Sockeye Season in Question
Prince George, B.C. – When it comes to the sockeye returns for this summer, “The numbers don’t look good” says Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.
There has been talk the sockeye fishery this summer may be closed and that could be devastating to communities along the Skeena River system. “Typically in the past when we’ve had to see closures go down, we have looked for compensation for the commercial fleet and how to get people into the region to look for different types of fish” says Cullen .
Thousands of people head to the region every summer to catch sockeye, and their impact has a positive effect on the economies of communities like Smithers, Terrace and Prince Rupert.
He says there are ways to enhance the fishery in “innovative ways ” but the Federal Government has made more cuts to fisheries, to hatcheries and programs that have had positive results. “It’s very very frustrating for me to see these (sockeye) low (return) numbers.”
Cullen says the fishery is under pressure from a number of issues, including climate change and foreign trawlers. “Our government seems to be ambivalent about those questions and doesn’t seem to have any deeper or lasting concern about the wild salmon fishery on the West Coast.”
He says the Federal New Democrats are putting a package together that addresses not just compensation, “But a way to stabilize the fishery in a more meaningful way.” That package says Cullen, would include protection of salmon spawning grounds, making sure the international fleet is not wiping out our fish as they (the fish) move through American and International waters, and suggestions on stock enhancement “We have seen through American and other practices, globally, there are safe environmental ways that enhance stocks that keep the genetic diversity and allow more fish into the system.”