The Heart of the Fraser contains some of the best sturgeon and salmon spawning habitat in the world, says Marc Angelo (left), the head of the ORC. (submitted)

VIDEO: Habitat destruction in Heart of the Fraser ‘tragic,’ says river advocate

More should be done to protect some of the most productive fish habitat in the Heart of the Fraser

Habitat destruction in the heart of the Fraser River is the most “pressing and urgent” issue facing B.C. and Canada heading into 2019, according to the Outdoor Recreation Council.

Rezoning in 2016 led to clear-cutting to the water’s edge on Herrling, Carey and Strawberry islands in preparation for agriculture or development, and ORC officials say that destroyed crucial swaths of habitat needed for spawning sturgeon and salmon.

READ MORE: Groups fight to protect islands in the Fraser

“The events that have unfolded along the Heart of the Fraser the past two years have been tragic,” said Mark Angelo, ORC Rivers Chair and a longtime river advocate in a year-end statement.

He says it’s only getting worse, and action is required.

“In this day and age, it’s incumbent upon us as a society and country to do far more to protect what is Canada’s most important fish habitat,” Angelo underlined, adding they have started a petition to protect the islands.

Heart of the Fraser is the stretch between Mission and Hope in one of the most productive salmon producing rivers in the world. An upcoming feature film on The Heart of the Fraser is due out this spring.

Developers have also applied to build bridges to Herrling and Carey Islands that would “further compound” the damage, and ORC strongly recommended they not be approved, as did B.C. Wildlife Federation and Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

READ MORE: Call for better management of the gravel reach

“A plan must quickly be put into place to secure, protect and restore this internationally significant habitat,” Angelo said.

He is calling upon all levels of government to work with river conservationists and environmental philanthropists to address this pressing issue.

Angelo and ORC say the islands should be designated as the first “Ecologically Sensitive Area” for inclusion under the upcoming revised Fisheries Act.

“This is a new type of designation that could offer additional levels of protection.”

For more details or to sign the petition, www.heartofthefraser.ca

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The Heart of the Fraser River is in peril, says the head of the ORC. (submitted)

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