salmon

Five new B.C. programs to enhance salmon habitat

“We’re taking steps to promote long-term and sustainable salmon runs in B.C.” – Lana Popham, BC Minister of Agriculture

By SeaWestNews

Five new Vancouver-based projects will get $2.7 million in government funding to restore and enhance salmon habitat to support British Columbia’s fish and seafood sector and help secure the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon.

The money will flow through the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF), which is a 70 per cent federal, 30 per cent provincial cost-shared program.

“Through the investments being made under the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, we are taking decisive action in improving conditions and habitat in waterways across the province, said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

“Working in partnership with the Province of British Columbia, I am confident that we can and are making substantive progress in protecting and enhancing our wild fish stocks and in strengthening our fishing industry for today, and for the generations ahead.”

Lana Popham, BC Minister of Agriculture, said there is still a lot of mystery around the lives of wild salmon in the open ocean.

“By understanding more about their travel patterns in the ocean, and learning what we can do to support them in the estuaries they return to, we’re taking steps to promote long-term and sustainable salmon runs in B.C., and the cultural, ecological and economic benefits that they bring to our communities,” she said.

The new projects are led by:

The University of British Columbia, which will lead a science partnership project to conduct research on improving the sustainability of capture and release marine recreational Pacific salmon fisheries using new tools and technology.

The International Year of the Salmon partners, including the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization. They will conduct pan-Pacific vessel surveys in the winter and summer of 2021 to monitor distribution, abundance, and productivity of salmon to directly inform fisheries management decision and enforcement efforts. This project will provide insight into how climate variability influences the distribution, migration, growth, and fitness of Pacific salmon.

The Canadian Groundfish Research and Conservation Society, in partnership with Vericatch Solutions Inc., which will develop an electronic application for fishing vessels that utilises at-sea monitoring data from commercial groundfish vessels. These applications will work in real time to create heat maps showing where marine species of concern (such as chinook salmon) are being encountered to minimise bycatch.

The Nature Trust of BC will undertake monitoring and research to assess estuary resilience to sea level rise and other climate impacts across the coast of BC. They will be using the Marsh Resiliency to Sea Level Rise (MARS) tool, followed by restoration projects to restore core natural estuarine processes. The Nature Trust of BC will partner with various local First Nations groups, environmental organizations and academic institutions.

The Sport Fishing Institute (SFI) will further develop the Fishing BC mobile app, an online information and catch monitoring tool.

Projects funded under BCSRIF will advance work to restore and enhance salmon habitat to support British Columbia’s fish and seafood sector, and help secure the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon, as well as other wild fish stocks. Over the next five years, investments through the BCSRIF will help ensure British Columbia’s wild fisheries are environmentally and economically sustainable for the long-term, and that middle-class jobs in the fishery are resilient to the challenges of climate change, as well as evolving economic conditions.

Minister Wilkinson also took the opportunity to announce DFO’s first ever scientific report called the State of Pacific Salmon.

This report, which was the product of DFO scientists, examines the impacts climate change is having on wild Pacific salmon.

The report finds that the Northeast Pacific Ocean warming trends and marine heatwaves like “The Blob” are affecting ocean food webs. British Columbia and Yukon air and water temperatures are warming and precipitation patterns are changing which is altering freshwater habitats that the salmon migrate through. These marine and freshwater ecosystem changes are impacting Pacific salmon at every stage of their life-cycle.

Quick facts

The British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund is a 70 per cent federal, 30 per cent provincial cost-shared program.

The Government of Canada is investing $100 million over five years for the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, and is providing a one-time investment of $5 million for the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund.

The Government of British Columbia is investing $42.85 million over five years and has provided a one-time grant of $5 million for the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Indigenous communities, commercial organizations in the wild fisheries and aquaculture sectors, recreational fisheries, as well as non-commercial organizations such as universities and research institutions, industry associations and conservation groups, can apply.

The first intake of proposals for the fund, which launched in May 2019, produced a total of 192 applications.

Salmon are a part of intricate food webs in both their freshwater and marine environments, affecting everything from tiny zooplankton, to large mammals like whales and bears, to birds of prey.

Wild salmon are culturally important for many First Nations in British Columbia. Wild salmon is also part of the province’s long-running tradition of recreational and sport fishing, which is directly connected to its tourism industry.

Commercial fishing plays a large role in the province’s economy, and it is crucial that we support sustainability in this important industry that creates so many jobs for British Columbia’s coastal communities.

Over this summer, government officials will be working with applicants to further discuss their submissions, and to explore potential options to strengthen collaboration, and increase the scope and scale of their projects. Some applicants may be invited to submit a full proposal, while others will be encouraged to submit a new, re-scoped application during the next round of intake.

Further opportunities to apply for funding will be provided in fall of 2019. Details and exact dates will be made available at a later date.

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