Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative
Pacific salmon need our help. In recent years, climate change, habitat loss and fishing pressures have negatively affected Pacific salmon at every stage of their lifecycle. Our Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative will guide a strategic and coordinated long term response to these issues, rooted in collaborative action, to stabilize and restore Pacific salmon and salmon habitat for the people, communities and ecosystems that depend upon their sustainability.
Pillars of the strategy
Our strategy aims to stem the steep decline of many Pacific salmon populations and to protect and rebuild stocks where possible by implementing a series of immediate and long-term solutions that focus on 4 key areas:
Engagement on the Initiative
We can't do this alone. We are proposing a number of actions to address Pacific salmon declines and will be engaging with:
- Indigenous communities
- governments at all levels
- the commercial salmon fishing industry and recreational fishers
- environmental and salmon stewardship organizations
- scientists and other academics
- general public
These engagements will ensure our efforts are focused on the actions that will have the greatest impact.
Canada’s west coast: where millions of Pacific salmon have returned to their spawning grounds every year for millennia to repeat their life cycle. And where they have played a fundamental role in the culture of the Indigenous peoples of the region.
But recent decades have seen significant declines in many salmon populations.
An increasing number are at risk of being lost.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada launched the long-term Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative – or PSSI – in June 2021 to help us respond to these declines and improve outcomes for both salmon and the people whose livelihoods and cultures depend on them.
While several factors are responsible, climate change has emerged as a key driver for this persistent downward trend.
Freshwater temperatures in summer are becoming too warm for salmon.
Forest fires, floods and other major events are dramatically altering watersheds.
Extreme flooding can scour eggs from their spawning gravel.
Droughts result in lower water levels that can kill juvenile salmon.
Large marine heatwaves in the North Pacific Ocean mean less nutritious food for salmon, resulting in smaller and weaker fish trying to return home.
Fortunately, some salmon species are adapting better than others.
DFO is conducting further research and monitoring to better understand and help improve how we manage salmon in a changing climate.
The PSSI is supporting action under 4 key pillars.
We are working alongside partners, such as First Nations and stewardship groups to monitor salmon populations.
Our new Salmon Stewardship group is also establishing a Habitat Restoration Centre of Expertise to provide expert advice to community-driven habitat improvement projects to help support stocks.
We’re also increasing our monitoring and enforcement efforts against illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing on the high seas.
We are improving and modernizing current salmon hatcheries and building targeted new ones focused on conservation, to help in rebuilding key salmon populations.
Mass marking of hatchery salmon can also play an important role to rebuild vulnerable populations.
DFO is closing a greater number of commercial salmon fisheries for the long term, where weak stocks are located to allow them to rebuild.
Commercial salmon harvesters will be able to retire their licences for market value.
DFO will also work with Indigenous communities to diversify commercial fishing access to other non-salmon species, where opportunities exist.
The PSSI also aims to transform how the salmon fleet harvests in the future by encouraging them to shift to more selective fishing gear.
In the recreational sector, DFO will be looking to adapt our licensing and management tools to digital and electronic platforms.
But key to the overall success of the PSSI is integration and collaboration.
In addition to integrating DFO’s own various recent investments, we want to work with our partners and stakeholders to find solutions together.
DFO’s PSSI offers a unique opportunity to give this iconic resource a chance at survival.
Together, we can make a difference – both for the future of Pacific salmon and our own.
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