Jan 31/08: David Suzuki Foundation: Pacific Salmon Stocks are Declining, at Critical Point ...
Urgent action is needed to save wild Pacific salmon and to protect
the freshwater and coastal ecosystems where they live and spawn,
according to a new report from the David Suzuki Foundation.
In An Upstream Battle: Declines in 10 Pacific Salmon Stocks and
Solutions for Their Survival, the Foundation explores the factors
contributing to the loss of Pacific salmon, as well as solutions to
Salmon experts examined escapement, catch, and harvest-rate data going
back to at least 1980 for four stocks of sockeye, three of coho, and
one each of chum, chinook, and steelhead on the mainland and Vancouver
Island. These stocks have declined from 70 per cent to 93 per cent
since the early 1990s and demonstrate that declines have occurred
across the range of Pacific salmon in Canada. Many other stocks have
faced similar declines and much of the diversity of Pacific salmon has
already been lost.
“This report shows that we’ve reached a critical point,” said Jeffery
Young, an aquatic biologist with the David Suzuki Foundation. “These
10 stocks are examples of the challenges facing all wild Pacific
salmon. It’s clear that urgent action and comprehensive fisheries and
habitat-management changes are absolutely necessary.”
The initiatives needed include:
* increased enforcement of habitat regulations;
* more selective fishing;
* precautionary fisheries/habitat management;
* legislated protection for endangered stocks;
* full implementation of the federal wild salmon policy.
Mr. Young noted that salmon are key to the both a healthy environment
and a healthy B.C. economy.
“Salmon spend part of their lives in freshwater and part in the ocean,
so they are an excellent barometer for the overall health of the
environment,” he said. “They’re also an important food source and
support thousands of jobs.”
Salmon fishing employs about 25,000 people in B.C. and contributes
more than $500 million a year to the B.C. economy. Wild salmon also
provide food for a variety of animals, such as whales, eagles, and
bears, and supply ocean nutrients to inland forests.
“We have to address all the threats to salmon survival, including
fishing, habitat loss, and global warming,” Mr. Young said.
The federal government must do more to enforce existing
habitat-protection laws and monitor salmon diversity, and the B.C.
government must work with the federal government to better manage
resource extraction, development, fish farms, pollution, and water
use, the Foundation said. Citizens can also play a role by making
sustainable choices when buying seafood and asking government to
implement the report’s recommendations.