Warning that some Pacific salmon runs are “on the verge of collapse,” the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has announced major long-term commercial fisheries closures across B.C.
“The decades-long declines are due to a complex combination of climate change, habitat degradation, and harvesting impacts, and bold action is needed now to stabilize and rebuild the stocks before it is too late,” reads a release from the department.
About 60 percent of commercial salmon fisheries in B.C. will be closed this year under the most recent Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan. Click here for more specific information about fisheries affected in the Skeena and other parts of the province.
Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan “also announced there will be a federal fishing licence buyback offered to commercial fishers who are ready to call it quits,” Business In Vancouver reports.
The closures were deemed “dramatic” by Greg Taylor, senior fisheries advisor for Watershed Watch Salmon Society and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust. “They’re basically shutting down the commercial fishery–Fraser River sockeye, all the fisheries–they are indeed shutting down,” Taylor said.
There is a broad scientific consensus that salmon is facing potentially existential threats. The north Pacific salmon catch in 2020 was lower than at any point in the past 40 years, according to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission.
“What cannot be debated is that most wild Pacific salmon stocks continue to decline at unprecedented rates,” Jordan said in the press release. “We have to act now.”
“For First Nations communal-commercial harvesters, the Department will meaningfully consult on options to shift to more selective fishing gear or, where available, to licences for other non-salmon species,” the release explains.