A petition from B.C. salmon anglers angry for being shut out of the public fishery was tabled today in the House of Commons, demanding the fisheries minister develop a comprehensive recovery strategy for Fraser River stocks of concern.
The petition was initiated by Surrey’s Bill Braidwood and tabled by North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold. The Public Fishery Alliance, a loosely organized group of B.C. anglers, has championed the petition since its inception, garnering 2,654 signatures to date. It required only 500 to be tabled.
“The Trudeau government’s promises of restoring our Pacific salmon stocks have failed while successive fisheries ministers have chosen to ignore viable and proven proposals for restoring and conserving populations that continue to decline,” Arnold said. “The support this petition received from coast-to-coast-to-coast demonstrates that our Pacific public fishery and salmon stocks are of national significance and that it is time for the federal government to pivot from their failed strategies and adopt proven solutions in a comprehensive recovery strategy to benefit salmon and fisheries.”
Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan has 45 days to formally respond to the petition.
This summer, acting on record-low returns, the government’s 2020 Fraser River Chinook salmon management measures expanded on sweeping closures and restrictions imposed last year. DFO said the they were necessary to protect 12 of 13 wild Fraser River Chinook runs assessed to be at-risk.
The angling community and members of the Sport Fishing Advisory Boards (SFAB), among several groups consulted on management plans, railed against the measures for ignoring proposals they said were based on positive scientific findings that support a selective fishery on healthy runs, while avoiding stocks of concern.
“We go to DFO, we meet with them, we give them science-based information showing we’re impacting the Fraser River stocks by less than one per cent … we’re not impacting these fish in any meaningful way, yet they shut us down. If this was for conservation I would understand, but we’re pawns for their political interests [with other fisheries].”
The petition also calls on the minister to adjust Fraser River chinook salmon management measures to allow anglers to access marked hatchery chinook and other stocks of abundance.