Government of Canada and Province of British Columbia partner to take bold action to conserve Steelhead Trout

News release

July 11, 2019

Vancouver, British Columbia — Steelhead trout, an iconic British Columbia fish, have been in significant decline during recent years. The Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead runs in particular have reached critically low levels. The Governments of Canada and British Columbia are working together to conserve, protect, and recover Thompson and Chilcotin steelhead populations.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, the Minister of Agriculture of British Columbia, Honourable Lana Popham, and the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development in British Columbia, the Honourable Doug Donaldson released a comprehensive Steelhead Action Plan that contains new conservation measures for Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead Trout that will:

  • reduce mortality and increase survival of Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead returning to rivers to spawn;
  • improve freshwater conditions through habitat protection and restoration; and,
  • increase science and monitoring activities.

As part of this Action Plan, the Province of British Columbia is closing the recreational fisheries in the Thompson and Chilcotin watersheds and the Government of Canada is putting in place rolling closures for commercial salmon fisheries from September 6 to November 22, 2019, depending on the area. The federal closures may be subject to change due to in-season conditions as the steelhead return. We will also be improving freshwater conditions through improved watershed management and investments in habitat protection and restoration.

While an Emergency listing of Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead populations as endangered under the Species at Risk Act was assessed, the Government of Canada has determined that an emergency listing would produce suboptimal ecological, social and economic outcomes relative to a comprehensive, long-term collaborative action plan with British Columbia. Our respective governments will move forward in close collaboration with Indigenous groups and stakeholders to implement measures that will work to restore these populations.


“Over the past several years we have witnessed significant declines in the numbers of Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead Trout returning to spawn. We must take thoughtful near term action to ensure these runs are not lost forever. The Action Plan we are announcing today is the product of close and sustained collaboration between two governments that care deeply about the protection of biodiversity. Through the  comprehensive measures contained in the Steelhead Action Plan we are taking the steps necessary to protect and restore these populations.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“We must act swiftly to ensure that these important runs don’t disappear entirely. With the steady decline in the returning Chilcotin and Thompson River steelhead trout spawn, our immediate first step must be to introduce measures to protect the remaining fish, coupled with a comprehensive plan to increase steelhead returning to spawn in our interior streams and rivers. We will continue to work closely with our federal partners to ensure we are both doing everything we can to make sure we protect and restore this iconic British Columbian species.”

The Honourable Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture of British Columbia

“We need to work together on conservation measures to give Steelhead trout the best chance at long term survival as we try to reverse the decline in their numbers.”

The Honourable Doug Donaldson, Minister of Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development in British Columbia

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Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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