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The Government of Canada takes new measures to protect fish in the Pacific

July 1, 2021  By Hatchery International Staff

As the Pacific salmon population steadily declines, the Government of Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans minister, Bernadette Jordan has announced once-in-a-generation changes to the Pacific wild salmon management, which will significantly reduce the commercial salmon fishery and offer licence buybacks.

Announced on June 29, the initial step being taken, which is part of longer-term reductions in fishing pressure on stocks of conservation concern, includes commercial salmon closures for the 2021 season. These closures, which will affect 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 be implemented with the goal to protect the most fragile stocks of concern across the pacific region.

“What cannot be debated is that most wild Pacific salmon stocks continue to decline at unprecedented rates – we are pulling the emergency brake to give these salmon populations the best chance at survival,” Jordan explains. “The decisions to implement new, long-term closures and permanently remove effort from the commercial salmon fishery were not easy, as they impact people, communities, and livelihoods. But with fewer and fewer returning every year – disappearing before our eyes – we have to act now. We will continue working closely with industry, Indigenous communities, and partners as we move forward with these initiatives and do everything in our collective power to save pacific salmon and ensure a sustainable future. Together, we will turn the corner.”

Will this be enough?


While this new management will address and try to reduce the impact of commercial fisheries, there are concerns that not enough is being done to manage recreational fishing, and other factors including climate change and habitat degradation, which also impact these at-risk fish populations.

“The federal government has already significantly reduced the commercial fishing catch while increasing monitoring and science to protect at-risk salmon,” says Jeffery Young, senior science and policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation. “Today’s announcement is an acknowledgment that salmon stocks simply can’t support the industry that was built around it. However, I am particularly concerned that the federal government has not addressed ongoing recreational fisheries, which have a significant impact on salmon returns. Government left out the fishery that actually has weaker regulations and monitoring than commercial operations.

“If Canada is serious about protecting wild Pacific salmon, the federal and provincial governments will need to stop their approval of a wide range of harmful practices, including devastating salvage logging, increasing water withdrawals, inappropriate salmon hatcheries, open net-pen fish farms and rampant urban development,” says Young.

“Coastal communities were built on salmon,” Young continues. “This is a sad day. That’s why we support the decision to give financial help to industry members. Unfortunately, it shows what can happen when a broad range of policies put nature under stress from every angle. It creates a cascade of social and environmental fallout. These hot days are a stark reminder that the climate crisis is here, with our bad land-use habits needing to change more than ever.”

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