Vancouver, British Columbia – “Pacific salmon are in a long-term decline, with many runs on the verge of collapse”.
The Government of Canada is taking decisive steps under the “Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative” (PSSI), to combat these steep declines. To give salmon a fighting chance at survival.
We’ve seen decades-long salmon stock’s decline. These are due to a complex combination of climate change, habitat degradation, and harvesting impacts. Bold action is needed now to stabilize and rebuild the stock’s before it is too late.
Today the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries & Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced initial steps towards longer-term reductions in fishing stock pressures. Fishing stocks are in need of conservation concern’s. With significant commercial salmon closures for the 2021 season.
These closures, affecting Commercial salmon fisheries and First Nations Communal Commercial fisheries, will further reduce pressure on salmon stocks and will be included in the 2021-22 Pacific Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan. These conservation-driven management decisions will provide strong protection for the most fragile stocks of concern across the Pacific region.
New data from the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC), for which Canada is a member, shows that the global catch of Pacific salmon in 2020 was the lowest since 1982.
Strong management measures will be in place for all salmon fishing sectors in 2021. They are in line with a precautionary approach, based on conservation and sustainability. These plans are outlined in the 2021-2022 Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan. They result in closures to nearly 60 per cent of commercial salmon fisheries for the 2021 season.
Understanding that stocks may need multiple generations to stabilize and rebuild. These closures will have an economic impact on harvesters. So the Minister is also announcing the Pacific Salmon Commercial Transition Program.
This voluntary salmon licence retirement program will provide harvesters with the option to retire their licences for fair market value. This will facilitate the transition to a smaller commercial harvesting sector. Permanently removing fishing effort will support the economic viability of the fishery in the long term. Closures will protect salmon stocks and give them an opportunity to stabilize.
For First Nations communal-commercial harvesters, the Department will meaningfully consult on options to shift to a more selective fishing gear. Or where available, to licences for other non-salmon species. These mitigation measures allow for continued economic opportunity agreements under the communal-commercial licence. Thus helping reduce interactions with at-risk stocks.
Indigenous partners, harvesting groups and stakeholders have been calling for change. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has been listening – the many proposed projects in the PSSI answer that call for change. DFO has already begun consultations, using the vast knowledge that already exists on how best to bring about these changes and make the greatest impact on Pacific salmon sustainability.
The Department will also be engaging immediately with First Nations, harvesters, industry members and partners across the Pacific region on the impacts of the commercial closures and the collaborative development of the mitigation program.
These much needed steps towards a new modernized commercial salmon management system, are part of the Harvest Transformation pillar, under the $647.1 million PSSI. The largest, most transformative investment Canada has ever made to save wild salmon.
The loss of salmon populations would be disastrous not just for the people, but wildlife that depend on them as a food source. Also for the many BC communities whose jobs and ways of life depend on salmon.
That’s why the Government of Canada has taken, and will continue to take urgent and concrete actions to ensure that salmon are protected for future generations.