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e-2725 (Fisheries)

E-petition
Initiated by William Braidwood from Surrey, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Whereas:
  • The public fishery in British Columbia depends on predictable access to marine and aquatic resources;
  • The public fishery in British Columbia is a source of benefits, including food security, cultural traditions, recreation, mental health, employment and economic opportunity for hundreds of thousands of British Columbians;
  • The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard and the Government of Canada have chosen to ignore viable and sustainable proposals from British Columbians for managing fisheries that may encounter Fraser River Chinook;
  • The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard and the Government of Canada have failed to implement a coordinated, properly funded, comprehensive, ecosystem-based recovery plan and strategy to rebuild stocks and habitat for Fraser River Chinook; and
  • The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard and the Government of Canada have failed to acknowledge the presence of other abundant Chinook stocks.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to amend the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ 2020 Fraser River Chinook salmon management measures to acknowledge the existence of abundant Chinook stocks elsewhere on the coast and allow avoidance zones and mark selective fisheries that have been proposed for times and places where endangered Fraser River Chinook are absent or unlikely to be present, and provide details to Canadians for the immediate development of a comprehensive recovery strategy and plan for Fraser River stocks of concern to be implemented as soon as possible.

Response by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Bernadette Jordan

A broad pattern of decline has affected many Chinook populations in southern British Columbia (BC). Many southern BC Chinook populations, particularly in the Fraser River face a number of challenges, including declining numbers returning to spawn, reduced survival and productivity, habitat pressures and a changing climate. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has been increasing measures to conserve southern BC Chinook stocks for many years, with harvest restrictions increasing over time.

In November 2018, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed seven Fraser Chinook populations as endangered, four as threatened and one as special concern. We urgently need to address these declines, as well as the changes to marine life and ecosystems that are directly affecting salmon and our coastal communities.

In 2019 and 2020 DFO implemented significant new management measures designed to support the recovery of at-risk Fraser River Chinook populations, provide access for culturally important First Nations fisheries consistent with allocation priorities, and provide access for commercial and recreational fisheries to harvest healthy Chinook populations in times and areas where stocks of concern can be avoided. These measures were developed following consultation with Indigenous communities, recreational and commercial fishing organizations, and environmental organizations.

DFO recognizes the challenges faced by all who depend on Pacific salmon for their sustenance, livelihood and recreation. While conservation is the highest priority in management of these populations, the Department is continuing to consider pilot recreational fishery opportunities to selectively target hatchery origin Chinook (i.e. using mark selective fisheries) or other healthy Chinook stocks in areas where at-risk Fraser Chinook can be avoided and where other conservation issues are not expected. In 2020, a limited number of these proposals were approved as pilots subject to requirements for catch monitoring/sampling to address effects of regulations and consultation with First Nations. DFO is currently compiling information to support a post-season review of all salmon fisheries and work is in progress to consider potential additional marked selective fishery opportunities in Spring 2021.

It is important that we make decisions that will ultimately lead to strengthened salmon populations, so that we have healthy and abundant salmon runs in the future that will support Indigenous, commercial and recreational fisheries. Fishery management measures are only one component of a larger strategy intended to place at-risk Pacific salmon populations on a path towards sustainability. One element of this work is to evaluate the utility of mass marking (adipose fin clipping) of Canadian hatchery Chinook production and mark selective fisheries as conservation tools to enable harvest opportunities for identifiable marked hatchery fish while minimizing fishing mortality on wild stocks and maintaining reliable stock assessment information. Though mark selective fisheries are meant to allow harvest of relatively abundance hatchery fish, all selective fisheries have an associated mortality on unmarked (wild) fish and in cases where a mark selective fishery is not properly designed, implemented and monitored, this mortality can exceed that of a non-selective fishery. The Department is also conducting a pilot project to mass mark (adipose fin clip) Conuma Hatchery Chinook in conjunction with genetic-based tagging to establish whether genetic techniques, combined with enhanced catch monitoring, will provide the assessment information currently derived from the coded wire tag indicator stock program and determine whether this approach mitigates the impacts of mark selective fisheries.

In addition, the Government of Canada is  devoting significant resources to broadly support recovery of Pacific salmon, including Chinook, through a variety of initiatives to address threats facing Chinook populations, including:

  • Habitat protection: Bringing in a new Fisheries Act to restore protections for fish habitat, and working closely with the BC government on land and water use policies that can impact critical habitat.
  • Habitat restoration: In partnership with the Province of BC, DFO created a BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, contributing more than $142 million over five years, enabling salmon and habitat restoration projects in communities across the province.
  • Climate adaptation: DFO is researching how warming waters affect salmon through all life stages, and the implications for ecosystems and released our first State of Pacific Salmon report in 2019.
  • Improved stock assessment: In the 2018 Economic Statement DFO committed an additional $107 million to support the implementation of the Fish Stocks provisions of the renewed Fisheries Act. These resources will help improve Pacific salmon stock assessments and contribute to a better managed fishery.
  • Enhanced science and collaboration: To gain a better understanding of what is happening in the North Pacific and how salmon returns are being affected, DFO recently co-sponsored a second research expedition to the North Pacific with scientists drawn from five countries (Russia, United States, Japan, South Korea and Canada).
  • Big Bar landslide:  an investment of $176 million to install a permanent fishway through the site of the Big Bar landslide on the Fraser River

The Department is developing science advice on threats and limiting factors for at-risk Chinook populations and this information and science advice will inform the development of rebuilding plans for Chinook stocks of concern. The Department has also engaged with First Nations, the Province of BC, and stakeholders to support planning the development of these plans.

Open for signature
July 7, 2020, at 3:04 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
November 4, 2020, at 3:04 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Mel Arnold (North Okanagan—Shuswap)
December 4, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00366)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Mel Arnold
North Okanagan—Shuswap
Conservative Caucus
British Columbia
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