$105 million for Restoration and Innovation

Statement of PSF President and CEO Dr. Brian Riddell

Regarding Fall Economic Update, New Wild Salmon Investments

Wild salmon and those of us who care deeply about them got some great news in federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s Fall Economic Update. We were delighted to hear Minister Morneau announce major new investments to sustain Canada’s fish stocks. The creation of a British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund – an investment of $105 million over six years – will include a $5 million contribution to the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund (PSEF) in 2018-19. PSEF plays a vital role by investing in the on-going work of the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) and our hundreds of non-profit partners that work in communities across British Columbia to conserve wild salmon. We were also delighted to learn that significant new investments will be made in stock assessment as part of the new fisheries act. PSF has highlighted for many years the need for improved collection and analysis and sharing of data on salmon stocks – particularly critical are Chinook, coho, sockeye and steelhead stocks that have been in serious decline for many years. PSF and our partners, including DFO, have focused significant resources on improving science and data collection in recent years and it is extremely heartening to see new dollars announced on this front. On behalf of PSF, I commend Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government for investments during the last three years that benefit Pacific salmon through renewed support for Fisheries and Oceans Canada but especially for those that help enable the success of non-profits like the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund and Pacific Salmon Foundation. Minister Morneau rightly noted, “that the best solutions for Canada’s big challenges come from Canadians themselves.” On behalf of the thousands of volunteers and donors to PSF and in the broader “Salmon Community,” we agree and say thank you!

Sustaining Canada’s Wild Fish Stocks – Fall Economic Update 2018

From coast to coast to coast, Canada is privileged to enjoy an abundance of rich natural resources. With this privilege comes the responsibility to ensure that these resources are managed sustainably and protected wisely, to ensure that Canadians can continue to benefit from them for years to come.

In 2012, the final report of the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River was released, including broad recommendations on how to address factors leading to the decline of that species. The Government has now taken action to address all of the report’s recommendations, which represents a significant step toward protecting Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Government efforts to sustain Canada’s oceans and wild fish stocks have been reinforced through significant investments, including:

  • $197.1 million over five years of incremental funding for ocean and freshwater science.
  • $1.5 billion over five years to launch an ambitious and wide-ranging Oceans Protection Plan.
  • $284.2 million over five years to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards into the Fisheries Act, which would support new legislative and regulatory tools.
  • $164.7 million over five years to protect, preserve and recover endangered whales, which includes research on salmon populations.
  • $61.5 million over five years to implement a suite of measures to protect and recover the Southern Resident Killer Whale, including funding that will support the conservation of wild pacific salmon.

The Government remains committed to the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon and recognizes that this commitment requires ongoing and incremental action in order to succeed. To support stock assessment and rebuilding efforts for priority Pacific salmon stocks, as well as other priority fish stocks across Canada, the Government proposes to invest $107.4 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, and $17.6 million per year ongoing, to support the implementation of stock assessment and rebuilding provisions in a renewed Fisheries Act.

Recognizing the importance of fisheries as a source of good, middle class jobs in coastal communities, as well as their importance to Canada’s economy as a whole, the Government is expanding on the success of the Atlantic Fisheries Fund, and proposes to invest $105 million over six years, starting in 2018–19, to create a British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, which includes a contribution to the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund of $5 million in 2018–19, as well as $30 million over five years, starting in 2019–20 for a Quebec Fisheries Fund. The B.C. and Quebec funds will support projects focused on innovation, clean technology adoption, infrastructure investments that improve productivity, sustainability and safety, and science partnerships.

Bureaucrats express concern about BC salmon stock tracking

Original story in the Globe and Mail, October 14

Available online here.

Rick Collins/The Globe and Mail

Senior public servants in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are worried the department has lost the ability to keep track of salmon species other than sockeye – including the Chinook critical to the survival of the endangered southern resident killer whale.

In the July letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail, area directors in B.C. expressed “collective concerns with the continued under-resourcing of salmon stock assessment programs.”

Area directors wrote that they appreciate that under-resourcing is not simply because of reduced science funding in recent years, but the result of “eroded regional funding” from various sources over the past 15 years.

“The regional ability to meet well-established core salmon assessment programs is no longer possible with allocated funding,” said the letter. Recently, there have been concerns about dismal returns for Chinook salmon on the Fraser River, raising new concerns for the endangered southern resident killer whales that rely on these fish for their survival.

The perilous state of the whales was also a significant factor in the decision by the Federal Court of Appeal on Aug. 30 to halt the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Carmel Lowe, the regional science director for the department, was the recipient of the letter. She said since the letter was written, the department has committed to spending an extra $4-million on its monitoring responsibilities. That would bring its budget this year up to approximately $11.2-million for salmon stock assessment, about $1-million more than in each of the past four years.

“We have secured or anticipate having secured the funding required to allow all of the priority assessment programs to be undertaken,” Ms. Lowe said.

In an e-mail exchange subsequent to the interview, Ms. Lowe said internal and external sources of funds for salmon stock assessment have varied over the years, with declines in, for example, Pacific Salmon Treaty implementation funds, but increases in other sources of funding such as for implementing the recommendations of the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.

Still, the letter makes plain that the authors are concerned about dwindling resources over more than a dozen years, combined with increasing responsibilities.

Ms. Lowe said the department lacks the resources to “go out and assess every fish,” but, rather prioritizes. That means a focus on Fraser River sockeye, given Indigenous interest in the fish and their higher market value, and Chinook given the dependence of killer whales on them.

In May, the federal government announced a reduction of roughly one third in the harvest of Chinook and closured fishing in some key whale foraging areas after declaring that the southern resident killer whales face an imminent threat to their survival. The federal government has acknowledged that lack of prey is one of the critical factors affecting the whales’ recovery.

A spokesman for the First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C., which works with and on behalf of B.C. First Nations to protect First Nations fisheries rights and title, said he was not surprised by the area directors’ letter.

“I think it’s something that those who work with fisheries here in B.C. [have] all expected and known,” council operations manager Janson Wong said in an interview.

The result, he said, is that DFO is often “guessing” about what returns and spawning might be.

“A lack of data means a lack of good management,” Mr. Wong said.