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Thread: Fraser River sockeye and why Carl Walters is correct

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    Default Fraser River sockeye and why Carl Walters is correct

    http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/943...ong-the-Fraser

    The above link is story about Fraser River sockeye salmon and having worked with Carl Walters on the Exxon Valdez review of the Skilak Lake sockeye studies I can tell you he is spot on. His recommendation to harvest when stocks are abundant and lower the exploitation rate when stocks are low is correct - but closure is seldom needed. He is advocating an exploitation rate model combined with variable escapement objectives.

    The ADF&G is making the same mistake with the trade-off between late run chinook salmon and sockeye salmon. The cost of a few hundred chinook below the MSY goal is not worth it from a biological or economic view.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/943...ong-the-Fraser

    The above link is story about Fraser River sockeye salmon and having worked with Carl Walters on the Exxon Valdez review of the Skilak Lake sockeye studies I can tell you he is spot on. His recommendation to harvest when stocks are abundant and lower the exploitation rate when stocks are low is correct - but closure is seldom needed. He is advocating an exploitation rate model combined with variable escapement objectives.

    The ADF&G is making the same mistake with the trade-off between late run chinook salmon and sockeye salmon. The cost of a few hundred chinook below the MSY goal is not worth it from a biological or economic view.
    So basically just kill the last of the Chinook and be done with it is what you are saying?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AaronP View Post
    So basically just kill the last of the Chinook and be done with it is what you are saying?
    Aaaargh!!! The Chinook he's talking about have NEVER missed the bottom side of their yield-based escapement goal, let alone a sustainability threshold. Never. A far cry from killing off the last of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AaronP View Post
    So basically just kill the last of the Chinook and be done with it is what you are saying?
    I am going to assume you do not understand the difference in goals and management approach. There is a huge difference between an MSY goal and a sustainable threshold. The MSY goal is maximum sustained yield and therefore giving up a few fish below it to allow other species to be closer to their goal and provide economic gain is a reasonable tradeoff. MSY goals are yield goals not conservation goals. Not meeting them means future yields may be impacted but the stock will be fine.

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    I understand perfectly. I also understand that goals have been lowered time and time again in order to "reach" them. My problem is that I don't believe in managing for maximum harvest.

    It just amazes me how some folks think it all fine and good when runs meet the bottom end of the "escapement goals". Seems like we should be aiming a little higher.

    Nerka, it is plainly clear that you are on the side of killing as much as possible and just allowing what you believe to be enough. My belief is much different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AaronP View Post
    I understand perfectly. I also understand that goals have been lowered time and time again in order to "reach" them. My problem is that I don't believe in managing for maximum harvest.

    It just amazes me how some folks think it all fine and good when runs meet the bottom end of the "escapement goals". Seems like we should be aiming a little higher.

    Nerka, it is plainly clear that you are on the side of killing as much as possible and just allowing what you believe to be enough. My belief is much different.
    You are showing your ignorance and I was trying to be kind to you in my response the first time. But if you want to get personal then that is your problem..

    First the minimum goal you mention is an MSY goal to maximize the harvest. Your comments above show clearly you do not understand this concept or that the bottom end of the range vs the top end give similar results in average yields Next the goals have not been lowered in order to reach them. The sockeye goals in all systems have been raised over the last three decades. Chinook goals are lower for early run but late run goals are higher. Coho goals are mixed depending on the system and available data.

    Also managers do not lower goals to meet them. If you read or knew anything about the process you would know the goals are set by a separate scientific team within ADF&G which is independent of managers from most areas. So your statement is just false.

    It is not clear I want to kill as much as possible as that would not be sustained fisheries management. Again a fairly ignorant statement. I tried to be kind to you in my response to your other posts which show you have little knowledge of fisheries science but if you want to debate fishery science then you better know what you are talking about if you are going to throw stones.

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    I couldn't read the entire article since it was password protected. Perhaps someone could cut and paste.

    However, Nerka's summary of Carl Walters premise is similar to how fisheries are managed on the Columbia Rv. Salmon fisheries are managed on a "sliding scale" where the exploitation rate is high (as a percentage of the run) when the pre-season forecast is high (as compared to the 10 year average). Conversely, the exploitation rate is much lower when the pre-season forecast is low. But this only works well when there is a fairly accurate pre-season forecast. If the pre-season forecast has lots of variability (e.g., spring Chinook), setting the exploitation rate gets really dicey, especially when you have to manage under the incidental take limits of the ESA. I would disagree that complete closures may not be necessary, given the variability in the pre-season forecast. If the confidence intervals around the average result in the possibility of dipping below replacement levels, or are approaching ESA limits, precautionary principles suggest that a complete closure is a necessary management tool, as a starter. If the runs come in higher than expected, opening the fishery is an option. But if not, it should remain closed. I would agree that closures are rarely needed if your pre-season forecast is accurate, which for the Fraser Rv sockeye, it might be very accurate.

    As you might guess, everything depends on the pre-season forecast. Our ability to manage is only as good as that estimate, and the variability around it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AaronP View Post
    My problem is that I don't believe in managing for maximum harvest.
    You're confused. We don't manage for "maximum harvest". We manage for maximum sustainable harvest under our Alaska Constitution's sustained yield principle.


    Quote Originally Posted by AaronP View Post
    I also understand that goals have been lowered time and time again in order to "reach" them.
    No, goals are lowered to change the sustainable level of the stock, based on scientifically justified reasons. Remember, a return of two fish each year is a sustainable run - it just doesn't leave any harvest available (yield), and its not very conservative. You can't have a goal without sustainability - the two go hand-in-hand whether the goal is lowered or raised. So it's all about finding a balance for the level of sustainability we want for the run, given all the variables and mixed-stock factors that add in - like harvest, run fluctuations, productivity, other affected fisheries, economics, allocation issues, predation, urbanization, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by AaronP View Post
    It just amazes me how some folks think it all fine and good when runs meet the bottom end of the "escapement goals". Seems like we should be aiming a little higher.
    Meeting the bottom end of the escapement goal is meeting goals - it is the threshold where sustainability occurs based on conservative models. So when we meet it, everything is fine and good - the run is sustained. Giving the goal a narrow range, or setting it higher than necessary has ramifications in regards to run fluctuations, productivity, lost yields, affects on other stocks, etc. So I have to ask why aim higher than the goals?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AaronP View Post
    I understand perfectly. I also understand that goals have been lowered time and time again in order to "reach" them. My problem is that I don't believe in managing for maximum harvest.

    It just amazes me how some folks think it all fine and good when runs meet the bottom end of the "escapement goals". Seems like we should be aiming a little higher.
    The original Kenai Late Run King goal established in 1988 was centered around escapements between 15,500 and 22,300 fish, with the optimum spawning escapement being around 22,300 fish. The midpoint of our current 15,000-30,000 goal is 22,500. No part of our management plan aims toward the bottom end of the goal - fisheries are still restricted when escapements above 15,000 are projected.

    The goal has not been lowered time and again. In fact, the midpoint of the goal is actually a couple hundred fish higher than the original goal. And we are supposedly better at counting them now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    I couldn't read the entire article since it was password protected. Perhaps someone could cut and paste.

    However, Nerka's summary of Carl Walters premise is similar to how fisheries are managed on the Columbia Rv. Salmon fisheries are managed on a "sliding scale" where the exploitation rate is high (as a percentage of the run) when the pre-season forecast is high (as compared to the 10 year average). Conversely, the exploitation rate is much lower when the pre-season forecast is low. But this only works well when there is a fairly accurate pre-season forecast. If the pre-season forecast has lots of variability (e.g., spring Chinook), setting the exploitation rate gets really dicey, especially when you have to manage under the incidental take limits of the ESA. I would disagree that complete closures may not be necessary, given the variability in the pre-season forecast. If the confidence intervals around the average result in the possibility of dipping below replacement levels, or are approaching ESA limits, precautionary principles suggest that a complete closure is a necessary management tool, as a starter. If the runs come in higher than expected, opening the fishery is an option. But if not, it should remain closed. I would agree that closures are rarely needed if your pre-season forecast is accurate, which for the Fraser Rv sockeye, it might be very accurate.

    As you might guess, everything depends on the pre-season forecast. Our ability to manage is only as good as that estimate, and the variability around it.
    The approach of higher exploitation on good returns and lower on smaller returns is aslo the foundation basis for escapement goal management where exploitation is driven by the goals if they are fixed. However, as cohoangler points out there are a majority of stocks with no goals and therefore the forecast does become critical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Funstastic View Post
    You're confused. We don't manage for "maximum harvest". We manage for maximum sustainable harvest under our Alaska Constitution's sustained yield principle.
    Not quite. Lots of people mistakenly think the constitution mandates MSY. The constitution speaks to maximum use and benefit (and sustained yield, of course). MSY can certainly fall within those parameters, but it's not the directive.

    Here are the relevant sections:

    http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/f...sa.dll/acontxt?

    Section 8.1 - Statement of Policy. It is the policy of the State to encourage the settlement of its land and the development of its resources by making them available for maximum use consistent with the public interest.

    Section 8.2 - General Authority. The legislature shall provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging to the State, including land and waters, for the maximum benefit of its people.
    Section 8.3 - Common Use. Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife, and waters are reserved to the people for common use.
    Section 8.4 - Sustained Yield. Fish, forests, wildlife, grasslands, and all other replenishable resources belonging to the State shall be utilized, developed, and maintained on the sustained yield principle, subject to preferences among beneficial uses.
    "Fishing relaxes me. It's like yoga, except I still get to kill something." --Ron Swanson

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    Quote Originally Posted by MRFISH View Post
    Not quite. Lots of people mistakenly think the constitution mandates MSY. The constitution speaks to maximum use and benefit (and sustained yield, of course). MSY can certainly fall within those parameters, but it's not the directive.
    Huh? I didn't say the Constitution mandates MSY, or that MSY was the directive. Read what I said closer...

    "We manage for maximum sustainable harvest under our Alaska Constitution's sustained yield principle."

    In other words, when we have sufficient data to establish biological escapement goals (BEG), our Alaska Constitution allows us to manage for maximum sustainable yield. And BEG is exactly how the Chinook being talked about in this discussion are managed - maximum sustained yield.

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    Recall that the Alaska Constitution is the only State constitution that mentions natural resources, beneficial uses, and the concept of sustained yield. A very enlightened document indeed. Also recall that it was written in the late 1950's when the concept of sustained yield was all the rage among natural resource planners. It was a major change from the "slash and burn", "boom and bust" that historically characterized natural resource management (particularly forestry where old growth timber was cut as fast as possible, and then the loggers moved onto find more old growth to cut). It recognized that society can, and should, manage it's natural resources to maximize the benefits to it's citizens over time.

    What has changed since the 1950's is the concept of sustained yield as it relates to the recognition of risk. Harvest levels for salmon that we believe are "sustainable" may not be due to factors beyond our control (e.g., rapidly changing ocean productivity), or other unrelated human activity (e.g., habitat loss due to watershed development). That is, there is an unknown level of risk that we are currently managing our resources in a manner that may not be sustainable. But we just don't know it yet.

    Chinook salmon stocks in the Great Land serve as a great example. Presumably, ADF&G has been managing for "sustained yield" since the beginning of their existence. If so, why have the Chinook salmon stocks declined so precipitously in the past couple years? Wasn't sustained yield supposed to eliminate that? We only thought so. In reality, sustained yield can reduce the booms and busts, but the vagaries of the natural world continue to challenge the concept of sustained yield. Major fluctuations in salmon abundance may always be with us.

    More and better information on the factors that influence salmon productivity (for example) will help immensely but I'm not convinced we will ever have all the answers to basic questions such as: How many salmon are going to return this year? So, while the concept of "sustained yield" is correct, finding it remains a management challenge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    What has changed since the 1950's is the concept of sustained yield as it relates to the recognition of risk. Harvest levels for salmon that we believe are "sustainable" may not be due to factors beyond our control (e.g., rapidly changing ocean productivity), or other unrelated human activity (e.g., habitat loss due to watershed development). That is, there is an unknown level of risk that we are currently managing our resources in a manner that may not be sustainable. But we just don't know it yet.

    Chinook salmon stocks in the Great Land serve as a great example. Presumably, ADF&G has been managing for "sustained yield" since the beginning of their existence. If so, why have the Chinook salmon stocks declined so precipitously in the past couple years? Wasn't sustained yield supposed to eliminate that? We only thought so. In reality, sustained yield can reduce the booms and busts, but the vagaries of the natural world continue to challenge the concept of sustained yield. Major fluctuations in salmon abundance may always be with us.

    While we can’t be certain as to the reasons for the current decline in AK Chinook, one thing we can be certain of – in most systems at least - is that abundance is cyclical and declines like this have happened before. In most systems that I know of - at least the major ones - these declines in abundance are not so severe as to raise sustainability issues– so long as we don’t overharvest these stocks in lean times.

    There are many who are overstating this “decline” to accomplish their self-serving goals.
    Careful not to fall into their trap. 10 years ago we had record levels of kings in most of our rivers. The fact that even in the midst of these “record lows” in the Kenai and elsewhere we have still had strong enough returns to achieve historic escapement goals – even after reasonable harvest in most cases – in my mind speaks to the merits of sustained yield management.


    That said, I don’t think that a cell-phone enabled unlimited commercial powerboat trophy fishery on top of the spawning beds like we have in the Kenai is sustainable.
    But I think we all know that.

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    Just a slight technical correct on this subject. Sustained yields does not mean the same yield every year. The models used are to maintain average sustained yields so they have the uncertain nature of a given year build into the establishment of the goals. The idea we can take out the highs and lows is also not true for some species. For example Kenai River sockeye have returned in one year at 10 million fish and other years less than 2 million or a 5x difference. However, over the last three decades the average decade return has been fairly. This is also true for sockeye salmon for the whole inlet since Kenai and Kasilof River drive sockeye. In contrast Susitna sockeye are down because of in-river issues which changed the habitat and thus the sustainable level. Kenai and Kasilof habitat has been maintained, in large part thanks to the Federal Gov who control the land use patterns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    Recall that the Alaska Constitution is the only State constitution that mentions natural resources, beneficial uses, and the concept of sustained yield. A very enlightened document indeed. Also recall that it was written in the late 1950's when the concept of sustained yield was all the rage among natural resource planners. It was a major change from the "slash and burn", "boom and bust" that historically characterized natural resource management (particularly forestry where old growth timber was cut as fast as possible, and then the loggers moved onto find more old growth to cut). It recognized that society can, and should, manage it's natural resources to maximize the benefits to it's citizens over time.

    What has changed since the 1950's is the concept of sustained yield as it relates to the recognition of risk. Harvest levels for salmon that we believe are "sustainable" may not be due to factors beyond our control (e.g., rapidly changing ocean productivity), or other unrelated human activity (e.g., habitat loss due to watershed development). That is, there is an unknown level of risk that we are currently managing our resources in a manner that may not be sustainable. But we just don't know it yet.

    Chinook salmon stocks in the Great Land serve as a great example. Presumably, ADF&G has been managing for "sustained yield" since the beginning of their existence. If so, why have the Chinook salmon stocks declined so precipitously in the past couple years? Wasn't sustained yield supposed to eliminate that? We only thought so. In reality, sustained yield can reduce the booms and busts, but the vagaries of the natural world continue to challenge the concept of sustained yield. Major fluctuations in salmon abundance may always be with us.

    More and better information on the factors that influence salmon productivity (for example) will help immensely but I'm not convinced we will ever have all the answers to basic questions such as: How many salmon are going to return this year? So, while the concept of "sustained yield" is correct, finding it remains a management challenge.
    Just to be clear, the sustained yield principle is a basic tenet of conservation, where principles of conservation are the objective and must govern and trump resource use. So the sustained yield principle is actually a conservation principle. It is a work in progress.

    As I said earlier, sustained yield does not necessarily mean maximum sustained yield. It is only when we have adequate data and historical evidence that we can set a BEG (biological escapement goal) and manage for maximum sustained yield. Otherwise we don't manage for maximum sustained yield with OEG or SEG. Keep in mind not many fisheries in Alaska have adequate historical data to manage to BEG.

    I do not agree that the sustained yield principle has changed in regards to risk. In fact it was designed with foresight for the exact risks our fisheries are experiencing today - changes in ocean conditions, decreased productivity, human activity, habitat loss, etc. Those risks have always been there. And Alaska appears to be reacting accordingly - limited entry, sport fishing closures, increased restrictions and modified regulations, more conservative management models, research and observation programs, studies and data collection, new technologies, etc. We are beginning to acknowledge and even understand those risks now more than ever, and we are using our conservative based sustained yield principle to address them accordingly.

    I believe we have a reasonable handle on what is sustainable. There are many examples of just that. And there are many examples of restricting or not allowing harvest where fisheries are not capable of harvest. Keep in mind a sustainable run can mean two fish. Somewhere after that is sustainable yield. I suppose we could argue about management reaction time, economic-political influences and priorities, allocations, or a tainted management process, etc. but that is a different discussion (and really where our fishery management fails us) - Arg.

    The notion that the sustained yield principle is supposed to eliminate Chinook declines, is incorrect. The sustained yield principle can not possibly be responsible for declines due to unforeseen factors. It can only be responsible for adjusting resource use according to them, in an effort to make them sustainable to harvest. Fluctuating Chinook runs, due to whatever natural reason, can not be eliminated by it. The sustained yield principle simply does not have that kind of connection with God. It is only the best we have in regards to our harvest of the resource.

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    Fun - I don’t disagree, although you and I might see it somewhat differently.

    But I wonder about your statement that we have a "reasonable handle" on what is sustainable. Would the folks in places like Nulato, Kaltag, and Anvik agree with you? That’s an honest question.

    Seems like the recent plight of the Yukon River Chinook was exactly what “sustained yield” was intended to avoid. But, because of factors beyond our control, and some within our control, those folks are talking about ‘the good ol’ days’ - back when they had plenty of YR Chinook salmon to catch.

    If I want something to eat, I can go to Freddie's to buy a steak. They can’t. In that sense, “sustained yield” becomes a matter of eating or not eating. Again, I don’t disagree with you, but I wonder how far that agreement extends……

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    Cohoangler, the folks of Nulato, Kaltag, and Anvik face allocation issues and social issues with regard to subsistence. But I think they would all agree the Chinook run is sustained - just not in a way that supports their lifestyle the way they want.

    Run abundance is cyclic and constantly fluctuating. The sustained yield principle works to adapt to those patterns and allows us to manage fish accordingly, even in times of decline, even for subsistence. Sustained yield doesn't always mean the same number of salmon can be harvested each season, or that all periods in time are supposed to be like the "the good ol' days." In times of low abundance, sustained yields might mean very little harvest. Or, in following the sustained yield principle's primary objective to conserve, it might mean the stock cannot support any harvest.

    Sustained runs, reductions in allocation, along with conservation efforts recently implemented are pure evidence that we do have a "reasonable handle" on sustainability - otherwise we would not be taking action. More evidence of a "reasonable handle" on sustainability is born out in Alaska's fishery policy regarding OEG's, BEG's, and SEG's - all biological justifications for sustainability - working in most cases. Are our sustainable yield practices perfect? Of course not. But I have yet to see anything better anywhere else in the world.

    Lets be honest. The people of Nulato, Kaltag, and Anvik are not starving, nor will they starve without Chinook. I've been to two of those villages and I can tell you they have amenities, subsidies, opportunities, and special privileges that I don't. They are wonderful people and I don't begrudge that, but they choose their lifestyle, and in fact they can most certainly go to Freddies to buy a steak if they choose. In my experience, they eat and drink more packaged grocery store foods than most folks living in urban areas, and tend to be obese because of it. It is not unusual for them to order pizza, fast food, and specialty items to be shipped in. My only point being that finding alternatives to Chinook is not the end of the world for them, as I get the idea you are trying to portray.

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    No arguments from me. However, at times I get the sense that 'sustained yield' has set up unrealistic expectations, particularly for the folks who rely on those fish stocks for sustenance and economic support. Indeed, the concept of 'sustained yield' implies that yields will be sustained. Perhaps at a level that (pick a user group - commercial, recreational, PU, subsistence, etc) expects to continue into the future.

    We would both agree that this may not be realistic. But the perception remains.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    If I want something to eat, I can go to Freddie's to buy a steak. They can’t. In that sense, “sustained yield” becomes a matter of eating or not eating. Again, I don’t disagree with you, but I wonder how far that agreement extends……
    Not to pick, but they can indeed go to Freddie's if they so desire. In fact, they can buy a ticket out of the bush and find a job and a place to live relatively easily if they cannot sustain a life there - I've heard the cost of living in the bush is outrageous. Or they can get a job on the slope and commute while having their steaks flown in from Freddies. They can even find help in doing this, whether it be through gov't financial or educational assistance or the preferential hire programs that many AK contractors have.

    While I don't pretend to know the reasons for the Yukon declines, I feel that that the priority we put on subsistence harvest is at times a little ridiculous. Yes, it is a matter of culture and tradition for many people - I respect that very much. But it is disingenuous to allow traditional liberal subsistence harvest rights when they are applied with modern means and methods. I can't help but think that unwillingness to ruffle feathers by limiting subsistence harvest has at times led to these problems. While I think it's appropriate that subsistence harvest take priority over commercial or sport so long as it is reasonable, many in the "conservation" crowd are quick to shut down sport/commercial activity while stopping at nothing to keep "traditional" subsistence harvest open.

    Cook Inlet Belugas come to mind. No one's ancestors had cell phones, outboards, or 30-06's. 200 years ago there were less people and they were less effective at harvesting our resources. We have to remember that.

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