It is time for drastic action on salmon stocks

Don Lambie says mismanagement and endless talk will end with extinction

Like many people, I have great concerns with the decline in our fish stocks and the role it has played in fishing opportunities declining as a whole.

I have strongly voiced my opinion to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)with added suggestions as to how we can make the changes needed in order to turn around the effects or the lack thereof, due to mismanagement, in regard to our fish crisis. Although the DFO made some slight movements this past summer, the nearly $40 million allocated is being severely mismanaged.

I guess you could say that that people like myself, that have been on the Skeena River for over 50 years, are extremely confused as to what this money is actually being used for, aside from litigation and perpetual talks over the same issues with very little movement past just that… talking.

Steelhead and salmon stocks are at an all-time low and increase of lost salmon habitats are being added to those lost decades ago. Salt water retention limits must be cut allowing more opportunities for local fishermen. Local fishermen, American and international sports fishermen flock to this area and drop millions of dollars into our local economy to fish for steelhead.

Because of the decline we are seeing with fish, the economical financial gains are following suit with a lot of our local businesses that rely upon this income to sustain their livelihood, are feeling the decline and pressures more now than ever before.

Local fish and wildlife organizations are well aware of the actions needed immediately to protect this very valuable resource. In June of every year the DFO has a net in the Skeena River, (Tyee Test Fishery) as well as inland commercial nets and the First Nations food fishing nets.

Pressure must applied to make sure that none of these nets are in the Skeena River at all in June. Nets from the inland fisheries shouldn’t be allowed whatsoever. Although I do respect the traditional reasonings for First Nations fish consumptions, it has come to a point where this too, should be monitored with regard to care and practices. It’s not a time for rights and who was here first.

What traditions should be upheld? Sadly, it’s come to the time where regardless of rights and residency, we need to be united as one with the sole purpose of restoring and upholding a declining species that we all rely on and many singled out by what ethnicity they are, also uphold family traditions with.

I do know a lot of First Nations are on board with taking care in this practice but we actually need to implement rules and regulations across the board in this respect.

As I’m sure you are all aware, in June the steelhead which have spawned in the spring take their journey returning to the ocean. They are referred to as kelts. They are being caught in these nets. Kelts must be allowed to make this journey. They are a crucial part in this mass depletion.

Making this journey without the danger of being killed by these nets should be made a priority. It is a fact that the DFO has killed over 15,000 steelhead at the Tyee Test Fishery over the last 20 years. This does not include the First Nations nets, commercial inland nets or the mortality from an over population of harbour seals feeding in the Skeena River.

Immediate action must be taken to protect the wild steelhead in the Skeena River drainage, allowing stocks to rebound and reattract the lost dollars to our local economy. There have been meetings with regard to all these concerns I am expressing in this letter. It’s enough now. Money being expended in more than talk or data analysis exchanged is all part of this process and I can respect that however, actual action of enforcements and regulations are past due and need to be immediately addressed.

If action isn’t taken with regard to what I have expressed here, we are looking at extinction. I am asking that every single person in a position of power act promptly with this. Use your power. Use your position and your reach. Make movement and demand action.

If action is not taken, I would encourage the Chamber of Commerce to file a class action lawsuit against the authorities responsible for controlling and delegating lack thereof and much needed regulations. The time for talk is over and we, the people who are affected by the decisions made are watching and feeling powerless.

Make motions. It is time.

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