With pressures mounting on wild salmon stocks, the British Columbia government is bringing together experts from around the province to develop a strategy for restoring and sustaining B.C.’s salmon populations, announced Premier John Horgan.
The Wild Salmon Advisory Council will provide key insights and guidance on protecting wild salmon and maximizing the value of this important resource for British Columbia. Premier Horgan announced the new council alongside Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, and Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.“Wild salmon are crucial to the success of our economy, the prosperity of coastal communities, and the lives, culture, and history of Indigenous peoples,” Premier Horgan said. “The Wild Salmon Advisory Council brings experts together to help develop a wild salmon strategy to protect B.C. salmon today and for future generations.”
Co-chairs Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, and Chief Marilyn Slett of the Heiltsuk First Nation, will lead the council, as it addresses a wide range of issues affecting wild salmon.
“Wild salmon play a unique role in our coastal ecosystems and underpin the prosperity of so many B.C. communities,” Popham said. “The challenges and pressures affecting wild salmon stocks in B.C. are complex. It’s important that we work with people with diverse expertise to find solutions, restore healthy fish stocks, and protect wild salmon. I look forward to working with our federal partners as we move forward to protect wild salmon.”
The Wild Salmon Advisory Council will consist of 14 British Columbians who have a broad understanding of the role that salmon play within B.C.’s environment, for coastal and inland Indigenous communities, and local economies up and down the coast.
“I am thrilled to see some progress on the wild salmon file,” Olsen said. “The threats to fish stocks are many – habitat and ecosystem degradation, poor management, fish farms, climate change – and the majority of B.C.’s salmon runs are in decline. The Wild Salmon Advisory Council needs to act decisively to give government clear direction on the path forward. The most important thing this government can do to restore wild salmon populations is to move from consultation to action, with urgency. We cannot continue to manage wild salmon runs to zero. I look forward to my role on this council.”
Government will begin developing proposals for a made-in-B.C. wild salmon strategy this summer, supported by the advice and guidance of the Wild Salmon Advisory Council. The Province will then submit recommendations in fall 2018 to the legislative assembly’s Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish, and Food. Those recommendations will support a public consultation process to examine the health, habitat, and management of wild salmon and the sustainability of the wild salmon industry in British Columbia. The process will inform the development a wild salmon strategy for B.C.
The B.C. government’s newly announced wild salmon advisory council doesn’t give enough voice to conservation advocates, according to one campaigner.
Stan Proboszcz, science and campaign advisor for the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, says that wild salmon are in crisis and the province is using its new panel to avoid dealing with the problem.
“We’ve had so many processes and inquiries and investigations,” said Proboszcz, after learning about the government’s plans. “I’m not really sure what a new one, a provincially led one, is going to reveal.”
CLICK HERE to see the biographies of Advisory Board Council