To: The Honourable John Horgan
Premier of British Columbia
P. O. Box 9041
Station Provincial Government
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1
To: Ms. Rebecca Reid
Regional Director General – Pacific Region
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian coast Guard
200-401 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 3S4
Re: Skeena Anadromous Trout and Salmon Management
Dear Premier Horgan and Ms. Reid,
It has come to our attention that the number of adult Steelhead returning to the Skeena River this year appears to be below forecast, perhaps extremely low. While we fully support conservation of anadromous wild trout and salmon, we are also concerned for all anglers who fish the Skeena River Watershed.
We have received plausible reports, although unverified, of government taking some form of remedial action in the very near future. Should emergency fisheries management measures for Steelhead, and possibly other salmon species too, need to be implemented to address unanticipated low abundance, the Public Fishery Alliance (PFA) makes the following urgent requests. We strongly advise you to thoroughly consult and work closely with all harvest sectors to develop a fair and workable revised fishing plan as soon as possible. Mirror order closures should only be used as a very last resort and if deemed necessary, then any closures be time and area based to avoid shutting the entire system.
Our current fragile economy and the slow emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic have been particularly challenging for the many individuals and small businesses who support the angling community. A drastic change in the fishing plan in mid-season, especially if it comes ‘out of the blue’ could have catastrophic impacts and may well result in fragile businesses failing unnecessarily. All Canadians in British Columbia deserve fair treatment. The PFA ask that government, both Federal and Provincial, do all they can to accommodate the Skeena angling community and listen to their proposed solutions to this possible crisis. Solutions that strike a balance between maintaining a limited fishery while addressing conservation objectives.
In addition, we fully respect the constitutional rights of Indigenous fishers, but we request that the angling community be given fair treatment too. We are aware that the brunt of reductions in exploitation have to be borne by the commercial and public fisheries, but clearly, we do not
support their unnecessary ruin. Our impact on Steelhead is based on a very low mortality from non-retention fisheries, by definition our opportunities are based on conservation and the Public Fishery can and does fish selectively. We do not engage in catch and kill fishing or
death of low abundant fish in indiscriminate net fisheries that might result in Steelhead as a by-catch. By this letter we request you direct your fisheries managers to open meaningful consultation with ALL who may be impacted by any emergency fisheries management actions being contemplated on the Skeena River Watershed as soon as possible.
Thank you in advance for your immediate assistance.
Yours in conservation
Signed on behalf of the Board of Directors
by Christopher Bos
Jennifer Davis – BC Min. of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural
Development – Director
Sandra Davies – DFO – North Coast Area – Section Head Salmon