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  • #46
    Susitna Sockeye

    Originally posted by Nerka View Post
    Please provide a reference for the 50-70% on Susitna Sockeye and what that included - all users, just commercial .....? Also did this estimate use adjusted escapement estimates because of Bendix undercounting?
    Numbers reported in the Tobias report. May or may not be accurate but these are the ones available.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Comment


    • #47
      Thanks Bfish as you and I both know that the average exploitation based on the above report was 59.5% for 1980 to 1999 and the average escapement was 211,000 fish and harvest was 534000 fish. The escapement goal was reached in 10 years and just barely missed in a few other years. This harvest also included sport fish and other users although this component was fairly small. The escapement were based on Bendix counts and expansion which we know was biased low so the actual exploitation rate was lower. I believe you would agree that at this level of exploitation if the habitat in the Susitna was sound the returns would have been sustainable if distribution of spawners was also maintained.

      Comment


      • #48
        Nerka, maybe you can answer this. How good is an enumeration system that only samples lakes, which make up 60-70% of the system's return? And there are only 3 lakes enumerated, out of many lakes in the system. It is estimated that 30-40% of the Susitna/Yentna drainage sockeye return spawns in sloughs, streams and running water in the system. How does fish and game know what is happening in areas other than the three lakes with weirs?

        Pike are not a system wide problem. There are still many, many streams, sloughs and rivers in the system that do not have pike. There are many tributaries where beaver do not pose a problem for upstream salmon migration or downstream smolt migration. How can assumptions about this portion of the return be made based upon counts in 3 lakes that have issues with pike and beavers?

        Comment


        • #49
          Originally posted by Cohoangler View Post
          I agree that all fisheries should be managed on a solid scientific basis. The Alaska Constitution spells that out nicely. But it does not tell Alaska residents what their policy preferences should be. I see the mandate in the Alaska Constitution as direction to the decision-makers, including BoF and ADF&G. It does not state what the societal end points should be. Alaska residents can decide what the policy priorities should be (non-scientific answer), and then it's up to the scientists to decide how to get there.

          Let's use an absurd example. Let's say that Alaska residents decided, collectively and individually, that northern pike were more important than sockeye salmon for the rivers and lakes in the Mat-Su valley. It would be the task of BoF and ADF&G to make that happen. It would NOT be the task of BoF and ADF&G to tell the Alaskan people they're wrong. BoF/ADF&G can identify the long- and short-term risks. They can tell them that stocking pike may result significant local and regional socio-economic changes. They can tell them that relying on an invasive species is not likely to result in long-term benefits. And they might even try to convince the public to do something differently (thru the politicians). But they can't unilaterally decide to do something else because they, presumably, know better.

          Policy preferences belong to the public. The means to achieve those ends is the task of the scientist/biologist. That's why I believe the opinions of the non-scientists amongst us are just as important as mine and yours (in the public policy arena).

          Enjoy the weekend!
          You are so wrong on this cohoangler. If the people decided they want pike in the near future ADF&G scientists have an obligation and duty to say no as the Constitution makes it clear that natural resources are to be sustained for the public good and an invasive species does not meet that requirement. The same reason the BOF and ADF&G have a sustainable fisheries policy and the general public is not allowed to vote on resource allocation. You should read the recent Supreme Court ruling on the set net ban. The Court clearly has said that the public cannot, because of their short term benefit, allocate resources via a vote. Thus, the Constitution protects future generations for short term decision making and charges the Board of Fish and ADF&G with that task.

          Also, all opinions are not equal and therefore the issue is the knowledge of the person making the statements about policy not a title. But for you to say a scientific oriented person with extensive knowledge of UCI or other fisheries is equal in opinion to one who knows knowing of the fisheries or area is just BS. What should happen is if a person makes a statement on policy it should be put to the test of a scientific rationale. If it fails a rationale test then it is BS. We have numerous examples on this forum with some who refuse to admit pike and beaver dams are reducing production in the Susitna River rather than harvest. That claim is false and therefore the opinion of those individuals who push a harvest policy to increase sockeye production in the Susitna should be dismissed and challenged on this point by scientists and others who are more knowledgeable.

          Comment


          • #50
            Originally posted by willphish4food View Post
            Nerka, maybe you can answer this. How good is an enumeration system that only samples lakes, which make up 60-70% of the system's return? And there are only 3 lakes enumerated, out of many lakes in the system. It is estimated that 30-40% of the Susitna/Yentna drainage sockeye return spawns in sloughs, streams and running water in the system. How does fish and game know what is happening in areas other than the three lakes with weirs?
            "Together, Chelatna and Judd lakes are believed to represent about 43 percent of the sockeye salmon production in the Yentna River. Larson Lake is believed to represent about 52 percent of the sockeye salmon production in the Susitna River mainstem." ADF&G http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...te_fish&site=6

            Obviously the best enumeration would be a web of numerous weirs throughout the entire system, each representing it's own subsystem, each with it's own goals. But that is not practical or feasible, and virtually impossible to manage. Also, it is not so much how many lakes are enumerated, but rather how significant the lake that is enumerated is within the system. The 3 sites chosen enumerate the biggest producers and represent the majority of the run. Remember, the whole idea behind enumerations is related to meeting goals, otherwise they are just numbers.

            ADF&G, along with the help of commercial fishing funded Cook Inlet Aquaculture and other groups, have been monitoring, studying, measuring, and counting sockeye throughout the entire Susitna system for decades. We do have historical enumerations and weir counts from other areas throughout the system, mark-recapture studies, and other Northern District run data to consider when putting it all together.

            I think ADFG is doing the best they can under the circumstances. If you have a better suggestion, please put it out there.


            Originally posted by willphish4food View Post
            Pike are not a system wide problem. There are still many, many streams, sloughs and rivers in the system that do not have pike. There are many tributaries where beaver do not pose a problem for upstream salmon migration or downstream smolt migration. How can assumptions about this portion of the return be made based upon counts in 3 lakes that have issues with pike and beavers?
            Actually Judd and Larson do not have Pike. Only Chelatna does. Also not all have significant beaver dam problems. Judd does.

            As for a system-wide problem, Pike continue to spread in the Susitna drainage as we speak.

            Shell lake is the epitome. At one time it produced 70,000 sockeye. It became infested with Pike, disease, and over 25 beaver dams blocked passage. That run is now gone.

            To better answer your questions there are a mountain of studies and reports on the Pike and beaver in the Susitna system. Much of it was done by CIAA in cooperation with ADF&G, and it is still ongoing.

            Comment


            • #51
              Nerka - Iím not sure where to beginÖ.. I donít usually do a tit-for-tat response, but Iíll oblige in this case. My response is in red for clarity.

              My apologies if my response gets personal.

              ďIf the people decided they want pike in the near future ADF&G scientists have an obligation and duty to say no as the Constitution makes it clear that natural resources are to be sustained for the public good and an invasive species does not meet that requirement.Ē

              So the scientists get to interpret the Constitution!? They decide what the public good is and is not? No, they donít. Judges interpret the law, not scientists. On public policy questions, the public (all of us) has input but policy makers make policy decisions.

              To illustrate, letís continue with my absurd example. I can make the argument that northern pike can be managed for the short-term and long-term public interest. Itís done all over Canada and many States in the L-48. Northern pike supports many recreational, commercial, and tribal fisheries 365 days a year (canít say that about sockeye). Could it be done in the Mat-Su Valley? I have no idea, but thatĎs a scientific question that requires a scientific answer. The policy question is whether it SHOULD be done.

              Continuing with my absurdity, letís say that ADF&G scientists find that northern pike will provide just as many economic and social benefits to the State of Alaska (primarily the Mat-Su Valley) as sockeye salmon. Letís also say that the various risks are comparable. If thatís the case, the issue is no longer scientific or legal. The policy question is whether ADF&G should manage for pike or sockeye. The scientists have done their job. There is nothing more for them to do. Itís now a policy question. If the Policy folks decide to manage for sockeye, because thatís what theyíve always done, fine. Thatís their decision. But itís not a scientific decision.

              ďThe same reason the BOF and ADF&G have a sustainable fisheries policy and the general public is not allowed to vote on resource allocation. You should read the recent Supreme Court ruling on the set net ban. The Court clearly has said that the public cannot, because of their short term benefit, allocate resources via a vote. Thus, the Constitution protects future generations for short term decision making and charges the Board of Fish and ADF&G with that task.Ē

              I agree, but I never said anything about allocation. But the question of who gets which fish and when IS a policy question for BoF. It ainít a question for the scientists at ADF&G.

              ďAlso, all opinions are not equal and therefore the issue is the knowledge of the person making the statements about policy not a title. But for you to say a scientific oriented person with extensive knowledge of UCI or other fisheries is equal in opinion to one who knows knowing of the fisheries or area is just BS. ď

              You missed my point. In a scientific debate, scientists have deference. But public policy choices remain with the public. Everyone has the right to an opinion. Everyone gets to have their voices heard. Everyone gets to participate without being judged by their background. On public policy issues, all opinions ARE equal. Scientists donít make policy decisions. Policy makers do. Thatís why the BoF is separate from ADF&G. Thatís why BOF meetings are in public, they take public testimony, and thatís why BoF members are nominated and confirmed (or not) in an open, public process thru the Legislature (as discussed at length elsewhere on this BB).

              My intent in raising this point was that I believe the same thing applies on this BB. On public policy questions, those of us with a scientific background are no more important than those who donít; and that a measure of humility goes a long way towards developing an understanding between those folks with differing opinions. You seem to disagree.

              ďWhat should happen is if a person makes a statement on policy it should be put to the test of a scientific rationale. If it fails a rationale test then it is BS. We have numerous examples on this forum with some who refuse to admit pike and beaver dams are reducing production in the Susitna River rather than harvest. That claim is false and therefore the opinion of those individuals who push a harvest policy to increase sockeye production in the Susitna should be dismissed and challenged on this point by scientists and others who are more knowledgeable.Ē

              Thatís not a policy statement. Itís a scientific one. So the folks who are scientists have deference in the answer. That answer can help shape the policy debate on how best to restore sockeye salmon. And it can help decision-makers focus their efforts ($$ís) at restoration. But it says nothing about what they SHOULD do, or where they SHOULD focus their efforts. It suggests that some solutions have more risks than others. That is, reducing harvest carries a higher risk of success than restoring habitat (as an example).

              I realize that scientific and policy issues are rarely clear-cut. The lines are often blurred. But it is the responsibility of the scientist to recognize the boundaries of his/her expertise. Once they cross into the policy arena, they become policy advocates. In doing so, they put their scientific credibility at substantial risk.

              Thanks for the discussion.

              Comment


              • #52
                Cohoangler, I've gotta call bunk...

                Pike do not occur in these systems in their natural state. They are an invasive species, introduced illegally. The Constitution makes clear where public interest is concerned (Article VIII, Section 3) that fish occurring in their natural state are reserved to the people for common use. You are trying to define natural state to mean an illegally introduced invasive species.

                I don't see where Nerka said scientists get to interpret the Constitution or what's good for the public. I only see where he said scientists have an obligation and duty to uphold the Constitution.

                You are partly correct that managing for a Pike fishery would be a policy decision, not a scientific one (although there are obvious scientific ramifications). However, Nerka did not imply a decision to make that policy would be decided by scientists, only that scientists have an obligation to the policy. If the policy is not scientifically sound, it should be challenged on the basis of that science.

                -----

                You did talk about allocation - when you talked about one species being more important to users than another. As Nerka pointed out, this is not up for public vote. Allocation decisions are based on many things, including science.

                ----

                Sorry, but when it comes to fishery management, an opinion without science is an opinion half-baked. Folks who engage on this BB who lack basic understanding of UCI fishery science might have an opinion, but they are not equal. Plus they run risk of doing harm. I could tell you what I think about brain surgery, but my opinion would not be equal to a brain surgeon's opinion.

                Also, the BOF was created for conservation and development of the fishery resources (AS 16.05.221). Whatever policy the BOF sets must be consistent with resource conservation. That takes science (along with public input and varying opinions). Just because the BOF is a separate entity from ADFG, does not mean science is not used.

                ----

                I have to disagree with you. It is certainly a policy statement to suggest harvest restrictions for commercial fishing, while refusing to admit production problems due to Pike and beaver. That policy statement is potentially harmful to the resource and users. It takes scientific knowledge to challenge it. That science does in fact point to what they SHOULD do, or where they SHOULD focus their efforts.

                Sorry, but when a scientist injects science in the policy arena, he is not advocating policy. He is advocating the science. Obviously that science will have affect on policy, and the scientists will favor policy that takes the science into consideration. Credibility? Not.

                Opinions are nice and serve a purpose. Mine is that in threads like these we need science. You don't have to be a scientist to bring it.

                Comment


                • #53
                  Cohoangler makes some valid points, but let us also look at "science". A fisheries biologist is a biologist first and a statistics wiz second. Put another way, they are competent in the biology and processes, and can manipulate numbers. They are not necessarily statisticians. Measurement is the significant issue. It is fairly straightforward on a smallish clearwater stream, but gets progressively harder the larger or more colored the stream. See, for instance, the differences in wier counts, test netting, and radar counts for any period of your choosing.

                  Ignoring the pike debate as obfuscatory, there is a difference between a biological opinion an specific proposals (seasons, gear, baits) and an opinion on the political arguments, such as the harvest share by user group.

                  Also, there is ample evidence that much of the peer reviewed science in a number of areas is actually pal reviewed, or otherwise so deficient that the number of recessions has gone way up in recent years. I make no accusation, just a an observation.

                  The Board of Fish debates are about who gets what and when and with what gear. The opinion of the biologists in their capacity as biologists is limited to "if you do that the effects will probably be, based on our observations over the past (fill in the duration of observations here). The clunker in the opinion is that the observation record likely does not account for the complete range of conditions in the natal stream and the great rearing pond. It is possible that the opinion is spot on, or that it misses the effect significantly. Simply put, when both the natal stream and the rearing pond are skewed to abundance, you get one outcome. When both are skewed against abundance, you get a vastly different outcome. Most of the time it is somewhere between, but we are not yet knowledgeable enough to get it right most of the time. We simply don't know enough about the rearing pond.

                  The biologists' opinions on biology deserve respect as the best likely outcome, but also ought to be carefully proffered, recognizing the limitations. On political issues, not so much, but still some respect.

                  I hope I did not insult any of you, that was not the point. The biology is is the point, and there are many areas of uncertainty. It is OK to recognize them.

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Cohoangler I just want to follow up with a few examples which may make you rethink your position and some of your points I do not disagree with. However, Alaska fishery management is different in many aspects. First, during the season the Department of Fish and Game managers make policy calls all the time without public input. They decide if there are two goals and both will not be met (one under one over) they decide for that year which takes priority. There is no public input on this tradeoff discussion as the legislature deferred this policy call to the Department via statue. The Brown Decision here on the Kenai makes it very clear that even the Board of Fish cannot over-rule the inseason emergency order authority of the Department. It is not a scientific decision in a number of cases but a political decision made by staff all the way up to the Commissioner.

                    I have numerous examples of this in UCI fishery management. We try to make these trade off decisions based on scientific principles but other factors enter the decision that are social and cultural. For example if processors can handle the harvest.

                    So scientists in management positions are more than scientists. They are policy makers in-season and the legislature is fine with that because in-season on ground decision making is the hallmark of Alaska salmon management success.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Using 1 lake out of 12 lakes in a river system the size of the Susitna, and not measuring returns or production of slough, stream and mainstem spawning, is equivalent to using the Russian Lake weir to monitor the entire Kenai River sockeye run. Using 2 lakes of 12 in the Yentna is about the same level of sanity. Defend the practice all you want, but thats my opinion and im sticking to it. Far too many spawning grounds are left out. Saying that counting fish in 12 % of 65% of the spawning areas in the system is sufficient is insanity.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Nerka View Post
                        Cohoangler I just want to follow up with a few examples which may make you rethink your position and some of your points I do not disagree with. However, Alaska fishery management is different in many aspects. First, during the season the Department of Fish and Game managers make policy calls all the time without public input. They decide if there are two goals and both will not be met (one under one over) they decide for that year which takes priority. There is no public input on this tradeoff discussion as the legislature deferred this policy call to the Department via statue. The Brown Decision here on the Kenai makes it very clear that even the Board of Fish cannot over-rule the inseason emergency order authority of the Department. It is not a scientific decision in a number of cases but a political decision made by staff all the way up to the Commissioner.

                        I have numerous examples of this in UCI fishery management. We try to make these trade off decisions based on scientific principles but other factors enter the decision that are social and cultural. For example if processors can handle the harvest.

                        So scientists in management positions are more than scientists. They are policy makers in-season and the legislature is fine with that because in-season on ground decision making is the hallmark of Alaska salmon management success.
                        Thanks Nerka and Fun. I'll think about your examples, and the areas we disagree.

                        I would note that one of the many reasons Alaska fisheries management has been successful is they've clearly delineated science from policy. I agree that science must inform the policy decisions, but the policy preferences of the scientists (and we all have our own policy preferences) ought not drive the policy debate or the decisions made.

                        Thanks again to Nerka, TJ, Willphish, FishDoc, Fun and everyone for the thoughtful discussion!

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          willphish4food, opinions are one thing. Justifying them is another. If only you would make the effort to inform yourself, converting myopic, knee-jerk emotion into defendable rationale.

                          There is more to comprehend than simply 3 enumeration sites...

                          The entire Susitna system has been evaluated in order to understand runs and escapements, including it's sloughs and mainstem...

                          Mark-recapture, radio telemetry, genetic sampling, aerial surveys, foot surveys, 8 fish wheels, 6 weirs, 2 sonars, 11 radio tracking ground stations, juvenile traps and smolt surveys on 7 major lakes, Pike predation studies, etc., etc. All done by dozens of biologists, geneticists, biometricians, and technicians in a collaborate effort with multiple state and federal agencies. There are a mountain of reports on this if you made the effort to care.

                          http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...rticles_id=421


                          The 3 enumeration sites are not used alone. They are simply the best indicator since they represent the most significant portion of the run. Scientists use that information, along with other known historical information (above), to determine runs. Through their work, they have a very good idea how many sockeye are spawning in the sloughs and mainstem, and they can use their data and expertise to account for them. Remember, the primary function of enumeration sites is to meet goals. Enumerations don't mean much if we can't establish goals (sloughs and mainstem).

                          If your argument was that we can't count every fish, or that the current method is not perfect, then I would agree. It would be nice if we had the ability to enumerate every subsystem and slough for every sockeye. But we can't. After all, the Susistna does present several very unique obstacles. But to say what ADF&G is doing is "insane", and then compare it to using the Russian weir for Kenai runs, is well...uninformed and emotional (BTW, we do use the Russian weir for Kenai runs).

                          willphish4food, in my last post I asked you to present a better solution to what you claim is insane. You have not done that. But you always can.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Originally posted by willphish4food View Post
                            Using 1 lake out of 12 lakes in a river system the size of the Susitna, and not measuring returns or production of slough, stream and mainstem spawning, is equivalent to using the Russian Lake weir to monitor the entire Kenai River sockeye run. Using 2 lakes of 12 in the Yentna is about the same level of sanity. Defend the practice all you want, but thats my opinion and im sticking to it. Far too many spawning grounds are left out. Saying that counting fish in 12 % of 65% of the spawning areas in the system is sufficient is insanity.
                            willphish4food, something we can agree on. The Department would like to have more weirs and had a mark/recapture program to evaluate total sockeye spawning numbers. But funds were cut and they were cut despite the points you point out. So get your valley legislators to put the money back in or get the Mat/Su monies from the State to fund these projects. This was not ADF&G choice but forced by budget reductions. This is one area where the valley and kenai can come together. It is in the best interests of all to increase monitoring of escapements into this drainage.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Originally posted by willphish4food View Post
                              Using 1 lake out of 12 lakes in a river system the size of the Susitna, and not measuring returns or production of slough, stream and mainstem spawning, is equivalent to using the Russian Lake weir to monitor the entire Kenai River sockeye run. Using 2 lakes of 12 in the Yentna is about the same level of sanity. Defend the practice all you want, but thats my opinion and im sticking to it. Far too many spawning grounds are left out. Saying that counting fish in 12 % of 65% of the spawning areas in the system is sufficient is insanity.
                              The key is whether the systems that are counted are representative of those that are not.
                              If the counted populations are more productive than the uncounted populations, then the uncounted populations are likely being overfished relative to their maximum sustained yield.
                              If productivity of the uncounted populations is damaged by pike or habitat problems, then uncounted populations may be overfished to the point of a conservation concern.

                              To connect this up to the other discussion on this thread, it may well be appropriate to accept reduced yield from some Susitna sockeye populations as a tradeoff for the economic benefit of greater access to harvestable surpluses of the hugely productive Kenai and Kasilof sockeye.
                              It may be inevitable that some populations are so impaired that fishing no longer contributes to their ultimate fate.
                              It is also likely that fishery limits will determine the fate of some moderately impaired populations.

                              Science identifies these challenges, alternatives and tradeoffs.
                              Science does not tell us which alternatives should be chosen.
                              Nor does science tell us how costs and benefits of alternatives should be allocated among the various fishery sectors.
                              Those are policy choices informed by science but determined by social, economic and political considerations which are under the purview of the Legislature, Governor, Board of Fisheries, and to some degree the ADFG Commissioner.

                              Allocation in particular has been specifically delegated in State Statute to the Board of Fisheries.
                              It is true that inseason management decisions can have serious allocation implications.
                              Management plans provide guidance to managers for fishery implementation consistent with the allocation decisions by the Board implicit in those plans.
                              Plans do not cover every circumstance that might arise. In those cases, choices have to be made and the Commissioner has that authority.

                              Some fishery managers such as Nerka feel, by virtue of their scientific training, expertise, and knowledge, that it is perfectly appropriate for them to make policy decisions with significant allocation implications.
                              However, many people question whether it is objective or appropriate for managers charged with optimizing the success of specific fisheries to be making inseason management decisions with significant allocation benefits for their target stocks and fishery which come at the expense of other stocks and fisheries.

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Bfish, you had me all warm and fuzzy until your last paragraph about Nerka.

                                I don't believe Nerka has ever served in a capacity to make policy decisions, especially those with significant allocation implications. He has served in a capacity to support said policy with defendable science. If anything I would say Nerka feels that because of his training, expertise, and knowledge it is his responsibility to see that decisions are science based. Yes, inevitably that science influences policy, and ultimately allocations. BTW, making inseason management decisions which have allocation implications is policy. Managers are tasked with following that policy.

                                Comment

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