The present moment is a powerful goddess.  Goethe

           The three legged stool metaphor for sustainability, a balance

    between the economy, society and the environment, is a prime example of

    the self-interest bias that wrong foots decision making in fisheries and

    forestry in B.C.  Focusing narrowly upon the present economic generation

    ignores solutions, misdiagnosing symptoms for problems.   The politics

    and media coverage of both the Mifflin Plan and Golden's Evans Forest

    Products ignore the historical dimensions of unsustainable fishing and

    logging and the necessary changes that need to be made. 

           A three legged stool will only remain usable if each of its legs

    is equal and strong.  Sustainability in this metaphor is a question of

    balance.  Unfortunately, from any point of view except our own in the

    immediate present it is ludicrous to suggest that the economy, society

    and the environment are equally important.  Salmon provide a good il-


           Salmon as a species are more than one hundred million  years old and

    salmon runs on this Coast have adapted to the changing geology of hundreds

    of thousand year glaciation cycles, cycles in which the mighty Fraser is

    but a most recent rivulet.

           People have been fishing salmon on this Coast for at least one

    hundred centuries.  Salmon have been a prime resource in the development

    and maintenance of generations of individual cultures (societies) on this

   Coast over the ten thousand years since the last glaciation.

           The present salmon fishing economy is scarcely more than a century

    old.  This particular approach to utilizing salmon, combined with damage to

    local salmon habitat, has endangered untold future generations of fishers

    by eliminating or seriously threatening the vast majority of salmon runs

    on this Coast.

           The present generation of fishers (sports, commercial, aboriginal)

    is but one wave on the beach in salmon time, a speck in the eye in the

    lifetime of the salmon fisher (society) on this Coast, but they are the

    overwhelming focus of the fisheries management debate.   Fishers' problems:

    access, finances, entitlement, etc., and not the problem of disastrous

    management of human interaction with salmon, drives the debate.   This focus

    limits a search for solutions that will safeguard salmon opportunity for

    untold future generations of fishers on this Coast.

           There is no immediate shortage of salmon for fishers. The problem

    is more complex and insidious.  Salmon are divided into thousands of

    genetic sub groups each specific to a particular fresh water tributary.

    While many runs remain bountifully healthy, non-specific overfishing com-

    bined with habitat degradation has already eliminated or presently

    threatens the majority of salmon runs.

           The solution is regulating all fishers (and all habitat degrading

    human interaction) so that each specific salmon run has a chance to

    rebuild to ecologically sustainable levels.  One necessary component is

    the elimination of non-specific fishery methods.  Seine and gillnet har-

    vesting methods should be replaced by a specific trap and weir fishery

    augmented by an information producing troller fishery.

           This trap and weir commercial and aboriginal fishery methodology is

   efficient, easily regulated, and, above all, sustainable.   Combined with

   land use and sports fishing regulations that are salmon run specific, there

   would be every hope of unabated opportunity for untold generations of

   future fishers.

           Unfortunately, this restatement of the problem and solutions is

   not even on the menu for debate.  Attention is almost completely focused

   upon the economic welfare of but one generation of fishers.  The entire

   Mifflin Plan debate concerns the welfare of this one generation of fishers,

   and the short term economies of their communities.  Complete elimination

   of seiners and gillnetters is considered politically impossible.

           Instead of perceiving the economy as a subset of society, which in

   turn is utterly dependent upon the continuing health of the environment in

   which it is nested, balance is contrived as maintaining the stability of the

   status quo even when, as is the case with the seine and gillnet fishery,

   there is no question that this status quo is endangering the environmental

   basis for both the society and its temporal economy.

           In forestry the sustained yield methodological analogue of this

   relentlessly economic approach to management continues to limit opportunity

   for future generations of British Columbians: future forest workers, rec-

   reationalists, all our forest dependent communities - all dependent on water

   and oxygen-carbon regulation as well as on timber and fibre opportunity.

   The NDP forest and land use policies parallel the Mifflin Plan in being

   totally focused on the needs of the present generation of stakeholders.

   Their balanced approach to maintaining business as usual continues to

   ignore the basic problem of an approach to forestry that endangers forests.

           Salmon and trees and all those multitudes of future generations

   of British Columbians have no vote, no say, in fisheries and forestry

   management.  Markets don't aggregate their preference;   media don't convey

   their views to informed publics.  Democracy remains management for the

   privileged few - us.  Self-interest relentlessly erodes the salmon and forest

   basis for politics, markets and democracy, perhaps even, incredibly, en-

   dangering the future of salmon and forest on this Earth.   Consider this

   when you read the next story about angry fishers or an over-regulated

   forest industry.

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