Wild salmon stocks the world over are in decline. Many species of wild salmon are at risk and research shows wild salmon are negatively impacted wherever there are open-net pen salmon farms. Yet there are hundreds of open-net pen farms in dangerous proximity to wild salmon spawning runs. These open-net pen commercial fish farms are breeding grounds for viruses, disease, and sea lice. And what’s worse? We have seen an increase in the levels of Sea Lice on wild salmon in our own Broughton, while salmon returns to the Fraser continue to fall far below expectation.
We must work together to take action before it’s too late.
In 2017, Fisheries and Oceans Canada forecasted a Fraser River salmon run of approximately 4.4 million sockeye, but sadly only 1.5 million returned. A study published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences found monitoring is at a record low and that the department does not have enough data to determine the status of half of all managed salmon populations along British Columbia’s northern and central coasts.
And so wild salmon and all that they represent – environmentally, economically, and culturally – are at risk.
The Cohen Commission report warned of exactly these problems and laid out 75 recommendations for the Government of Canada in 2012. The report was meant to serve as a roadmap to restoring Pacific salmon populations and re-establishing sustainable communities and economies that depend on salmon, but sadly many of the recommendations are still outstanding.
The collapse of a wild fish population has happened before. In 1992, Canada’s Fisheries Minister was forced to ban fishing cod off the Atlantic coast. The northern cod stock, once one of the richest fisheries in the world, had collapsed, throwing our ecosystem into shock and putting 40,000 fishermen and fish processors out of work.
We need to work with our Federal and Provincial governments, using history and science as our guides, to ensure the continued survival of wild salmon in coastal waters and rivers.