BCWF Testifies to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on ‘State of Pacific Salmon’

On Wednesday, May 5th, 2021 Jesse Zeman, BCWF director of fish and wildlife restoration was invited as a witness to present to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) in regard to the study on the ‘State of Pacific Salmon’.

He presented on what actions should be taken now for Pacific salmon alongside other witnesses including Fin Donnelly, MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and Parliamentary Secretary, Fisheries and Aquaculture from the Government of British Columbia, Jason Hwang, Vice President at the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Darren Haskell, President of Fraser Salmon Management Council, Tl’azt’en First Nation, and Aaron Hill, Executive Director at Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

Excerpt of the Presentation

“You are all aware salmon are in critical care. The first thing we need to do is stop the bleeding. That means that we stop killing endangered fish before they reach their spawning grounds. In 2019, the minister committed to protecting endangered spring and summer Fraser Chinook runs, which are 4-2 and 5-2 by limiting mortality in Canadian fisheries to 5%. This limit was exceeded by over 100% the very first year. In 2020, fisheries in the Fraser River alone exceeded this limit by over 300% for 4-2 fish. The ministry has set a limit and DFO has shown that it is unable to meet it. This scenario has been repeated for Interior Fraser steelhead and Fraser River sockeye. Sciences should identify if there is a harvestable surplus of fish and how many can be harvested by fishers. Management’s job is to figure out how to keep that harvest within the limits identified by scientists. It seems DFO management needs an intervention as it consistently demonstrates it is incapable of sustainably managing fishing. After we stop killing endangered fish, the committee should recognize there is likely no silver bullet to salmon recovery and as a result, there is no silver bullet in terms of how to spend the money. Both the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia have separate yet overlapping responsibilities and legislation in terms of managing salmon and salmon habitat. The relationship between DFO and the province can be described as poor. Political will is the only tool we have to improve that.”

Watch the full recording of the meeting on ParlVu here.

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