Ottawa Emerges on the Stamp

Finally, five months after sending a registered letter direct to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau detailing my repeated unsuccessful attempts to have     staff of his Department of Fisheries and Oceans respond to long outstanding correspondence concerning steelhead catches in commercial and First Nations fisheries in the Somass River and its ocean approaches, I find a letter in my mailbox. Its too good not to share. Remember, this business of the stonewalling by DFO at every level has been carefully documented in previous posts on this site (e.g. “The System is Rigged”, Dec  5/16;  “Requiem for the Stamp”, Feb 26/17)

 

Well B. Funes, all I can say is nice try. Its hard for me to imagine how anyone charged with the responsibility to respond to the material I have forwarded to various officials within DFO, from local “managers” in Port Alberni through Minister Dominic LeBlanc and his Parliamentary Secretary, Terry Beech, could come back with such a feeble brush off. Not even a cc to Minister LeBlanc or any of his charges?! You didn’t notice the reason I wrote to the Prime Minister originally was because of the clearly illustrated lack of acknowledgement or response to two previous messages sent to Minister LeBlanc?! Unforgivable. Perhaps B. Funes and everyone else in this food chain will enjoy reading more about these issues in the media. Stay tuned.

 

The next round? As we approach another sockeye season in and near the approaches to the Stamp/Somass system I refuse to see this issue buried for lack of attention by those responsible. Yes, I understand the forecast for the sockeye return is far less than would support a commercial fishery but I find nothing to suggest the First Nations fisheries (of which there are potentially several) won’t happen again. Ottawa, Vancouver and Port Alberni offices of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans need to be held accountable. In that context, here is my follow-up letter to the Prime Minister’s Executive Correspondence Officer.

 

May 3, 2017

 

B. Funes

Executive Correspondence Officer

Office of the Prime Minister

Ottawa, Canada K1A 0A2

 

Dear B. Funes:

 

Thank you for your letter dated April 19, 2017 in response to my own sent by registered mail to Prime Minister Trudeau on December 3, 2016. Forgive me for suggesting your apology for the delayed response is a bit lame, especially considering you didn’t bother to address any of the specifics I brought forward.

The reason I wrote Prime Minister Trudeau ought to have been crystal clear. To reiterate, numerous previous attempts to solicit responses from DFO officials over the preceding several months failed to generate even an acknowledgement, let alone answers to my questions and concerns. Two messages, complete with several supporting pieces of correspondence, sent to Minister Dominic LeBlanc in September of 2016, were included in the material to which you responded on behalf of the PM. The silence from Minister LeBlanc and any of his underlings (including his Parliamentary Secretary) has been deafening.

It is a sad commentary on the entire Department of Fisheries and Oceans and beyond that legitimate and well documented concerns brought to the attention of every level in the hierarchy go unaddressed for months only to be brushed aside with “While the Prime Minister appreciates being made aware of your interest, he will leave the matter to be considered by Minister LeBlanc”? At the very least, couldn’t you have copied Minister LeBlanc on your letter?

 Be assured B. Funes, you will be hearing more on these issues in days ahead.

 

Respectfully,

 

R.S. Hooton

Comments 5

  • I don’t know what will finally convince people to stop the gill netting of summer run steelhead Bob. Indeed the fact that they are the same size roughly as sockeye has doomed them in some respects because the netting cannot be species specific in size.

    The questions about exactly where they join the crowds getting ready to go up into fresh water is unanswered so there is very little that can yet be done to set up effective no fish zones.

    However perhaps if it was known precisely where the steelhead join in with the groups then the effects of gill netting could be lessened to some extent.

    This information could be gleamed with rfid tagging and very large numbers of sensors. The technology to do it is here but it would cost almost as much as stream restoration projects to mitigate all the habitat damage we have done on the Stamp and all the other systems here on the Island.

    Hopefully the upcoming provincial election might indicate that a great many people want to change the way we abuse our shared environment resource base. The disconnect between Ottawa and Victoria when it comes to the management of this precious land and especially the fisheries is a very convenient state of affairs for the current group of politico’s. It is standard practice to point at the other level of government if there are problems to be solve, so the problems are essentially buck passed back and forth. In a sense we have anadromous challenged politicians that can claim that each other is to blame for the loss of the fishery.

    A very sad state of affairs and a crime that our children might not forgive.

  • I can double what Eric Reesor said because I’ve fished the Stamp River for over 55 years. I also worked in Forestry since 1962 and watched the destruction of Vancouver Island’s forests. Any time I questioned authorities and my superiors I was told that they have it all under control. Now there is not one remaining old growth Douglas fir forest anywhere on the island, and they are cutting third growth forests at least 40 years before they mature. There is not enough old growth trees of any species to put on a legitimate scaling exam. over the past 60 years I have fished and explored over 900 rivers, creeks and streams on Vancouver Island.

  • Thank you Bob for your concern and diligence.
    Its hard to believe that hitting the brick wall repeatedly will do any good except that the documentation of it may provide a defense for other action.

  • Now that the Green Party has three seats in the Provincial Parliament and that they wield the balance of power in a minority government, there is no better time to pursue, with them, such sticky fisheries issues as those of our wild steelhead. Perhaps they can, at least, get some straight answers out of Ottawa regarding issues that are of Provincial importance. And, perhaps, they can instigate some movement by the Province on a shift in direction to a better model used to manage our fisheries and fishers.
    The time is now to literally flood the elected Green party MLAs offices with our letters of concern, disgust and our anticipation of better outcomes from them. Do not afford them a moments rest. They asked for the job, it is up to us to put them to the task. This is a new beginning, with a new way of thinking, which, for what it is worth, has been a long time coming – sixty-five years. We cannot afford to let it slip from our fingers through inactivity.

    • Rory, hopefully the party(s) in power will finally realize that over 16% of the population has become extremely concerned about how we are abusing our fisheries and the lands that sustains them. It is time to flood the entire system of government and the media with this message. I for one think it is also critical to see more of the media involved. We must finally understand that a change in the way we use all resources and especially river ecology is indeed critical to our economic/ecological future. In essence the ecology of a land is the economy.

      The situation on the Stamp is only the tip of the iceberg.

      I have a video camera and some time to spend on documenting things. Personally I will do what I can and post it to the web. We cannot rely upon the useless mantra of observe, record and report and at the same time decimate enforcement, this travesty also needs to be addressed.

      Perhaps shaming the offenders and the politicians in power on Youtube and the net is the only course of action that might have a positive effect.
      We cannot point fingers at individuals here, doing so will not effect change it will only create scapegoats.

      All we can do is elucidate the goings on to more people until the movement to change the way we abuse our core resources becomes a chorus of voices in unison.

      This goes much deeper than the over exploitation by the gill netting of migrating fish in the Somas. We have also almost lost the once incredible Nimpkish sockeye fishery through overexploitation. There is a chance that the extinction of what little wild sockeye and summer run steelhead there is left in these major systems on Vancouver Island will occur within the next 10 years if we do not act decisively immediately. Indeed the entire Fraser system sockeye/steelhead runs are in the same trouble. How far behind in this collapse is the Skeena systems? Maybe not in my life time but certainly within a few decades if we continue to abuse our fisheries without concern for our children’s futures.

      The prospect of seeing only hatchery sockeye in both the Somas/Stamp/Sprout and the Nimpkish/Woss is a distinct possibility and the few remaining summer run Steelhead will go with this loss because they by and large dependent upon a healthy Sockeye fishery to exist in these system at all. O. mykiss, both summer and winter run are the essential sign of a healthy Sockeye fishery everywhere, without out them what we are left with is somewhat akin to a west coast without essential predators.

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