The Public Fishery Alliance continues to take a stand against the Liberal Government and their unwarranted devastation of the BC Public Salmon Fishery. For the past two years, their actions have had devastating consequences for our Public fishery. Many hard-working Canadians in the public fishing sector are now without jobs and the infrastructure that supports angling is struggling. COVID-19 has magnified these social and economic impacts. In short, our BC Public Salmon Fishery is on life support due to decisions which defy logic, run contrary to science-based fisheries management and to their own Federal Fisheries mandate.
Today, we delivered an Open Letter to Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, and released this letter to media outlets from West Coast to East Coast. Please take a few moments to read our letter to Minister Jordan below.
We ask you to consider sharing this letter with your friends, family, and colleagues, and/or on the social media channel of your choice. If we want to preserve BC’s Public Salmon Fishery for future generations, the time to act is now. We need your support. Please stand with us and deliver this powerful message to the Liberal Government.
Attn: The Honourable Bernadette Jordan
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
House of Commons
Dear Minister Jordan,
Re: Liberal Government’s Unwarranted Devastation of B.C.’s Public Salmon Fishery
For the past two years your department has prevented the Public fishery from keeping any Chinook in critically important Southern BC salt and freshwater angling areas, even when no Fraser River Chinook stocks of concern are present. Furthermore, between April 1st and July 31st, keeping abundant US hatchery Chinook has also been off limits in areas where they make up a very high percentage of the Chinook stocks present.
These actions have had devastating consequences for the Public fishery. Many hard-working Canadians in the public fishing sector are now without jobs and the infrastructure that supports angling is struggling. COVID-19 has magnified these social and economic impacts.
In December 2019, Prime Minister Trudeau described your mandate as follows “As Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, you will lead the Government’s work to sustain and rebuild the fisheries, and ensure that they remain healthy for future generations, while providing important economic opportunities to Canadians and coastal communities.”
In early 2020, the Federal Fisheries Minister’s Sport Fishing Advisory Board submitted a fishing plan that included opportunities to catch and keep abundant Chinook salmon (details at this link: https://publicfisheryalliance.ca/open-letter-background/). It was developed with DFO staff specifically to avoid wild Fraser River stocks of concern using DFO’s latest scientific data. It also offered a minimal, but sustainable, opportunity for the Public fishery during these extraordinary times. Yet, your department refused to implement the entire proposal, devastating Georgia Strait, Juan de Fuca Strait and lower Fraser River Public Fisheries. Not adopting this fishing plan defies logic, runs contrary to science-based fisheries management and to your mandate.
Specific Fraser River Chinook stocks are undeniably in trouble. The Public Fishery Alliance (PFA) strongly supports the immediate implementation of a comprehensive recovery program. The BC angling community has been pursuing this objective with your department for fifteen years. Yet, since 2008, increased fishing restrictions including closures are the only tools the department has used. The recovery so far, is a wretched failure.
The PFA recognize Fraser Chinook recovery will take many years. We also understand recovery of these wild Chinook is attainable, as is providing sustainable fishing opportunities without detriment to stocks of concern. These dual objectives are critically important. Our sector must have some form of meaningful access to Chinook stocks that are not in trouble, in order to maintain hope for surviving these extremely difficult times.
We do not comprehend your unwillingness to follow your mandate. The ban on keeping Hatchery marked, or abundant Chinook defies logic at times and in areas like Howe Sound, Lower Georgia Strait and others identified in the Sport Fishing Advisory Board Proposal where there is zero evidence of the presence of stocks of concern. The Public fishery must be allowed to retain Chinook in these areas. Anglers should also be able to keep US hatchery produced Chinook in Juan de Fuca Strait during April and May in 2021 and elsewhere if abundant hatchery Chinook are present.
These fisheries are defensible because:
- This fishing plan allows anglers to keep Chinook in areas where weak runs of Fraser River Chinook do not occur based on decades of DFO data.
- Retaining identifiable hatchery Chinook and releasing wild Chinook produces a known conservation benefit. This conservation and fishery saving tool is currently in use in Washington State.
- Hatchery Chinook account for greater than 70% of the salmon present in JDF in April and May and it has been identified as a viable fishery candidate.
- Wherever the 2019 & 2020 Chinook Public fishery restriction applied, no coded wire tags were turned in, significantly compromising data recovery programs. Allowing anglers to keep hatchery Chinook will result in the recovery of coded wire tags for critical scientific assessment.
Continuing your department’s heavy handed and overly broad Chinook regulation for a third year will systematically dismantle the Public salmon fishery.
The PFA strongly recommends your department allow anglers to keep Chinook as described. Failure to do so reinforces the common view that science-based fisheries management and your mandate letter from Prime Minister Trudeau are not guiding your actions. Canadians deserve to know how your department operates and where it stands with respect to their interests, especially as a general election seems close at hand.
on behalf of the Board of Directors
Public Fishery Alliance is a broad-based organization, representing the interests of BC Anglers.