Conservation of Wild Salmon is Paramount

For Immediate Release
August 18, 2009
Chief Bob Chamberlin of Kwicksutaineuk/Ak-Kwa-Mish Tribes and Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) 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 (Ford and Myers 2008) and in BC (Krkosek et al 2007). When the Broughton pink salmon collapsed in 2002 their migration route was cleared of farm fish for one season (http://www.fish.bc.ca/node/135) 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."

For further comment contact:
Chief Bob Chamberlin (604) 684-0231
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (604) 684-0231
Alexandra Morton (250) 973-2306

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.