For British Columbians our New Year's resolution should be to finally do something about the salmon before there aren't any left. The millions of spawning salmon that used to make their way up the countless rivers and streams of this Province in an annual event that sustained thousands of fishermen, nourished First Nations people for over 30,000 years, and should have continued in perpetuity has been almost completely wiped out. Why is nothing being done?
Ever since 2009 when an estimated 8 million sockeye salmon failed to appear in the Fraser River, which is the most important salmon run in the Province, the finger pointing and speculation has continued with no definitive action being taken. Returns of sockeye have ranged from 2 million to 28 million per year but even the large runs that occur every 4 years have been steadily declining in what can only be described as a slow moving environmental disaster. This past year less than 300,000 salmon returned.
Scientists have come up with the so-called 4-H's to describe what has been the cause of the salmon decline all over the Pacific Northwest and it's hard to argue with the facts that we have over harvested the fishery, ruined many of the spawning streams (particularly in the Fraser River with all the industrial activity), built dams that block their route, and then try to compensate by breeding too many genetically inferior fish in hatcheries that compete with wild salmon for limited supplies. But there are other factors as well including the effects of global warming on the ocean and the spread of sea lice from salmon farms located along the migration routes of the salmon.