NDP members of parliament representing Vancouver Island and coastal communities are calling on Fisheries Minister Jonathon Wilkinson to consider allowing for the retention of marked, or hatchery-raised, chinook salmon.
“We support conservation, however, the impacts of chinook restrictions are substantial on B.C. anglers and coastal communities,” says Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, NDP Critic for Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard. “In meetings with Minister Wilkinson, we were told marked chinook retention was being looked at, but we’ve heard nothing. Today (July 15), we are asking the government to make it a priority.”
The call comes the same day as a peaceful protest in Victoria by sport fishers. Anglers from across coastal B.C. gathered off the Ogden Point breakwater to urge the federal government to allow retention of marked chinook.
Sport fishers say allowing retention would have minimal impacts on Fraser chinook returns, and would greatly benefit an industry reeling from the impact of the sweeping closures and restrictions which took effect in the spring.
Owen Bird, executive director of the Sport Fishing Institute of B.C., said marked fish isn’t the only issue sport fishers are waiting to see government action on.
“As well as marked, select fisheries, we are also keen to see discussion around production, marking rates, and recovery plans for the stocks,” Bird said. “We’re not hearing enough about that, and it’s a major component of the issue.”