Paul Aquino of Chilliwack was one of several in attendance at the Wild Salmon Policy open house event held last Thursday. (Chris Gadsden photo)

Wild Salmon open house heard from Chilliwack groups

DFO hosted drop-in session in Chilliwack to talk about salmon issues

Chilliwack residents had a lot to say about the Wild Salmon Policy that Fisheries and Oceans Canada is about to implement over the next five years.

Open house consultations on DFO’s draft plan of the Wild Salmon Policy (WSP) were held last Thursday night at Tzeachten Community Centre on Promontory Road.

Nikki Rekman of the Chilliwack-Vedder Cleanup Society found the drop-in event “very informative.”

“I participated mostly in a discussion about opportunities for collaboration. The best plan for success in our opinion was education.”

One thing lacking in the new policy was “appropriate language” concerning the salmon “as a keystone species, a life-giving species and its cultural importance” to First Nations.

“We also feel this speaks directly to our responsibility as non-Indigenous Canadians to take action in truth and reconciliation. How does the DFO plan to incorporate this into the Wild Salmon Policy (WSP) and future policies?” Rekman asked, in one of several questions posed to DFO.

There were reps from the Wild Salmon Caravan, Fraser Basin Council, Fraser Riverkeeper, SOS Save Our Slough, Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition and the Little Miami Streamkeepers from Harrison Hot Springs.

Skwah First Nation elder Eddie Gardner of the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance said “reinstating the habitat protections” that were stripped under the Harper regime was critical, especially given that all five stocks of wild salmon (sockeye, chinook, coho, pink and chum) and steelhead are showing low returns.

Open-net fish farms are a big sticking point.

“DFO’s Aquaculture Policy Framework must be in full compliance with the Wild Salmon Policy (WSP), as opposed to regarding it merely as a guideline,” Gardner said.

It acknowledges the controversy over fish farms, but focuses on “mitigation” rather than a precautionary approach “that is essential to protecting and preserving wild salmon.

“There is no way to mitigate the damage caused to wild stocks by the flow of diseases, parasites and pollution pouring out of open net pen cages,” he added.

READ MORE: Fish farm escapees

Rather than a town-hall format, it was in café format, with an introduction, and then three tables to visit to chat with DFO staff on topics like as “assessment”, “integrated planning” or “collaboration.”

READ MORE: Skwah favour wild fish

Feedback was sought on:

• The work DFO is taking on over five years to implement the WSP;

• The accuracy/clarity of the draft WSP implementation plan; and/or

• Potential opportunities for collaboration and perspectives on priority salmon conservation work moving forward.

For more on the fall consultations go to the consultation site, or email WildSalmonPolicy@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.


 

@chwkjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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Open House last Thursday at Tzeachten Hall in Chilliwack was on the DFO’s draft Wild Salmon Policy. (Black Press File)

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