Protect Wild Salmon

The Goals

Our work on this issue is two-fold. The first focus is to support and promote shifting of fisheries management to First Nations and other communities with local knowledge of salmon stocks, fisheries and habitat conservation issues. Click here to send your own letter to all BC Members of Parliament and help us convey that this issue is a priority for British Columbians as voters.

Beyond this, we're working with our partners in and beyond the Great Bear Rainforest to protect existing wild salmon stocks and allow them to rebuild through action on climate change, habitat protection and restoration, pollution control and an end to open net-cage salmon aquaculture. Help support the campaign to end open net-cage salmon aquaculture in B.C. by taking one of these actions.

The Issue

Wild salmon are in decline in B.C. Sockeye stocks have been in overall decline since at least the 1950s, while chinook and coho stocks in particular have been in severe decline since 1990. Wild salmon in this province face a number of threats throughout their lifecycle, including:

  • Widespread destruction of upstream habitat caused by logging, roadbuilding, pipelines and other land use changes;

  • Reduced food supply caused by over-exploitation of forage fish species;

  • Warming waters due to climate change;

  • Pathogens and parasites spread by fish farms;

  • Aquatic pollution from agriculture, cities and industry;

  • Competition with and loss of genetic diversity among hatchery-raised fish;

  • Destructive fishing practices and overfishing. 

Several pieces of legislation, government-issued reports, commissions, policies and court rulings including the Species at Risk Act, Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy and the Cohen Commission Report have spelled out the threats to wild salmon and the changes that need to be made to protect them. For the past several years, the federal government has moved in the other direction, cutting DFO’s budget by $100 million and habitat staff by one third from 2012-2016. They gutted the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act of legal protections for wild salmon and other wildlife habitat and have failed to act on the recommendations of taxpayer-funded research into salmon declines. The new Liberal Federal government has committed to review and restore these lost protections. While this is great news, we must watch closely to ensure that there is real follow-through.  

The federal and B.C. provincial governments are also actively promoting salmon aquaculture, despite the fact that open net-cage fish farms (there are over 100 of them along on the B.C. coast, 98% owned by Norwegian companies) generate a small fraction of the income and employment brought by wild fisheries. Open net-cage salmon farms come with a host of environmental problems, from imported diseases and escapes of alien species to waste dumping. Many of these salmon feedlots are sited along the migration routes of wild salmon.  

Proper protection of wild salmon and their habitat benefits many species and ecosystems as well as drinking water, air quality, soil conservation and human health. However, their protection is in conflict with the kind of destructive industrial resource extraction the federal and provincial governments are pinning our economy on. In short, wild salmon are under direct threat from current government policies. 

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