The federal government is offering to buy Pacific salmon commercial fishing licences from those looking to get out of the declining industry as it tries to protect the fish that remain.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has earmarked $123 million for the voluntary retirement program and two future initiatives that will dispose of derelict vessels and allow Indigenous communal commercial licence holders to switch to another species.
The funding is part of a nearly $650-million Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative announced last year.
Jeff Grout, a salmon resource manager with Fisheries, says about 1,300 licences are eligible for the program, which will buy them at market rate and take them out of circulation.
Neil Davis, regional director of fisheries management, says there is no way to know how many licence holders will take the government up on its offer, but the goal is to end up with a “substantial reduction” in fleet size.
Fisheries and Oceans has said many salmon stocks are declining to “historic lows” due to the effects of climate change, habitat loss and other threats.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2022.