Submission 0171-WICKHAM

Submitter: Eric Wickham

Community: Vancouver

Date Submitted: September 6, 2023

DFO mismanagement and centralization in Vancouver, rather than climate change or other environmental factors, is the cause of the decline of Fraser sockeye. The commission should compare DFO’s fishery management practices to those of Alaska, Russia and Japan, where wild salmon stocks are healthy and local fishing industries are booming.

Dear Mr Cohen.
The reason I am writing you is because I believe this commission is probably the last chance for survival of salmon in British Columbia.
A strong statement, but I grew up in a little fishing village started fishing with my dad when I was eight years old and fished until I was in my mid-50s, so I have seemed radical changes and in recent years they have been gutwrenching bad.
I believe If the current management system (DFO) continues unabated it will destroy what is left of a great resource within the next decade.
When I was a child the local fishery officer was a respected member of the community and so knew who was doing what and in that way Poaching to a minimum. The local officers were given a lot of authority and independence of the head office in Vancouver which was only a couple floors of a small building consisted mostly of ex-RAF people who went in the fisheries management after the second world war.
Science was minimal (they didn’t even know where the salmon went when they left the rivers) but management was efficient and kept the resorts in good shape so over 20,000 people on the BC coast from fishing or processing salmon. That was true from the late 1800s until about 1980..
Currently management is centered in Vancouver. The local officers if there are any are considered the bottom of the totem pole in the management structure and have little or no connection with the local community.
To get work at DFO it’s more important that you can speak French then you had no any connection at all in any way with the BC fishing industry or fish!
Not surprisingly these people have made decisions in the last 20 years that have been very destructive to the fishing industry and the fish. This goes way beyond Fraser River salmon. I won’t get into the details but fish stocks and the fishing industry are collapsing coast wide.
On the other hand , our neighbour Alaska is having a bonanza . their salmon catches run from 150 million to 200,000,000 a year their ground fish catches are some of the largest in the world. Stocks are healthy and the industry is booming.
Your advisors (DFO apologist) are gonna tell you it’s all to do with climate change or something else that nature or God did . But trust me it’s it’s all done by man , one case here very poorly, in Alaska very well done.
For example Alaska has never allowed salmon farms (open net pens in the ocean) but focused on just assisting nature with spawning channels and hatcheries for salmon. This has raised their salmon catches from around 10 million in the 1950s to 150 million to 200,000,000 currently.
Prince Williams sound alone which had catches of 10 million salmon before the Exxon Valdez ran aground now has catches around 40 million salmon annually . ( 65 million so far this year and still counting !) Japan also made the correct decision to assist their salmon with hatcheries has had runs larger than Canada every year . Even though only northern area of Japan is suitable for salmon.
Russian catches in recent years have been larger than Canada’s and last year we had a disaster . They had a bonanza. if your commission gets bogged down in minor details and your recommendations end up being little cleanup details like Peter Pierce did, instead of calling for a radical change in DFO and its management practices it will be more than a damn shame.
It may well be the death nail for fisheries British Columbia!

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