North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney has heard back from the government regarding her riding’s concerns about chinook fishery closures.
“Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is working to acknowledge the many Canadians who wrote in on this issue,” stated Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a response letter dated June 5. “I understand your concerns regarding the economic and social impacts of the reduced fishing opportunities for salmon. It is a difficult time for coastal communities that rely on the fishing industry, and for British Columbians who have an enduring connection with Pacific salmon.”
Wilkinson noted that DFO “understands that this resource is of tremendous value for natural ecosystems, cultural and spiritual practices, jobs and income,and recreational enjoyment along the coast and inland watersheds of the Pacific Region” and that DFO “along with others, urgently needs to address the declinesand changes of marine life, fresh water habitat, and ecosystems that are affecting salmon and the communities that rely on them.” According to Wilkinson, “Last year, management measures were introduced to reduce fishery mortalities in British Columbia Chinook populations of concern by 25 to 35 per cent. This includes Chinook salmon of Skeena, Nass, and Fraser River origin. However, preliminary data indicates that the 2018 target reductions were not achieved, and Fraser River Chinook salmon continued to decline.”
He noted that despite DFO’s best efforts, “a broad pattern of decline has affected many chinook salmon populations in southern BC. These populations require bold action to prevent extinction.”
As such, DFO has decided to introduce new management measures for Fraser River chinook salmon in 2019.
“These measures build on actions taken last year, introducing new constraints across all fisheries encountering chinook,and minimizing mortalities in commercial, recreational,and First Nations fisheries,” said Wilkinson. “Sweeping measures across Southern British Columbia reflect the urgent need to lessen pressure on chinook stocks. The goal for 2019 is to allow as many endangered and threatened Fraser River Chinook salmon to reach their spawning grounds as possible.”
However, Wilkinson noted that fishery management measures alone will not restore wild salmon. “To that end, the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and innovation Fund, a collaborative initiative with the Province of BC, will provide up to $l42.85 million in new investments over five years. The fund will support protection and restoration activities for priority wild fish stocks, including salmon, and help ensure that the fish and seafood sector in BC is positioned for long—term environmental and economic sustainability. This is only one part of a comprehensive approach to restoring the
health of wild salmon stocks which includes habitat protection, habitat restoration, science, and the effects of predation.”
Wilkinson ended the letter by stating that “Given the complex life cycles of wild salmon, and the multiple jurisdictions and regulatory frameworks implicated, it is critical that all affected sectors and governments continue to work together on a holistic approach to salmon conservation. Thank you for writing. I am confident that by working together we will secure a brighter future for wild Pacific salmon in British Columbia.”