Citizen science on a small Vancouver island Coho stream. (Public Fishery Alliance)

Citizen science on a small Vancouver island Coho stream. (Public Fishery Alliance)

LETTER: Public Fishery Alliance clarifies stance on ways to restore B.C.’s salmon population

‘Fishing is enjoyable, but that’s not why the public fishery supports adipose fin clipping all chinook production’

Re: Scientists worry BC hatchery fish threatening endangered wild chinook – Jan. 2, 2021

The Public Fishery Alliance represents a broad base of recreational salmon fishing interests including anglers, guides, tackle shops, members of national and international fisheries commissions and advisory groups, retired Department of Fisheries staff and restoration and enhancement volunteers. The PFA advocates for public access to the salmon resource and sensible science-based solutions to restore BC’s salmon and the fisheries that depend on them.

There are a number of areas of where the PFA is in agreement with the article:

  • Key chinook stocks are in critical condition.
  • Habitat issues are impeding chinook recovery.
  • Community based hatcheries are part of the solution.
  • Chinook have high cultural and economic values.
  • Chinook are facing increased threats (Climate change, seal & sea lion predation & salmon farming).
  • Recovery requires a balanced long-term solution that protects wild stock genetic integrity, and sustains fisheries to the extent possible.

However, there are areas in the article that concern the PFA.

The article makes references to what the public fishery wants. For example: “sport fishing groups are pushing for tagging of all hatchery chinook so they can more easily target the fish and potentially enjoy more openings.”

Fishing is enjoyable, but that’s not why the public fishery supports adipose fin clipping all chinook production. It is for conservation reasons. A clipped adipose fin allows anglers to identify hatchery from wild chinook so that wild salmon can be released to spawn.

Angler organizations are not asking for more production from hatcheries except where required to meet crisis situations (Upper Fraser River chinook). They are asking for strategic production that benefits wild salmon while preserving angler participation and public fishing jobs through this difficult chinook recovery period.

Anglers lead conservation efforts by volunteering to restore salmon, funding salmon restoration, supporting Salmon in the Classroom programs, providing data (Avid Anglers), developing selective fishing technology and science based fishing plans with DFO, participating in Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) research, rearing Chinook for SRKW food requirements (Sooke Chinook Initiative, Orca Food Security Program, and supporting Chilliwack Hatchery production increases for the same reason).

The article implies a causal relationship between hatcheries and poor performing salmon stocks. The PFA does not share this view. A review of the DFO 2021 Preliminary Salmon Outlook suggests that those conservation units that have benefited from a combination of enhancement and stream restoration have performed better than those which have not. Upper Fraser River Chinook are a stark example where hatcheries were closed or proposed ones cancelled.

PFA does not share the opinion that large facilities should be eliminated, as hatchery opponents are advocating. Their protocols should be targeted for strategic production based on mimicking natural rearing. The US has adopted this to protect against habitat loss and climate change.

Dr. Carl Walters, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Oceans and Fisheries, UBC shared the following thoughts on the topic of salmon recovery. “I remember those days during the 1980’s when biologists including me were blaming overfishing and promoting more restrictive regulations. While we were doing that the coded wire tag data were already showing severe decreases in first year ocean survival rates; we ignored those changes and that was really stupid. We then turned to blaming survival declines on hatchery production and competition between wild and hatchery fish, which didn’t work out either – hatchery production peaked in 1986 and survival rates kept decreasing”.

– Tom Davis, Jason Assonitis, Adrian O’Brien with the Public Fishery Alliance

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Community mental health workers are in high demand, and a new program at Selkirk College will provide opportunities in this field. File Photo
Selkirk College to train community mental health workers

Twelve students will complete two courses enabling them to work in health and human services

Dr. Cori Lausen, bat specialist, has questions about logging in an unusual bat habitat near Beasley. Photo: Submitted
Kaslo biologist questions logging at unique West Kootenay bat site

Dr. Cori Lausen, a bat specialist, studies a population of bats above Beasley

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read