qathet Living, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Powell River Salmon Society has recieved zero increase in funding from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the federal government over the past 40 years.
With the federal announcement of the $647.1 million investment towards saving Pacific wild salmon last year, the Powell River Salmon Society had heard nothing about receiving any of this, despite North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney writing a letter to the Department of Fisheries Oceans (DFO) minister last July. After no response to the letter, Rachel and the Salmon Society worked together to create a petition.
In May the over 300-signature petition was taken by Rachel to the House of Commons and on April 6, Rachel spoke in the House again.
“The Powell River Salmon Society in my riding is one of several non-profits doing amazing work on local salmon enhancement and preservation, and the minister agrees,” said Rachel.
“Small local hatcheries have not seen federal funding increase for over 40 years, and they were ignored during all the federal consultations.
“Why is the minister not supporting these successful and existing hatcheries now?”
DFO Minister Joyce Murray gave her response.
She explained that she had recently visited a local hatchery in Metro Vancouver, and saw the important work these hatcheries do.
“The protection of wild Pacific salmon population is an incredibly important priority for British Columbia,” says Joyce. “I know that the work the hatchery groups do assist with that. It will be supported by an almost $650 million historic investment in Pacific salmon and salmon enhancement, i.e. hatcheries, as one of the pillars of that initiative.”
Salmon Society manager Shane Dobler says while he appreciates the minister’s statement, her words are not consistent with DFO Pacific. “To date, there is no plan to address our funding concerns.”
While no announcement has been made of when these funds will be granted to community hatcheries, a media release from April 22 shows a list of hatcheries and organizations that had gained funding through the Province’s version of the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative; the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation fund.
Hatcheries from Campbell River, the Lower Sunshine Coast, and Comox Valley all received a part of this; neither the Powell River Salmon Society nore the Tla’amin Nation Salmon Hatchery were included on this list.
Top photo credit: Hatchery tech Tyler Bartfai moves salmon fry at the PR Salmon Society at the Mill. Despite remarkable results over decades, Ottawa has not so far included local hatcheries in a flush of cash this spring. Photo by Abby Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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