British Columbia’s wild salmon face a series of complex threats that a new report says requires urgent and strategic intervention.
The B.C. government appointed the Wild Salmon Advisory Council earlier this year to provide insight and guidance on protecting provincial salmon stocks, while maximizing their resource value.
The report released Thursday says while it’s difficult to pinpoint the state of salmon in the province, it’s clear that across all regions and species, overall abundance has declined since the 1950s.
The report says poor marine survival rates, changing ocean conditions, habitat loss and inadequate water quality are all taking a toll on salmon.
The council makes 14 recommendations for a made-in-B.C. strategy to protect the salmon, including restoring habitat, increasing production of juvenile salmon, supporting value-added fishing opportunities and tourism and working with Indigenous communities on harvest and conservation goals.
The release of the report coincides with the declaration of the International Year of the Salmon, and federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson also introduced his government’s five-year plan to help rebuild Pacific wild salmon populations and their habitats.
“Our government will continue to protect this species, which has such cultural, social and economic significance for Canadians,” Wilkinson said. “Together, we can help rebuild these stocks for the benefit of our entire ecosystem and for generations to come.”
The federal Wild Salmon Policy is a result of two years of consultations sessions across B.C. and Yukon, a government news release said.
Adam Olsen, a B.C. Green party member of the legislature and a member of the Wild Salmon Advisory Council, said the provincial report is a clear pathway to develop policies to protect wild salmon.
“Now that we have this report, the government should act swiftly to enact policies that will lead to measurable progress.”