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Rob Pettigrew


									Rob Pettigrew
5 – 3871 River Rd. West
Delta, B.C.
V4K 3N2

Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board (SEHAB)
   Attn: George Farrell, Chairperson

February 6, 2006

Re: Decline In Funding For Wild Salmon Stock Assessment

Please find attached a series of correspondence providing specific information regarding the negative
impacts of precipitous declines in funding for charter patrol services on the BC coast.
     December 7, 2005; to the Honourable Geoff Regan, (now ex) Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
     Proportion Of Streams Surveyed, Areas 2 East & 2 West
     January 27, 2006; obligatory but unsatisfactory response from Mr. Paul Sprout, Regional
       Director General, Pacific Region
     February 5, 2006; to Paul Sprout (DFO)

I am encouraging all individuals and groups with an interest in insuring the longevity of our precious
wild salmon resource to read the enclosed correspondence and follow up with a request for action from
our newly elected government officials.

We have the support of the hard working Fisheries and Oceans Local Resource Management
Coordinators who depend on a consistent and accurate flow of data provided by contact patrol staff in
order to conduct an effective wild salmon management program. We have the support of Fisheries and
Oceans Biologists working at the field level who also rely on contract patrol staff to assist them with
the implementation of their programs. The decision to reduce program spending comes from Ottawa
and is being made by individuals who do not understand the negative impacts that their decisions have
had at a field level.

November 14th, 2005 (then) Prime Minister Paul Martin announced a 13 billion dollar surplus. A lack
of cash in federal government coffers is apparently not the problem. I have requested that Fisheries and
Oceans restore funding for the charter patrol program to at least 2003 levels (not in itself a banner year
by any means). In 2003 the patrol program was however, able to produce reliable population estimates
of pink and chum salmon for many of the streams on the BC coast. The 2003 level of funding does not
allow however, for reliable population estimates of coho salmon, which must also be addressed in the
very near future.

Thanks for taking the time to consider this issue and if possible to respond with your views to your
Members of Parliament, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and directly to Prime Minister Stephen
Harper. If you wish to contact me, I'll be available after February 28th, 2006 at 604-940-6309 or by
email .

Rob Pettigrew, DFO Charter Patrol Services Patrolman, 1980 - 2005

Rob Pettigrew
5 –3871 River Rd. West
Delta, B.C.
V4K 3N2

December 7, 2005

Hon. Geoff Regan
Minister of Fisheries
House of Commons
Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Regan,

Re: Decline in funding for Fisheries and Oceans Wild Salmon Stock Assessment

I have provided contract Patrol Services to Fisheries and Oceans on an annual basis since 1980. I am
writing to comment on the negative impacts of a consistent reduction of funding provided by your
department for essential on the grounds monitoring of wild salmon populations and their habitat.
At current levels of funding I feel that Fisheries and Oceans will not be able to implement many of the
strategies and action steps identified in the recently enacted Wild Salmon Policy.

I quote from “Canada’s Policy For Conservation Of Wild Salmon”, June 2005
Strategies and Action Steps:
    Strategy 1: Standardized Monitoring of Wild Salmon Status
            This policy requires a systematic process to organize all Pacific salmon streams and lakes
            into geographic units for conservation and specification of the means to monitor
            abundance and distribution of Pacific salmon within those units over time”
    Action Step 1.3: Monitor and Assess Status of Conservation Units
            Salmon assessment involves the use of various analyses to make quantitative predictions
            about the reaction of a population to alternative management plans. Two important
            components of this statement are that assessments should be quantitative and are
            conducted to provide advice for management (including conservation when necessary). …
            the Department has utilized three levels of annual monitoring programs in the assessment
            of Pacific salmon:
                i)      Indicator Systems
                ii)     Intensive Monitoring
                iii)    Extensive Monitoring

A Brief History:

“Extensive Monitoring: Surveys that are generally the least expensive but enable the broadest
coverage of streams or other habitats within a geographic area. These surveys are useful for
examining salmon distribution, consistency of patterns throughout the region, and checks on habitat
changes. They are usually visually based, may be repeated within a year, and may include randomly
selected samples of the streams or habitats in a large geographic area. Examples of these surveys are
over-flights, stream walks or floats, and could involve only portions of the stream instead of the entire

The concept of “Extensive Monitoring” has been at the heart of meeting the Department’s mandate to
understand, protect and conserve all species of Pacific salmonids dating back into the early 1950’s.
Prior to 1997 Fisheries and Oceans accomplished this goal using their own Fisheries Patrol Vessel fleet
augmented by a flexible, efficient and multi-disciplinary charter patrol fleet. Individuals and their
vessels have been contracted on a seasonal basis for the past five decades to “assess stock, conduct
stream inventory and maintenance, monitor and report on habitat issues, collect biological samples”
and to accomplish a wide range of tasks necessary to facilitate an efficient commercial fishery when
warranted by identified stock abundance. In the late 1990’s the number of DFO’s own Ships Division
Fisheries Patrol Vessels were severely reduced. The remaining few vessels were amalgamated with the
Canadian Coast Guard fleet and are now tasked primarily to Search and Rescue (SAR) activities which
has drastically reduced their effectiveness as fisheries management platforms. When not engage in
SAR duties these vessels are primarily assigned to conservation and protection (i.e., enforcement)
patrol duties. Stock assessment and fisheries management tasks are now a very distant third priority.

Budget cutbacks throughout the 1990’s had been steadily eroding the number of patrol personnel and
their vessels chartered on an annual seasonal basis. During the late 1970’s the Department contracted
approximately one hundred and fifty charter patrol vessels to meet their conservation and protection
obligations. By 2003 this number had been reduced to a total of twenty-five charter patrol personnel
and their vessels assigned to monitor all aspects relating to the ongoing health and abundance of all
salmonid stocks on the B.C. coast. In the period 2003 through 2005 further budget cutbacks reduced
this fleet to nineteen vessels. Even 2003 levels of coverage were well below the minimum required to
meet the department’s conservation and protection mandate.

In the past ten years the department has consistently reduced funding for essential on the grounds
monitoring of salmon populations and their habitat. Local Resource Management Coordinators can
no longer depend on having a consistent and accurate data flow with which to conduct an effective
salmon management program. Furthermore, the dramatic decline of monitoring coverage over the past
ten years and in particular, the past three years, has seriously compromised the integrity of a fifty-year-
old salmonid escapement database. Recent improvements to stock assessment methodology such as the
coast wide implementation of a relational database to manage “Stream Inspection Log” and “BC 16
Annual Stream Report” data, have been undermined by a failure to supply a minimum level of
funding required to supply an accurate, reliable and consistent flow of data.

Impacts To The DFO’s Escapement Database:

Each year charter patrolmen complete a “BC 16 Annual Stream Report” for every stream which
provides habitat for spawning salmonids on the coast of British Columbia. This important document
provides a record of the number of salmonids of each species estimated to have spawned in that
specific system during the past year. The document also encapsulates the timing of all spawning
activity and other information pertaining to the methodology of inspection, the condition of spawning
habitat and any comments pertaining to unusual condition that were observed affecting spawning
salmonids. An important field in this document is reserved for “Estimate Classification” which
provides an opportunity for the observer to express a confidence level pertaining to the estimate of
numbers of spawning salamonids for each species. A number is assigned, “one” through “six” which
represents an estimate of the reliability of information recorded in this document. A designation of “6”
indicates that the stream was either “Not Inspected” or “None were Observed” A designation of “5”
indicates “An estimate of low resolution (i.e. very unreliable) … resulting from a low number of
documented surveys, etc.

I have worked as a patrolman for Fisheries and Oceans for twenty-six years now with a further two
years as an employee of Fisheries and Oceans ships division aboard the FPV Arrow Post. All of my
experience in regards to the monitoring of salmon populations has occurred on the Queen Charlotte
Islands / Haida Gwaii (QCI/HG). An analysis of BC 16 data gathered and collated for Area 1, 2 East
and 2 West (i.e. the (QCI/HG) documents a precipitous decline of monitoring coverage which has
come as a direct result of severe budget cuts to the field monitoring program particularly in the period
from 2003 to 2005. The number of “Not Inspected” (N/I) streams has risen dramatically over the past
three years. In respect to just one area, "2 East" for example, since the year 2000 the proportion of total
number of streams surveyed has decreased by approximately, 30% for coho, 30% for chum salmon,
20% for pink salmon (in their even year cycle) and 40% for sockeye. To put it another way, only 28%
of streams in area 2E were surveyed in 2004 to record the number of spawning coho. 29% of the
streams were surveyed for presence and number of spawning chum salmon. 32% of the streams in area
2 East were surveyed for presence and number of spawning pink salmon. I cannot provide detailed
information for chinook salmon at this time but I’m sure that the trend line will be similar to other
species of salmonids. Please refer to the enclosed graphs. I can only assume that there has been a
similar increase in the number of BC 16 Annual Stream Reports with an ‘Estimate Classification” of
“5” indicating a very low reliability level as a result of an insufficient number of stream inspections.

Patrol coverage on QCI/HG peaked in the early 1980’s with an estimated total of six hundred and
eighty monitoring days allocated to the QCI/HG Areas 1, 2 East and 2 West (in addition to three full
time Fisheries Patrol Vessels (FPV). I have watched patrol coverage steadily decline to a total of
ninety-six charter patrol days and one part time coast guard vessel allocated in 2005 to cover all three
areas in QCI/HG. By 2005 charter patrol on grounds monitoring levels had fallen to approximately
14% of the peak in the early 1980’s.

I am requesting that you direct your staff to complete a comprehensive analysis of information
contained within the “BC 16 Annual Reports” for all streams known to provide habitat for spawning
salmon on the coast of B.C. I am concerned that we may find a trend similar to what we know has
occurred on the Queen Charlotte Islands / Haida Gwaii. – a recent and dramatic increase in the number
of streams recorded as “Not Inspected”, “Not Recorded” and “Unknown”. The analysis must include
the numbers of “Estimate Classification - 5”, i.e. the number of streams that have received only one
inspection during the spawning period as one inspection only produces a very unreliable estimate.

Funding For Charter Patrol Services

Since 1986 there has been a general erosion of funding to the patrol program, which has had a negative
impact on its credibility in recent years. Since 2003 however, the funding decline has been precipitous
and has seriously compromised the integrity of all escapement data gathered. Specifically, in 2003 a
total of $1,065,974.00 was allocated to fund the charter patrol program to provide monitoring
coverage for all areas of coastal B.C. That number has fallen within the last three-year period to
$746,761.00 for the 2005 season – a 30% decline. Areas 1, 2 East and 2 West (Queen Charlotte Islands
/ Haida Gwaii ) were particularly impacted by a budget reduction of a full 70% ($159,917.00 in 2003
reduced to $47,515.00 in 2005). This resulted in the loss of 68% of patrol days to cover monitoring of
all streams on QCI / Haida Gwaii (300 days in 2003 reduced to 96 days in 2005). See the table below
for a summary of all areas on the B.C. coast.

        District                2003                  2004                  2005           % Decline
                           Dollars    Days       Dollars    Days      Dollars     Days       Days
 Queen Charlotte         $159,917    300       $52,465     106      $47,515      96         - 68%
 North Coast             $428,975     810      $379,450     712     $364,162     674         - 17%
 Central Coast           $158,017     342      $106,146     228     $99,846      216         - 37%
 South Coast             $227,040     505      $229,100     514     $170,780     392         - 22%
 West Coast Van.         $92,025      179      $80,550      180     $64,440      144         - 20%
                         $1,065,944   2,136    $847,711     1,740   $746,761     1,622       - 29%

In bringing this issue forward, my comments may perhaps be seen as an attempt to serve only my own
interests. I have certainly had a good long run at providing patrol services to the department, have
enjoyed it thoroughly and hope to continue with it in future. At this stage of a fairly lengthy career
however, I have much more to gain by attempting in some small way, to enable the continued health
and longevity of a fragile and irreplaceably valuable resource. To meet this end I am requesting from
the Department:
    • an analysis of recent trends in the quality of data pertaining to all streams in BC which provide
        habitat for spawning salmonids.
    • a return to 2003 levels of funding (as a bare minimum) for on the grounds monitoring of
        salmon populations and their habitat.

Thank you for you attention to this matter.


Rob Pettigrew
Area 2 East Fisheries and Oceans Patrolman 1980 - 2005

Victor Fradette, Local Resource Management Coordinator for the Queen Charlotte Islands, Fisheries
                 and Oceans
Dave Einarson, Acting Area Director, Fisheries and Oceans
Gary Taccogna, Area Chief Oceans, Fisheries and Oceans
Pat Fairweather, Program Manager, Haida Fisheries Program
Fisheries and Oceans
Pacific Region
Suite 200 – 401 Burrard Street
V6C 3S4

January 27, 2006

Mr. Rob Pettigrew
5 –3871 River Road West
Delta, B.C.
V4K 3N2

Dear Mr. Pettigrew:


Your correspondence of December 7, 2005, written to the Honourable Geoff Regan, the Minister of
Fisheries and Oceans, has been forwarded to me for response. You write about reduced funding for
patrol services in the North Coast Area of Fisheries and Ocean’s Canada’s (DFO’s) Pacific Region.

I understand your concerns on the status of budgets, however we must operate within allocated
budgets. In order to do so, Fisheries and Oceans staff have to make informed decisions to stay within
the budget while still delivering mandated programs. The prioritized reductions in charter patrol
coverage were carefully weighed against various parameters, including the economic value of each
fishery being monitored. In addition, the strategy of monitoring key streams has been adopted, rather
than trying to monitor every stream in the area. This allows appropriate stock assessment to be
completed while staying within the budget.

You suggest that these adjustments will impact the implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy (WSP).
The WSP Implementation Team that has been formed in Pacific Region includes North Coast
representatives for stock assessment and for resource management. The strategy being adopted is to
phase in the implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy over a period of years. Over the next year,
Conservation Units (CU) will be defined and a stock assessment framework developed for each CU.
The development of the framework will outline the combination of intensive and extensive monitoring
tactics required for each CU. This work will require the review of the patrol activities you refer to. I
would encourage you to contact Mark Saunders (telephone (250) 756-7154), the (sic)

Thank you for taking the time to express your views of this funding reduction. I appreciate your
concern for British Columbia’s and Canada’s salmon resource.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Sprout
Regional Director General
Pacific Region
Rob Pettigrew
5 –3871 River Rd. West
Delta, B.C.
V4K 3N2

February 5, 2006

Mr. Paul Sprout
Regional Director General
Pacific Region
Suite 200 – 401 Burrard Street
Vancouver B.C.
V6C 3S4

Dear Mr. Sprout:

       Re: Decline in funding for Fisheries and Oceans Wild Salmon Stock Assessment

Thank you for your response dated January 27, 2006 to my letter to The Honourable
Geoff Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans at time of writing (December 7, 2005).

I disagree with several of the perspectives offered in your response. You also failed to
respond to my specific request from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) for a review of
the precipitous decline in the quality of data being gathered and fed into the regional
BC16 database program.

I feel that as Regional Director General you are responsible for insuring that there is an
adequate funding base to be able to “deliver mandated programs”. Simply stating “we
must operate within allocated budgets” is not an acceptable response to an issue that will
clearly impact the health and longevity of our finite and irreplaceable wild salmon
resource. It’s clear from data provided in my letter to The Honourable Geoff Regan cited
above, that the DFO is jeopardizing wild salmon resources through insufficient spawning
escapement data. Without an accurate and consistent flow of data year over year the
department cannot be sure of meeting it’s conservation and protection mandate and will
certainly not be able to meet the goals identified in it’s Wild Salmon Policy (WSP).

Allocating funding on the basis of “the economic value of each fishery being monitored”
discounts the value that all salmonids contribute to the riparian ecosystems of hundreds
of BC streams. If we are reduced to monitoring only those streams that harbour
commercially exploitable salmonid stocks we’ll inevitably negatively impact adjacent
streams and inlets as most terminal fisheries have a mixed stock component. You refer to
the adoption of a “strategy of monitoring key streams” in an area. I assume that you are
again referring to monitoring streams that have a potentially exploitable salmonid stock.
As I mentioned in my letter to Geoff Regan, I have worked in the Queen Charlotte Island
as a contract patrolman for twenty-five seasons and as a DFO ships division crewman for

an additional two years. The majority of salmonid bearing streams on the Charlottes
receive no monitoring coverage. Many others receive only one inspection during the
course of the spawning season. Adequate monitoring coverage is almost entirely related
to assessing potentially harvestable chum and pink stocks. Only one coho stock on the
island has received consistent monitoring to determine population trends. In the
meantime, coho are being heavily exploited by the commercial troll sector, the
commercial sports sector and by bona fide sports fishers. Many coho are also killed as
by-catch in the commercial net fisheries. North coast coho are targets of a virtually un-
managed multi-sector fishery given that population abundance is largely unknown due to
unreliable or non-existent spawning statistical data.

Reducing government expenditures is an admirable goal. Reducing budgets to the point
of potentially damaging numerous genetic stocks through over fishing is neglect. Prime
Minister Paul Martin announced a thirteen billion dollar surplus November 14, 2005. In
light of large annual budget surpluses, why have budgets for monitoring invaluable
salmonid stocks been reduced by 30% coast wide and a full 70% in the Queen Charlotte
Islands, in the last three years alone? With current levels of on the grounds field
support your Local Resource Manager Coordinators are in the uncomfortable position of
either erring through possibly over fishing a specific or adjacent salmonid stock or
missing an economic opportunity for harvest and finding an over-escapement in any of
the hundreds of B.C. streams.

The Department must turn this negative trend around. Funding for on the grounds
monitoring of salmon populations and their habitat must be restored at least to the bare
minimum levels of 2003. The DFO’s BC 16 Escapement database has already been
seriously compromised by recent dramatic cuts to contract patrol services. An audit of the
deteriorating quality of data pertaining to salmonid escapements in all B.C. streams
should be undertaken immediately.


Rob Pettigrew

c. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister, Canada
c. John Cummins, MP Delta – Richmond East, B.C.


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