Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Report lays out plan to save wild salmon

In order to save wild salmon, the provincial government should manage watersheds through a single water and land agency.

That was the top priority in the Pacific Salmon Forum's final report and recommendations to the premier, the details of which were released this morning in Vancouver.

A land and water agency would allow the province to take an ecosystem-based approach to resource management, explained forum chair John Fraser.

He said the incremental loss of wetland and river habitat in the Fraser Valley is a "classic example" of what's happening all over the province.

"Nobody is in charge of the whole thing," said Fraser, noting that conservation areas designated in the Forests and Ranges Act don't apply to hydro development.

Fraser said the cumulative effects of all resource development – logging, mining, roads, transmission lines, hydro development – must be considered before any project proceeds in a given watershed.

"The first recommendation is to establish a set of ecosystem indicators that will tell us what watersheds can or cannot support. If that ecosystem cannot handle the development you're talking about, you don't do it."

"It's very far-reaching and some people aren't going to like it," he added.

Including some in the energy sector. Last week at an industry conference, SyncWave Systems Inc. president Nigel Protter told delegates "you can't succeed" with ecosystem-based management and said he was in favour of sustainable development with "trade-offs" instead.

Fraser did not mince his words, delivering the recommendations with a stern warning:

"If we don't make significant changes in watershed management the long-term prognosis is grim. The province cannot afford to not make the changes we propose."

Other recommendations were:

- the immediate creation of an independent oversight authority to audit the provincial regulatory process and report to the public.

- a limit on salmon farm production in the Broughton Archipelago of 18,500 tonnes per year for at least the next five years.

- require all resource industries, including salmon farms, to share site-specific information with the public.

- design and implement a commercial-scale trial of closed containment system for raising farmed salmon.

Catherine Steward, salmon farming campaign manager with the Living Oceans Society, said she was encouraged by some of the recommendations, particularly the call for greater transparency in the salmon farming industry.

"Access to information has been a huge challenge," she said.

"And finally, recognition by a provincially-appointed body that there are problems with open-net cages...that's a big step forward."

Premier Campbell created the Pacific Salmon Forum in 2004 with the mandate of providing direction to achieve the province's goal of sustainable wild and farmed salmon sectors.

Colleen Kimmett is a regular contributor to the Hook.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus