Chinook fisheries close as governments perpetuate policies at heart of crisis

April 23, 2019

VICTORIA, B.C. — The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced new fisheries closure measures for chinook Tuesday in an effort to save the at-risk salmon from disappearing from Canadian waters.

The B.C. Green Caucus supports conservation closures, but calls on both governments to also reconcile their ongoing contributions to climate change and ecosystem destruction that have led to the decline of wild salmon. Government must go beyond partial measures to address the more systemic problems limiting salmon productivity so that theses sacrifices from British Columbians and local communities are not in vain.

"If governments are going to ask fishing communities and First Nations to sacrifice everything to save salmon, then government needs to do the same,” said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “B.C.’s wild salmon stocks are crashing because of government policies, and now Ottawa is making British Columbians pay for decades of mismanagement.”

The threats facing B.C.’s wild salmon are many: climate change, habitat destruction, water contamination, fish farm pollution and chronic overfishing.

“Ocean acidification, extreme weather, floods, mega-wildfires, drought and increased water temperatures are all impacts related to climate change. All hurt salmon, and all are exacerbated by current government policies that protect and promote fossil fuel development,” said Olsen.

Last year, the federal government spent $4.5 billion to buy Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline increasing oil tanker traffic off B.C.’s coast and putting the entire ecosystem at risk of a catastrophic diluted bitumen spill. Last week, the B.C. NDP and B.C. Liberals voted unanimously to give LNG Canada a suite of tax breaks and subsidies worth $6 billion, in addition to another billion dollars of tariff support provided by the federal government, enabling a project that has been labelled a “carbon bomb” because of its massive pollution rate.

“B.C. and Ottawa need to start taking serious steps to address climate change, they need to stop clear cutting watersheds, and they need to start investing significant resources in habitat restoration and protection,” said MLA Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green caucus. “We need to spend more on salmon, less on oil and gas industry subsidies. Buying pipelines, expanding the tar sands, increasing fracking, subsidizing LNG — and shutting down salmon fisheries — is not the way to a livable future.”

"Our ecosystems are being pushed to the brink of collapse. Short term, reactive decisions from Ottawa are not good enough,” said MLA Olsen. “Given the massive challenges we face, we need to look at the big picture. This is about building a sustainable economy and safer future for the province as climate change advances."

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