Open Letters, consistent, thoughtful feedback and advice from the public fishery and defensible catch data have all been largely ignored in forming the Fraser River Chinook management measures announced today. While the public fishery strongly supports a commitment to reverse the decline of Chinook stocks, the measures chosen today make clear that the Department have not grasped that sustainability includes both ecological and socio-economic well-being.
The plan, details linked here in the News Release and Backgrounder, shows no consideration for impact on coastal and indigenous communities on the south coast of BC. The hope now is that in the long term these measures will be combined with other actions including predator control, mass marking, stock enhancement and habitat rehabilitation. In the near term we all brace for the impacts that will come from this decision.
The SFI is profoundly disappointed that DFO has made a decision to cause significant social and economic harm to coastal communities in Southern BC.
The SFI has consistently urged DFO to adopt a balanced approach that promotes stock rebuilding while at the same time providing a level of access that would allow the public fishery to survive. To assist DFO in achieving this goal, the sport fishing community provided an option to DFO that would allow 90% of the Chinook stocks of concern to spawn. DFO has rejected that option in favour of implementing a suite of management measures that will ruin the economy of many small coastal communities in BC. This choice was made in an attempt to return 95% of those stocks to the spawning grounds. Those additional 5% savings to the stocks of concern are not measurable by DFO, yet the impacts to families, businesses and citizens will be enormous.
Anglers acknowledge that there is a serious conservation concern for specific stocks of Fraser Chinook, and have always been leaders in stewardship, enhancement and conservation of the salmon they depend on. They have also been at the forefront of consistent and constant urging of DFO to address the real threats to Fraser River Chinook such as habitat degradation, predators and pollution. To date, DFO has done nothing meaningful to address these concerns, and in fact has closed almost all of its Chinook hatcheries on the Fraser over the past two decades.
Coastal Communities in southern BC are now paying the price for inaction.
The only bright spot for the future is that DFO and the Province of BC are working together to implement the new BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund that will inject $142 million in to rebuilding salmon stocks in BC. Coastal and Interior communities that depend on salmon are counting on governments to invest wisely and immediately in projects that will make a difference where it is needed.
Until next time, tight lines,