Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council

Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council

October 19, 2006 14:15 ET

Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council: Communique; Implement Wild Salmon Policy, Protect All Habitats, Says Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 19, 2006) - The Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (PFRCC) today issued an advisory detailing a specific plan for the federal Fisheries Department (DFO) to push forward on implementing the habitat and ecosystem strategies of the Wild Salmon Policy. The Council also called for action on pre-spawning mortality of salmon in BC waters. In addition, the Council criticized the Business Council of BC's recent attempt to have the Fisheries Act amended to take away protection from some salmon habitats.

At a news conference held beside the Adams River at the peak of this year's salmon run, PFRCC Chair Paul LeBlond announced the release of the Council's advisory titled Implementing the Habitat and Ecosystem Components of DFO's Wild Salmon Policy.

"Our advisory offers a detailed implementation plan, and recommends that strategies for habitat and ecosystem management be implemented together because of their overlap and as a means of saving costs," said LeBlond. "We recommend the use of broad-scale indicators throughout BC's salmon waters and more detailed monitoring where high value habitat is under threat. We stress that monitoring and management actions be linked - good management must be based on good information."

PFRCC's advisory, available at advocates establishment of a formal agreement between the federal and provincial governments to share data. The Council also notes need for DFO to also collaborate with First Nations, industry and salmon stewardship groups.

The Council also highlighted the need to devote more resources to studying the causes of increased mortality of Fraser River salmon between the time they enter the river and the time they spawn. In recent years the pattern has changed and pre-spawning mortality rates have been very high, sometimes approaching 90%. Some officials have suggested pre-spawning mortality rates on the Adams River, for example, will be 30 to 50% this year, up from previous rates of 5%.

"In the opinion of Council, the factors contributing to pre-spawning mortality of not only the Adams sockeye, but other late-run stocks such as the Cultus Lake populations, comprise one of the primary conservation problems in BC," said Mark Angelo, vice-chair of PFRCC. "And this is making the task of determining safe harvest levels exceedingly difficult. There needs to be a focused ecosystem approach to the issue so as to better understand the cause and manage accordingly."

The Council also took exception to a recent report by the Business Council of BC that recommended changing the Fisheries Act to remove DFO protection of certain habitats.

"We believe that more, not less, protection of wild salmon habitat is required, based on a smooth collaboration of federal and provincial agencies," noted Angelo. "Habitat protection can be improved by adopting a management system based on specific indicators, monitoring, appropriate action and an adequately funded program, as outlined in our advisory."

This advisory provides critical advice on the need to link monitoring to management actions so that habitat and ecosystem integrity can be maintained. The advisory describes a logical and unique eight-step framework for implementation of the habitat and ecosystem management components outlined in the Wild Salmon Policy. PFRCC is recommending broad spatial mapping of salmon distributions and high value habitat for conservation units, as well as detailed monitoring of habitat with high values at risk. The advisory also recommends management actions be undertaken to reduce if not eliminate habitat threats identified. More effort should be expended where values and risks are high but all habitat needs protection and management.

The Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council was created in 1998 to serve as a source of information to the public and advice to governments on wild Pacific salmon and steelhead and their ocean and freshwater habitats.

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