VICTORIA, B.C. — MLA Adam Olsen, the B.C. Green spokesperson for wild salmon, joined Premier John Horgan and federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson in welcoming major new funding for salmon projects.
The provincial and federal governments today announced that $142 million is being provided for salmon. The money will come in roughly $28 million installments over each of the next five years. B.C. will put in $42.85 million and Ottawa has committed to fund $100 million.
“It is great to see some substantial new money coming forward after so many years of underfunding from the provincial and federal governments,” said Olsen, who is a member of the provincial government’s Wild Salmon Advisory Council and was instrumental in its formation.
Wild salmon have been a central feature of Olsen’s policy work since being elected in 2017. He advocated for significant wild salmon funding when the B.C. Green caucus made budget submissions last year, but the government’s 2019 budget fell short.
“Knowing there was still money left to be allocated before the fiscal year ended, I spent every day repeating the same message in meetings and on Twitter,” said Olsen. “I said: we need to protect intact wild salmon habitat; we need to restore wild salmon habitat that has already been damaged; and we need to coordinate responsibility for wild salmon within the B.C. government.”
The province currently has six ministries taking a “lead” role on fish, which Olsen says has created a confused structure that will ultimately fail to deliver progress for wild salmon.
“Whether you are in a family that has lived for generations in B.C., or you have just arrived on the West Coast, you likely have salmon close to your heart,” said Olsen. “But with every passing day, and each new generation, the importance of wild salmon has been quietly diminishing. Our shifting baseline of what is normal for wild salmon has been changing. We have seen our expectations slip from millions of wild salmon in rivers, to thousands, thousands to hundreds, hundreds to mere dozens. Salmon runs have been in decline far too long. It’s time to bring them back.”
In May 2018, Olsen published his Standing Up for Wild Salmon report, which led to the creation of a provincial Wild Salmon Secretariat and the Wild Salmon Advisory Council. Olsen and his Wild Salmon Advisory Council colleagues released their final recommendations to government for a Made-in-BC Salmon Strategy in February 2019.
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