Press Release: Fisheries minister must stop new fishery that will harm endangered Chinook salmon and killer whales

New fishery targets Chinook within critical Southern Resident killer whale habitat

The MCC, along with First Nations from Vancouver Island, issued a press release on March 2 2023 calling on DFO to halt its proposed Mark Selective Fisheries.

The new Chinook salmon fishery that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has proposed opening in April will kill endangered Fraser River Chinook salmon as they migrate through the feeding grounds of the equally endangered southern resident killer whales, according to conservation groups and First Nations. 

The fishery — which would target hatchery salmon that have had their adipose fin clipped off for identification (“mark-selective”) — will increase noise and disturbance from angling boats where endangered killer whales feed. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ proposal reflects a serious disregard for the critical state of the whales and their endangered prey. 

“To ensure Fraser Chinook numbers have a chance of recovering, all of these fish must reach their spawning grounds during this migration period,” said Misty MacDuffee, Raincoast Conservation Foundation Wild Salmon Program Director. “The proposed fishery is for the sole benefit of recreational fishers, not for the benefit of either Chinook salmon or southern resident killer whales.”

There are concerns that charter sport fishing industry members pushed DFO to open this fishery on an expedited timeline without proper assessment, process, consultation and monitoring. There is high uncertainty about, or outright absence of, information used to open the fishery.

“First Nations throughout Vancouver Island have expressed their opposition to this fishery, which are proposed without proper data or evaluation frameworks for assessment and monitoring,” said Nick Chowdhury, president of the Island Marine Aquatic Working Group. “In addition to conservation and management concerns, consultation by Fisheries and Oceans with First Nations has not been adequate.”

The Government of Canada has deemed itself a global leader in conservation and has committed to halting and reversing biodiversity loss. This fishery contradicts that commitment.

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