Federal fisheries gets a pat on the back

Action to safeguard Skeena River fish populations draws a good word

Dear Sir:

Local and provincial DFO managers deserve credit for doing a much better job of protecting Skeena salmon.

Since 2009 DFO cut the harvest of Skeena sockeye by approximately half of historic levels, consistent with the recommendations of the Skeena Independent Science Review Panel.

The rebuilding of several weak sockeye populations can, at least partially, be attributed to these decreases in harvest.

The Skeena has also seen stronger returns of some other species. Unfortunately, chum and several populations of sockeye remain severely depressed, and further management action is needed to ensure they are protected and rebuilt.

DFO is also making progress in setting minimum and target goals for individual populations, as required by Marine Stewardship Council certification and the Wild Salmon Policy.

Following through on this work and integrating this information into the management of local fisheries will be key to the long-term health of Skeena salmon.

Fortunately, DFO’s conservation actions are not only benefiting Skeena salmon, but are resulting in increased economic benefits to communities up river.

The Lake Babine Nation (LBN) recently revived their fishery, resulting in the second largest commercial sockeye fishery in Canada in 2011, and another similar sized fishery in 2012. These fish were harvested in front of the Babine spawning channels, where no weak populations were killed. LBN’s sockeye are being sold throughout North America, and served in the finest seafood restaurant in Vancouver.

Such positive results demonstrate the potential of using good science to make management decisions. Let’s give DFO some credit for doing so.

Greg Knox,

SkeenaWild Conservation Trust,

Terrace, BC