Aquaculture for all

Sockeye Collapse: BC Indian Chiefs Accuse DFO

Salmonids Sustainability +2 more

CANADA - An Aborigine chief and Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs has stated his horror at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans ignorance to the full range of problems affecting salmon runs in British Columbia.

Chief Bob Chamberlin of Kwicksutaineuk/Ak-Kwa-Mish Tribes stated: "The UBCIC is appalled that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is not seeking to fully understand all of the potential contributors, specifically fish farms, to the unprecedented collapse of not only Fraser River Sockeye but the many runs of wild salmon in southern British Columbia.

"What is immediately required is a coordinated and educated management of the fisheries from the spawning beds to international waters to the return of the salmon. We need to make the conservation of wild salmon the top priority of DFO. Instead of providing leadership during this crisis, DFO Minister Gail Shea is currently promoting Canadian fish farms in Norway."

Within two days of reporting that 11 million Fraser sockeye had vanished without a trace, the DFO Area Director for Fraser Region, Bary Rosenburger and the Pacific Region Director, Paul Sprout stated publicly that fish farms are not a factor.

Fish farms are associated with wild salmon collapse worldwide and in BC, says Chief Bob Chamberlin. When the Broughton pink salmon collapsed in 2002 their migration route was cleared of farm fish for one season and their survival was the highest ever recorded (Beamish et al 2006). Scientists report DFO politics interfered with the science that might have prevented Canada's Atlantic cod collapse. (Hutchings et al 1997).

This collapse precisely hit salmon smolts that migrated north from the Fraser River and Alexandra Morton examined them as they passed the Campbell River fish farms. "I cannot tell you that fish farms killed all 11 million missing Fraser sockeye, but the ones I examined were infected with sea lice, in poor condition and unlikely to survive. We will continue to lose salmon run after salmon run unless we exhaustively explore all potential contributors for answers," states Morton.

The Pacific Salmon Commission has revised and lowered their projections for sockeye salmon returns of the Fraser River. The Commission had originally forecasted a return of 10.6 million sockeye but is now reporting that many of the runs are far less than anticipated.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC, concluded "The UBCIC has consistently opposed fish farms and will continue to do so until such time as the destructive and deadly impacts to wild salmon are fully addressed. We continue to call on DFO to act decisively to protect wild salmon. If not, it is time for a new Minister who genuinely cares and is completely committed to the future of wild salmon."

Further Reading

- View our recent report, The Mysterious Disappearance of Fraser River Sockeye, by clicking here.
Create an account now to keep reading

It'll only take a second and we'll take you right back to what you were reading. The best part? It's free.

Already have an account? Sign in here