Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Yukon salmon situation revisited

I'm "mildly" furious, and I didn't even have my catch restricted. Remember the restrictions on subsistence catch on the Yukon, that got everyone so riled up? Well, it turns out that the restrictions were un-necessary, because the sonar counts were in error.

That's right. The subsitance catch got restricted over faulty data.

[...] it turns out a sonar station used to count salmon -- a key source of cash and food along the river -- wasn't working correctly. More fish were making it upriver than estimated, meaning some of the restrictions may not have been necessary.

"We took some unprecedented measures because we thought the run was looking (to be) one of the poorest we've ever had," said Russ Holder, Yukon River federal fisheries manager. "In hindsight, it doesn't look as poor as those numbers indicated to us."


In hindsight, some of the restrictions probably weren't necessary, said Holder, with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We would have been OK without as severe conservation actions as we took," he said.

I don't know how fisheries people work, but I know how it goes on the wildlife side - if you're going to do anything with subsistence regs, anything at all, you have to be sure. You have to be damn sure. You have to dot your i's, cross your t's, you have independent replication of your data, and you have people staring over your shoulders to make sure you don't screw up. On our deer work in South East, not only did we do everything in multiple replicates, but we also had people independently do deer IDs, to quantify our error rate.

I'll refrain from tearing into the people who did the counts at pilot station until I know more, but from what I heard described, that's inexcusably shoddy. And if it is true, it's going to take a lot of angry people, and make them furious. It's going to lower future compliance in an already compliance-poor area. It's going to reduce trust of future management goals.

I'm seriously upset. And I know other people are going to want someone's butt on a silver platter over this. If this story pans out, it's a minor nightmare. Everyone knows you don't screw with subsistence unless you're damn sure.

1 comment:

dragonfly said...

Ugh, that's pretty bad. Way to sabotage management efforts, really- the trust factor there is crucial.