dollars. We are not a money organization and our expenses to date have been primarily for printed material, space rental for some meetings, maintenance of our website, and some gas reimbursement for distant meetings. Revenues have been 74% from membership fees and 26% from donations such that one year in we are still solvent with 64% of total revenues remaining on account. A copy of the financial statement is available to members upon request as are the minutes from Steering Committee meetings.
Currently our membership stands at 1,170. You can support the Coalition's continuing effort by signing up a new member. Just get name, location, e-mail address and phone number and pass the information along to our secretary via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 506-836-7545. The online option is also available via our website.
For those of you who have managed to read so far as to have reached this line; I would apologize for the length of this e-mail newsletter. It is hard to relay information and keep the text short. In year two I expect there will be some rotation and restructing within the Steering Committee and maybe our next Chairperson will be able to be more concise.
Tight lines to all for the upcoming season !
Steering Committee Chair - CBSM