In the last year the provincial government in BC has taken several important steps towards recovery of wild salmon and the fishing economy they support. Among these steps is an agreement to remove salmon farms from the Broughton Archipelago, and convening a group of First Nations and fishing industry leaders to develop a strategy for supporting sustainable fisheries and recovery of wild salmon. The province is accepting comments on their options paper until January 10th.
A couple of talking points that I raised in my comments were:
1. There are no scientists or conservation groups represented on the advisory panel, this is a big problem.
2. BC should emphasize freshwater habitat protection as the foundation for healthy wild salmon populations and fisheries.
3. Ongoing efforts to remove salmon farms from the marine environment and onto land will likely lead to higher survival and abundance for many populations of salmon in southern BC. The science is clear that removing open net pen salmon farming from BC waters will help.
4. Large-scale hatchery supplementation is not the answer. Hatcheries pose serious risks to the productivity and evolutionary legacy of wild salmon and should be used cautiously and only in places where their impacts on wild salmon can be proven to be minimal.
5. We should be clipping all hatchery fish in BC so fish can be selectively harvested.
6. Experimental hunting of seals and sea lions is an important avenue to understanding the impact of marine mammals on wild salmon. First Nations managed marine mammals for millennia and our idea of "baseline" conditions for wild salmon reflects this reality.
So please, take some time in the next 10 days to read the options paper, come to your own conclusions and submit your comments on this important issue.