Think Steelhead (or Fisheries) this Election
We are all aware that steelhead in British Columbia are facing serious threats. The upcoming BC election provides us with a great opportunity to have our concerns heard. The Steelhead Society of British Columbia (SSBC) urges that all Society members and others who care about steelhead to take this opportunity to ask political party leaders and the candidates in their ridings some pointed questions. Then consider voting for those that give the answers that best support our steelhead.
Here are some of the key questions:
Why is there no Provincial Ministry dedicated to Fisheries?
Freshwater sportfishing in British Columbia contributes $957M to the economy of which steelhead account for approximately $239.25M. Yet both the money and the steelhead are lost in the provincial Ministry of Forest Lands, Natural Resource Operations... “Fisheries” is absent in the name of this ministry and seemingly in its mandate as well.
When will our BC Conservation Service be properly funded to protect our fish?
The underfunding of fisheries management in BC is a reflection of this lack of representation in government. Running into a conservation officer is virtually a thing of the past. The current regulations we have are not being monitored or enforced, let alone trying to decide on additional needed ones. This chronic lack of funding precludes any research. How can rational management occur without sufficient data or knowledge? Money needs to be dedicated to this valuable resource.
How is the provincial government going to support recovery of Interior steelhead populations?
The flagship of BC fish is the magnificent Thompson River steelhead. Anglers come from around the world to test themselves against these fish, the ultimate of their species. However, this world-famous icon is in major trouble, as the 2016-17 season produced approximately 350 spawners on the Thompson and 140 on the Chilcotin.
How is the provincial government supporting sustainable fisheries in BC with limited steelhead interception?
While there are many threats to steelhead, the clear and present danger is net interception; (both commercial and First Nation) in the Fraser and Skeena and in the saltwater approaches including the Dean Channel. Incidental by-catch of steelhead seems to increase each year. DFO's refusal to take steelhead into consideration when planning commercial net fisheries is a stake in the heart for these magnificent fish.
A strong provincial voice and presence is absolutely required to make DFO take note and effect change. Speak up, let your voice be heard and your voice counted.