Wild salmon are the backbone of the pacific coast

“There has to be a solution to retain and sustain our wild fish”

I’m writing this article today to share how important wild salmon and the right to fish as well as the sports fishery is to me and my family.

I would like to start out and say I’m a single dad, so investing in the wild salmon fishery is not just investing in salmon, but it provides a future for myself and my four-year-old daughter.

It literally puts the food on our table.

Without it, I would be out working in some logging or oil sands camp, like I did for many years, trying to watch my daughter grow up over an iPhone on FaceTime like so many other people do nowadays.

I struggled for many years to get my company off the ground, and I finally did it.

I had help from a lot of great people.

Without them, I’m not sure I would have made this future possible.

Being a small business owner is pretty tough sledding, and it’s mostly uphill.

So I will say it again, when you support our wild fishery you’re not just supporting me and my family, but the thousands of other families on the it supports on the coast as well.

I consider what I do for a living to be a great privilege.

Like no other animal, salmon interacts with all human value systems; intrinsic, aesthetic, cultural, ecological, recreational, economic, spiritual, political, nutritional and social.

There are no other species more “valuable” in Canada’s Pacific Ocean, and I truly believe wild salmon are a national treasure.

Because they live in streams, lakes, rivers, estuaries and open ocean, the health of salmon populations are a good indicator of how well we are taking care of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems along Canada’s Pacific coastline.

If we have abundant healthy salmon runs, then we have probably achieved the goal of managing human activities with ecosystems in mind.

Unfortunately, we continue to lose salmon runs, and many salmon stocks are experiencing unprecedented declines, suggesting we have a lot more work to do.

Their future is in jeopardy.

They are under threat and not just from natural predators, but from sea lice and disease from open net farming.

There are over 70 licensed closed containment fin-fish farms in B.C. growing salmon, tilapia, crayfish, and trout.

I do realize that without having farmed fish to offset the world’s consumption of wild fish, it would cause an issue just from restaurants alone, and not to mention what people consume from the local grocery store.

Being a chef by trade for over 20-years, I can attest to this.

I will also say this: I have worked for a fish farm company in Tofino farming pacific chinooks from the local hatchery until somehow they lost their supply through an accident at the hatchery, I believe.

In my time spent there I can say that I saw very few sea lice, if any at all, and no chemicals were used ever to clean equipment or fish at sea.

So not all farms are bad.

There were only 30,000 fish per pen, not 100,000, and the fish farmed there were local, not Atlantic.

That being said, some of the fish I encountered did contain the BKD, Junadra, pop eye and yellow disease, which are not transferable to humans, as of yet…

Also at that time, PRV was not an issue like it is today.

But it’s not only the farms that are to blame.

Both legal and illegal gillnetting in our river system by our counterparts are also causing the depletion of our wild salmon and steelhead.

So what I am getting at here, is please support our wild salmon industry.

If you’re a sports fishermen, make sure you get your salmon tags.

If you’re a guide or commercial fisherman, or even an avid recreational fisherman for that matter, volunteer at your local hatchery.

Make people aware, share your info, don’t keep it a secret, and get it out there.

My father is from Bell Island, Newfoundland, and in his lifetime he saw the decline and eventual extinction of not only the cod fishery, but the Atlantic salmon fishery as well.

I believe you can only catch a salmon on the fly now.

The regulations used to be one per day for 12 days and now are lower.

My family and others were decimated by the loss of the fishery.

I believe with what we know now today, this may have been prevented and it’s our duty to see that it doesn’t happen to the Pacific Coast.

If we don’t find a solution for chemically treated salmon and sea lice, the very fish that are supposed to help ease the stress of the world’s consumption will indeed kill it.

There has to be a solution to retain and sustain our wild fish, and to say the wild salmon are standing in the way of the farmed industry, is just a ludicrous way of thinking.

I truly believe the hatchery program will provide help with this and I am a huge supporter of it.

Scotty Products makes the Jordan / Scotty Fish Egg Incubator, where all you need to do is approach a hatchery and buy eggs.

I think if people got behind this it would make a big difference.

But I also believe the commercial aspect and techniques they use need to change as well, no matter what platform is being used.

I believe our wild salmon are important — there is a need to educate everyone on just how important they really are. These mighty fish are truly the backbone of BC’s coast.

Steven Cahill is a Field Tester for Gibbs Delta Tackle, Oki Tackle, Pesca Lures and freelance writer as well as Owner of Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters located in Port McNeill Toll-Free:1-855-805(FISH)3474 Cell 250-230-0579 www.vanislefishing.com

* The views and opinions expressed in this opinion-editorial are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the North Island Gazette. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us to contribute to the discussion.

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