Funding Cutbacks

I regret to inform our membership and dedicated salmon enhancement community that on August 4th  the Powell River Salmon Society learned that we had received a $27 000 reduction in funding. This cut will directly impact our Coho production. This reduction in funding means that we will no longer be clipping and tagging Coho. Future information (stock assessment) on where our fish are caught and who is catching them will be discontinued.
The funding cut will bring  an end to our student employment. Students were hired each spring to carry out clipping and tagging operations. This employment opportunity had been an annual event for about 15 years.
Please read the letter below that we received from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans concerning this topic.


August 4, 2010
Mr. Shane Dobler
Hatchery Manager
Powell River Salmon Society
5775 Ash Avenue
Powell River, BC, V8A 4R3
Shane, and the members of the Powell River Salmon Society:
Subject: Discontinuation of Georgia Basin East Hatchery Coho Indicator Project

I am really sorry to inform you and the members of the Society that DFO has decided to end the Coho Indicator Project at the Lang Creek Hatchery facility. We have had some severe budget cuts this year and we’ve decided to focus our funding on Chinook and Recreational Monitoring within the Strait of Georgia area.

This does not affect the coho juveniles on hand which will be released as smolts next spring, nor does it affect the PRSS’s egg take targets. It does effect your Society’s funding because DFO Stock Assessment won’t be contributing to the brood collection and rearing of the next group of coho.

This project was not the only one affected. We have cut some time and area periods from the Creel Survey, and our Chum projects. Elsewhere we have cut coho indicator funding as well. Part of the reasoning behind the move away from the coho indicators is that there are no directed coho commercial fisheries and limited recreational fisheries. This does not mean the coho indicator system had no value for it contributed to Marine Survival statistics. The coded-wire tag process would have been in place had DFO decided to increase coho catch monitoring. Now it will require a two year lead time to get back to where we can monitor marine survival and exploitation rates again.

Shane, you and the Society have worked hard to assist DFO on this project and others. It is through no fault or negligence on your part that this outcome has resulted. If in the future our funding and focus changes I hope the Society is receptive to a joint project again.
Sincerely yours,

Steve Baillie
South Coast Area

cc: Wilfred Luedke
Roberta Cook
Leroy Hopwo
Arlene Tompkins
Cindy Harlow

  1. #1 by John Carter on August 5, 2010 - 3:17 pm

    This government is again showing complete contempt toward efforts to stop the decimation of wild salmon stocks while supporting the faming of salmon .
    Should we not be in discussion with our MLA to see what pressure may be brought to restore these grants?

  2. #2 by Ken Stevenson on August 7, 2010 - 11:29 am

    This is the first indication of funding cutbacks in the Fisheries Portfolio presumably as part of attempts by the Conservative government to eliminate deficits. Our elected MLA’s need to place the real focus on the incredible size of the DFO bureaucracy and the cost of inefficient and ineffective administration therein. The production end of the hatchery programs should not be the “whipping horse” for these cutbacks.

    Powell River Salmon Society management and the Board of Directors need to recognize that this is just the first “shoe to drop” and that more cuts will be coming. PRSS needs to focus on developing new sources of revenue, even to the point of becoming an operating entity, if it is to survive going forward. Relying on DFO funding for survival into the future is a very risky way forward.

    Too much progress has been made over the past 5 years by management, supported by large teams of volunteers from the community, to leave the future of the Society to the whims of DFO bureaucrats.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Ken Stevenson

  3. #3 by John Dixon on August 11, 2010 - 7:28 am

    Flying Blind

    When something precious and complex quits working, the first order of business is to understand what went wrong. Cancer and Alzheimer’s come to mind, spurring huge research efforts to unravel the vast tangle of possible causes while carefully testing prospective therapies. In order to conquer illness, we must build a foundation of knowledge of what makes us healthy. This will be, we know, the work of generations.

    Our organization, the Powell River Salmon Society, was formed as part of the response to the accelerating disappearance of wild Pacific salmon stocks. Something precious and complex is in obvious, worsening trouble, and we want to be part of the solution.

    Part of our “treatment” of the problem involves the production of hatchery fish. That technique of enhancing salmon populations is important, and is going to continue to be important. But we also must share the task of creating the fundamental knowledge base that will be crucial to the attack on the Big Problem, which is the diminishing populations of wild fish.

    The clipping and tagging of hatchery stock is one of the most basic, proven, and relatively cheap methods of learning where our salmon go, by whom they are caught, and their size and condition at that time. The building up of that knowledge base has taught us a great deal about the life cycle of the fish we want to help. It also makes possible “targetted” fisheries, where wild and hatchery fish can be distinguished by the presence or absence of an adipose fin, with the wild fish released to continue – we hope – the journey to their natal streams.

    As posted by Shane a couple of days ago, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has abruptly terminated our clipping and tagging program as part of their response to budget cuts by the federal government. The reduction of our operating budget by $26,000 is significant, particularly since those moneys have traditionally gone to local university students employed to do the clipping and tagging. At the same time, DFO will terminate or reduce the programs involving students who collect and record “creel” data from the landings of sports fishers.

    If there is no way of telling a “wild” fish from a hatchery fish, there is nothing to be gained by taking a look at the fish being caught.

    This is like turning the aircraft into a cloud while shutting down the navigational instruments. Flying blind.

    In a similar development, it appears that the government is preparing a new regulatory framework for salmon farms which relieves them of any obligation to report on viral infections in their live fish and morts. This occurs against a background of developing knowledge of the role of IHN in the declining population of Fraser River Sockeye. For a full report on this issue, see the Tyee article at

    Again, this seems to be a deliberate decision to refuse to look carefully at what appears to be a clue to part of the Big Problem. Maybe IHN is crucial, and maybe it isn’t; but what is certain is that everybody concerned with the fate of wild fish – and Sockeye are the quintessential wild fish on our coast – should very much desire to know.

    Saving the salmon is going to involve a very long haul. As in the case of major disease, it will be the work of generations. As we do our bit, it will be important to learn as much as we can about the consequences of our efforts – to contribute to the foundational knowledge base that can inform the efforts of those who follow us.

    Flying blind won’t cut it.


    Recipients of government funding – as we are – must think carefully about their response to budget cuts. “Getting political” is probably not a good idea. But as individual citizens, we should do whatever we can – the government is, after all, OUR government, and we are, finally, responsible for its actions.

    And we should look to the Pacific Salmon Foundation as the institution most appropriately placed to publicly call the DFO to account for its prioritization of budget cuts.

  4. #4 by ken hanuse on September 16, 2011 - 10:03 am

    With all due respect to the information provided above, i think an extreme measure enacted toward fish farms is in order. Wild salmon are a part of my culture as it has been since time immemmorial for my people up and down the coast. The problem as it appears to me is more about money. Money for the profitable fish farm industry. Money motivates governments to make decisions in favour of the big businesses and to their friends who scratch each others backs in the political arena. Money drives their greed for more stepping on anyone or anything that may pose a resistance to their insatiable greed. Fish farms have a place on land not in our waters. Fat cats are the only ones winning in this game. Canada, BC does not belong to the Fish Farm Companies. Stop the decimation our natural resources and wild stocks needlessly. Make the policy, regulations and operation procedures stirngent and unbendible by big buck corporations.

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