B.C. Wild Salmon Day 2021: The fight to save a species essential to our province

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      B.C. Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries Minister Lana Popham and parliamentary secretary for fisheries and aquaculture Fin Donnelly released this statement for B.C. Wild Salmon Day (June 1):

      "Wild Pacific salmon are an iconic species that mean many different things to British Columbians. They are culturally significant to B.C.'s Indigenous communities, contribute to our province's food security, and are the economic backbone of many coastal communities, providing good jobs throughout B.C.

      But over the past several years, we have seen wild salmon increasingly threatened. Climate change is dramatically affecting B.C.'s watersheds and the ocean. Compounding the problem is an increase in pollution and loss of habitat.

      This is why the B.C. government and British Columbians all over the province must continue to fight for a species so important to our environment, history, economy, identity, and way of life.

      As we recognize B.C. Wild Salmon Day, we take great pride in celebrating how many people in our province are committed to helping protect and revitalize B.C.'s wild salmon populations. There are British Columbians who dedicate their careers to wild salmon, volunteer their time and effort to help restore habitat in watersheds in their communities or share information and engage others in the value of healthy rivers, lakes, and streams. We want to both recognize and thank each one of them for making a difference.

      Salmon swimming during spawning season near Chilliwack.
      edb3_16/Getty Images

      Helping B.C. salmon recover will continue to take commitment, and the Province is supporting those efforts through the $143-million British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund. To date, the federal and provincial government fund has supported 42 projects with over $71 million. More projects are on the way. Great progress is being made in rivers and watersheds all over our province. We are also working with the Government of Canada to double this fund, so even more of that needed and valuable work can take place.

      The projects are diverse in location, scale and proponent, but all contribute to protecting and restoring wild salmon and B.C.'s fishery, contributing to a more sustainable future for coastal communities and local workers.

      We want to support more of these projects, like the one being led by the Squamish River Watershed Society in collaboration with Squamish Nation, which has begun work to restore fish passage and increase chinook productivity in the lower Elaho River. By reducing obstructions, more than 40 kilometres of fish habitat will be unlocked, improving the natural productivity of chinook, coho, pink salmon and steelhead.

      On Vancouver Island, the Peninsula Streams Society has received funding to remove an existing obstruction in Millstream Creek and to install a fish ladder and a fish-friendly culvert. When the project is complete, trout and coho will have a 40 percent increase in habitat. The new fishway will also provide educational opportunities for locals and Mill Hill Regional Park visitors.

      Meanwhile, near Chase, the Adams Lake Indian Band is restoring the Upper Adams early summer sockeye run to a sustainable level, improving opportunities for sustainable use. In the Okanagan, the Osoyoos Indian Band has received funding to help with post-mudslide restoration and monitoring of Inkaneep Creek and its flood plain to improve the survivability rate of Okanagan steelhead, rainbow trout, and chinook salmon.

      These projects demonstrate the value of the many partnerships that are in place in B.C. that play a key role in increasing the chances of salmon survival. The Pacific Salmon Foundation is also playing an integral role in helping grassroots organizations and their communities through a $5-million provincial grant to help with salmon restoration, conservation and enhancement projects.

      We are committed to working with Indigenous communities, conservation organizations and B.C.'s fishing community to support the conservation of wild salmon in the province and to continue to build a wild salmon recovery strategy we can all be proud of. This collaboration is what we need to get the job done with all of us working together so salmon will continue to swim in our waters for generations to come.

      Happy B.C. Wild Salmon Day!"

      A salmon run in Goldstream Provincial Park.
      Spacewalk/Getty Images

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