NGOs upset over chum salmon discards

Three Canadian environmental groups say Canada is mismanaging the British Columbia chum salmon fishery by allowing massive amounts of discards.

Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust on Wednesday alleged that B.C. commercial fisheries discarded more than 1.37 million pounds of chum salmon over the last month, enough, they say, to fill 40 transport trucks. The groups say that many of the fish will not survive to spawn.

“It’s crazy to allow this kind of competitive time-limited fishery and at the same time expect fishermen to return so many salmon to the water in a careful manner when no one is watching,” said Greg Knox, executive director of SkeenaWild. “Fishery managers confirmed to us that regulations were not being followed, but the fishery was allowed to continue with no serious or immediate consequences for offenders.”

Fishermen have been required to discard chum salmon in several fisheries this year because of concerns for low abundance throughout British Columbia salmon fisheries. The NGOs (non-governmental organizations) say that in one fishing area south of Prince Rupert, more than over 310 metric tons of chum salmon were discarded in order to retain 870 metric tons of pink salmon.

“Those discarded chum salmon could have fed bears, eagles, wolves and dozens of other wildlife species in our coastal rivers,” said Raincoast biologist Misty MacDuffee. “Salmon availability influences physical condition and cub survival for coastal grizzlies, and chum salmon are a preferred food species for bears, making them an important resource.”

MacDuffie adds that British Columbia’s pink salmon fisheries should lose their Marine Stewardship Council certification for sustainability if current fishing practices are allowed to persist.


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