The crisis and recovery of wild salmon stocks were topics of discussion between Taylor Bachrach, Skeena Bulkley MP during an official visit with Alaskan legislators, in Washington D.C, on Oct. 21.
The politicians from both countries discussed how relationships may move forward working together to preserve the vital asset and find remedies to the salmon crisis.
“My goal here is to have a high-level conversation with legislators at the federal level … about how we work together and have a robust conversation that leads to better outcomes for wild salmon,” Bachrach told The Northern View.
“We need to avoid a situation where we simply have managed declines over the years. We need to restore the abundance and diversity of our wild stocks.”
Bachrach said this year only 5,400 steelhead salmon returned to the Skeena River, marking the lowest return on record. This led to the closure of recreational fishing in the watershed.
This summer, Fisheries and Oceans Canada closed 79, nearly 60 per cent of commercial salmon fisheries, due to collapsing salmon stocks.
One of his main objectives of the visit is to improve data sharing and ensure a new scientific approach to tackling the challenge of what is happening to salmon throughout their international habitat.
Currently, Canada does not have a strong grasp of what is happening to salmon in the ocean environment, specifically to the different sources of steelhead mortality and how many salmon are being caught by the Alaskan fleet, Bachrach said.
What also complicates things further is the way different jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S. manage their salmon. In Canada, salmon are managed at the federal level through Fisheries and Oceans Canada, while in the U.S. they are managed at the state level by Alaska.
Bachrach said he is committed to fighting for the commercial sectors to receive the emergency financial relief they deserve.
“That’s an important conversation, it’s the conversation that we’re having back home in Ottawa and not one that we’re dealing with in Washington today, but it’s a very important aspect of this wild salmon crisis we’re facing.”
Bachrach reached out to the Alaskan delegation after they expressed an interest in the sustainability of the transboundary watershed straddling Canada and the U.S.
Health of the salmon is at the centre of their conversation, Bachrach said.
“I wanted to ensure that they understood some of the things we’re seeing in British Columbia, when it comes to our salmon return, and talk about how in the future we might be able to catalyze a conversation about more general sustainability of our watersheds,” Bachrach said.
“[The] one thing that I know is that the more that we can communicate with each other, and identify opportunities, the better chance we’re going to have of finding things that make a real difference,” he said.
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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