Government of Canada takes action to address threats to struggling Fraser River Chinook

News release

June 19, 2020

Vancouver, BC - Chinook salmon populations have been in decline for years as a result of a number of factors including habitat destruction, harvest, and the effects of climate change. The challenges facing at-risk Fraser River Chinook salmon stocks are multi-faceted. The road to recovery requires a long-term view and the collaboration of all interested parties. 

Today, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is releasing 2020 Fisheries management measures that will support the recovery of at-risk Fraser River Chinook populations, as well as protect the jobs and communities that depend on Chinook.

The 2020 measures include additional restrictions to strengthen conservation as well as the flexibility needed where impacts to stocks of concern will be very low.

These measures were developed following consultation with Indigenous communities, recreational and commercial fishing organizations, and environmental organizations. These measures are one component of a larger strategy intended to place at-risk Pacific salmon populations on a path towards sustainability.

Working with First Nations and stakeholders, we are confident we are taking steps to ensure healthier Chinook stocks while maintaining a high degree of protection for endangered Fraser River Chinook. Of the thirteen wild Fraser River Chinook salmon populations assessed, only one is not at risk. The loss of Chinook salmon would be disastrous not just for wildlife that depend on them as a food source, but also for the many First Nations and communities whose ways of life and jobs depend on Fraser Chinook salmon.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada took unprecedented fisheries management measures in 2019 to protect Fraser River Chinook stocks, including efforts to clear the Big Bar Landslide, which further threatened the species. We will continue to assess fish passage at the Big Bar landslide and consider these circumstances in making fisheries management decisions as the season progresses.

The Government of Canada is taking significant action to ensure that our Chinook salmon survive for future generations. The measures announced today highlight the government’s commitment to working collaboratively to ensure the sustainability of Chinook stocks as a means by which to ensure the health of our ecosystems and the long term prosperity of Indigenous and coastal communities.

Quotes

“Pacific wild salmon are an icon of our West Coast, and protecting them is a top priority. The measures announced today are one of many actions we are taking to protect and restore wild Pacific salmon. Indigenous and coastal communities depend on this stock for their food and livelihoods, and we are moving forward with a stringent, but flexible approach that reflects those needs. Together with habitat restoration and protection, increased research and enhancement partnerships we are taking the necessary steps to help safeguard this species, and put them on a path towards sustainability.”

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts

  • To protect and restore Chinook populations, DFO is focusing on these key areas:

    • Habitat protection - Bringing in a new Fisheries Act to restore protections for fish habitat, and working closely with the BC government on land and water use policies that can impact critical habitat.
    • Habitat restoration - In partnership with the province, DFO has created a BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, contributing more than $142 million over five years, enabling salmon and habitat restoration projects in communities across the province.
    • Climate adaptation - Climate affects the survival of Pacific salmon through changes in ocean and freshwater habitats. We are researching how warming waters affect salmon through all life stages, and the implications for ecosystems, and released our first State of Pacific Salmon report in 2019.
    • Improved stock assessment – In the 2018 Economic Statement we committed an additional $107 million to support the implementation of the Fish Stocks provisions of the renewed Fisheries Act. These resources will help improve Pacific salmon stock assessments and contribute to a better managed fishery.
    • Enhanced science and collaboration – To gain a better understanding of what is  happening in the North Pacific and how salmon returns are being affected, DFO recently co-sponsored a second research expedition to the North Pacific with scientists drawn from five countries (Russia, US, Japan, South Korea and Canada).
  • Over $15M expended to date for the Commercial Troll voluntary license buyback program to ease pressure on fish stocks and support the commercial fishing community.

  • After conservation, First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries have constitutionally protected priority. We will continue to work together with affected First Nations to provide FSC harvest opportunities consistent with conservation objectives for at risk Fraser Chinook.

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Contacts

Jane Deeks
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
343-550-9594
Jane.Deeks@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613-990-7537
Media.xncr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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