The Role of Government

One of the gravest threats to wild salmon at this time is the provincial government of British Columbia - bent on the revenue from licensing farm tenures in the ocean bays, and the federal government of Canada - the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and their ambivalent Wild Salmon Policy.

In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has left little doubt in anyone's mind that he is driven by an economic agenda which has little to no consideration for the wellbeing of wild salmon or the environment.

Focused entirely on exploiting the natural world, aka "resources", wild salmon are an obstacle to cementing global deals to sell off resources from Canada. Many of the desired resources lie within salmon habitat and it is only the Fisheries Act that prevents fish habitat from being compromised.

Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, made a statement in May of 2012 that "The world will not stand by and wait while Canada endlessly deliberates the merits of its resource potential and squanders its legacy. Extraordinary potential exists in every region of our country - natural gas in B.C., oil and minerals on the Prairies, the Ring of Fire in Ontario, Plan Nord in Quebec, hydro power and oil and gas in Atlantic Canada and mining in Canada's North," and that we must "...seize the enormous opportunities presented to our country in the global market so that we can secure prosperity for future generations of Canadians."

joe oliver

Unfortunately, Joe Oliver is deaf to the voices of reason that speak on behalf of all that will be impacted by the greed driven agenda of Oliver and his counterparts.

joe oliver cant hear you

This agenda comes only at the hand of compromising every single living creature unfortunate enough to be in the path of such driven economic ventures. All of the jobs and monetary wealth in the world cannot make up for the loss of wild salmon that would come with the iron fisted agenda of the government.

In March of this year, it was leaked by ex DFO biologist Otto Langer that the government intended to gut the Fisheries Act and sought to eliminate the key habitat protection provisions in the Fisheries Act [i.e. section 35 (1) - also called the HADD (Harmful Alteration, Disruption & Destruction) section of the Act. It is the line that states "no person shall carry on any work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat," that protects wild salmon, and it is that line that has been altered amid mass objection.

It was only after the public were made aware of the proposed changes that Fisheries Minister Kieth Ashfield attempted to rationalize such draconian cuts by saying "There is ample evidence that the policies that we have in place now are inhibiting the everyday activities of Canadian landowners,"

minister ashfield

If the society we live in is more concerned with landowner's "everyday activities" being inhibited than the protection of wild salmon habitat, then the future for wild salmon will become bleaker with every cut.

The new wording reads that "no person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that results in serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or to fish that support such a fishery." Minister Ashfield reserves the "right" to make decisions on allowing harm to fish based on their "contribution ... to the ongoing productivity of commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fisheries."

Responding to a letter sent to him regarding serious concerns about the proposed changes to the act under the "Jobs, Growth and Prosperity" act, Minister Ashfied stated that ; "The proposed amendments will support Fisheries and Oceans Canada's focus on protection efforts for fish that support fisheries that are of importance to Canadians and the threats to those fisheries." That statement makes clear that unless the fish in question are making money for the government of Canada, they will not be protected from the numerous threats that will increase with the act.

Ashfield went further to say; "This support includes regulating direct impacts to fish, permanent changes to and destruction of fish habitat, and managing threats caused by aquatic invasive species." The falsity of this statement is well demonstrated through the Canadian government increasing financial support for farming the aquatic invasive species of Atlantic salmon in wild salmon habitat, a practice which has direct impacts to the fish.

The reality of the government's attempt to gut the Fisheries Act goes far beyond the everyday activities of landowners, and right into the bowels of massive scale industrial projects that have been prevented or slowed down because of the Fisheries Act.

The government has endorsed every major project that will destroy wild salmon habitat. From promoting expansion of the tar sands, to fast tracking the production of a 1,150-kilometre pipeline through central salmon habitat, to pushing mining operations through the "red tape", to giving $4 million to the aquaculture industry to expand, the existing government clearly is not interested in protecting wild salmon.

When the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) was formed to regulate fisheries in the 1800's, it was not so much for the purpose of protecting the fish and oceans, but to monitor the economic proceeds from the fish. With the increasing decline of fish over the years due to industrial project mishaps and poor "management" of the fish, government has realized the costs of protecting wild fish gets in the way of expanding every massive industrial project that has impacted fish over the years. In recognizing that protecting wild salmon is in complete conflict with projects that compromise wild salmon habitat, the government is seeking to gut the Fisheries Act that is in place to protect salmon habitat.

If government is allowed to continue on its current trajectory there will be nothing left of wild salmon stocks in the years to come. The many concerned voices from Indigenous communities, scientists and citizens who call for the protection of wild salmon have been all but ignored by the current Harper government.

Let's not let government compromise wild salmon to death!


No compromise in the defense of wild salmon!