August 22, 2019
Vancouver, BC – Healthy wild fish stocks are vital to the economic prosperity and social fabric of British Columbia’s coastal communities, and are fundamental to the culture of many Indigenous communities.
The focus on restoration is part of a broader approach to addressing declines in salmon stocks that include, restoring lost protections for fish and fish habitat in the modernized Fisheries Act, science based fisheries management measures, reviewing concerns regarding predation, and implementing a plan to fight climate change.
Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson announced five new Vancouver-based projects under the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF), amounting to an investment of almost $2.7M. These projects are led by:
- The University of British Columbia, which will lead a science partnership project to conduct research on improving the sustainability of capture and release marine recreational Pacific salmon fisheries using new tools and technology.
- The International Year of the Salmon partners, including the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization. They will conduct pan-Pacific vessel surveys in the winter and summer of 2021 to monitor distribution, abundance, and productivity of salmon to directly inform fisheries management decision and enforcement efforts. This project will provide insight into how climate variability influences the distribution, migration, growth, and fitness of Pacific salmon.
- The Canadian Groundfish Research and Conservation Society, in partnership with Vericatch Solutions Inc., which will develop an electronic application for fishing vessels that utilizes at-sea monitoring data from commercial groundfish vessels. These applications will work in real time to create heat maps showing where marine species of concern (such as chinook salmon) are being encountered to minimize bycatch.
- The Nature Trust of BC will undertake monitoring and research to assess estuary resilience to sea level rise and other climate impacts across the coast of BC. They will be using the Marsh Resiliency to Sea Level Rise (MARS) tool, followed by restoration projects to restore core natural estuarine processes. The Nature Trust of BC will partner with various local First Nations groups, environmental organizations and academic institutions.
- The Sport Fishing Institute (SFI) will further develop the Fishing BC mobile app, an online information and catch monitoring tool.
Projects funded under BCSRIF will advance work to restore and enhance salmon habitat to support British Columbia’s fish and seafood sector, and help secure the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon, as well as other wild fish stocks. Over the next five years, investments through the BCSRIF will help ensure British Columbia’s wild fisheries are environmentally and economically sustainable for the long-term, and that middle-class jobs in the fishery are resilient to the challenges of climate change, as well as evolving economic conditions.
BCSRIF funding is open to Indigenous communities, industry associations, environmental non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. Each application is reviewed and approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of British Columbia. Investments through this program will benefit commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture, as well as science and research initiatives.
Minister Wilkinson also took the opportunity to announce DFO’s first ever scientific report called the State of Pacific Salmon. This report, which was the product of DFO scientists, examines the impacts climate change is having on wild Pacific salmon. The report finds that the Northeast Pacific Ocean warming trends and marine heatwaves like “The Blob” are affecting ocean food webs. British Columbia and Yukon air and water temperatures are warming and precipitation patterns are changing which is altering freshwater habitats that the salmon migrate through. These marine and freshwater ecosystem changes are impacting Pacific salmon at every stage of their life-cycle. The report is now online and available to Canadians.