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Harvest transformation

Many Pacific salmon stocks have been declining to historic lows; in fact, 50 Pacific salmon populations are either currently being considered or will soon be considered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) for potential listing under the Species at Risk Act. Given this, we need to make bold changes to the way we manage our salmon fisheries.

Through our Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI), we are working toward modernizing and stabilizing salmon fisheries by transforming the way that Pacific salmon is harvested in light of Pacific salmon trends.

Commercial salmon fisheries

Pacific Salmon Commercial Licence Retirement Program

The voluntary Pacific Salmon Commercial Licence Retirement Program will provide harvesters with the option to retire their licences for fair market value. At the same time, this will help us move to a smaller, adaptive and resilient commercial harvesting sector. All individual commercial salmon licence holders will have an opportunity to participate in this initiative.

Commercial fisheries closures

Given pacific salmon trends and the need to protect Pacific salmon stocks of concern, long-term conservation closures intended to further the decisive action taken in the 2021 fishing season are necessary in areas with significant stocks are of conservation concern. Where commercial fishery closures are in place to conserve specific sockeye, pink and chum salmon stocks, recreational retention fisheries will also be restricted.

First Nations salmon fisheries

After conservation, we have a legal obligation to provide priority access for First Nations food, social and ceremonial (FSC), treaty and rights-based fisheries. Unfortunately, in recent years many First Nations communities across British Columbia and Yukon have not been able to fish their harvest allocations because of low salmon returns.

We will be consulting with First Nations on food social, and ceremonial fisheries regarding opportunities to explore more selective fishing approaches and gear, where cost may otherwise be financially challenging. Supporting selective gear and approaches will not only help us meet our salmon conservation goals, but also support First Nation harvesters to engage in food, social and ceremonial fisheries.

Many First Nations in British Columbia and the Yukon hold communal commercial salmon licences as well, providing them commercial access to salmon fisheries. Through consultations, we will be exploring ways to address the impacts on First Nations economic fisheries due to declining salmon returns. Among the options may be shifting to more selective fishing gear (to avoid stocks of concern where possible) or to diversifying to other non-salmon species where available, such as groundfish or shellfish, for example.

Our goal is to work collaboratively with First Nations to understand the interests of their communities, and find the solution that offers continued economic benefits, while at the same time reducing threats to stocks of concern.

Recreational salmon fisheries

We will collaborate with recreational salmon harvesters to modernize how recreational salmon fisheries are managed, taking stock of the fact that the scope, effort and interests of the sector has grown significantly over time.

Recognizing that Pacific salmon trends and the need to protect stocks of concern, will continue to require significant harvesting restrictions of wild salmon stocks in many areas, work will also continue towards providing sustainable harvesting opportunities through marked selective fisheries, where those opportunities exist.

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