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Poll Shows Wild Salmon Are Culturally Important In BC

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA - Wild salmon are as culturally important to the people of British Columbia as the French language is to the people of Quebec, according to a recent survey.

An overwhelming majority of British Columbians say small salmon runs should not be traded off to favour the commercial fishing industry and economic development should not come at the expense of salmon habitat, according to SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.

Dr Craig Orr, Executive Director of Watershed Watch, said: "This poll clearly shows that Ottawa and the big fishing companies are totally out of step with British Columbian values. British Columbians are clearly against putting commercial interests before local salmon runs, and we want laws to protect salmon habitat more strictly enforced."

The poll results are important because Ottawa is under pressure from industry leaders to 'trade off' small runs to allow mixed-stock commercial fisheries that threaten small runs with extinction.

Greg Knox, Executive Director of SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, added: "The results clearly demonstrate how culturally important salmon are on Canada's west coast. People care so much about wild salmon in this province that half of us would pay higher taxes to protect their habitat."

When asked whether wild salmon are as culturally important to British Columbians as the French language is to Quebeckers, 70 per cent of respondents agreed.

"This isn't a wake-up call for British Columbians. It is a wake-up call for politicians from all the political parties," said Vicky Husband, senior advisor to Watershed Watch.

The province-wide poll, commissioned by the Watershed Watch Salmon Society and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, was conducted last month by Angus Reid Public Opinion. From a sample size of more than 800 respondents, the results are considered accurate within 3.5 percentage points.

Survey results show a high level of environmental concern for a variety of issues, including '"depletion of fish stocks' at 66 per cent and 'pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs' at 72 per cent (highest concern).

On the subject of salmon habitat protection, 86 per cent of British Columbians agreed with the statement 'Economic growth and development should not come at the expense of wild salmon habitat'; 52 per cent said they 'would pay higher taxes if that was what was necessary to protect wild salmon habitat'; and 89 per cent said 'laws meant to protect salmon habitat should be more strictly enforced'.

F0r more information on the poll, click here.

the Fish Site Editor

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