Letter writer would like to fire DFO

When are British Columbians finally going to say enough is enough and kick DFO off their idiotic throne in Ottawa?

Over the last 50 years, many of British Columbia’s wild salmon and steelhead stocks have been slowly sliding downhill and now sadly teeter precariously on the brink of extinction.

DFO has not only failed miserably to live up to its mandate of protecting, conserving and enhancing British Columbia’s wild salmon and steelhead stocks, they have failed the citizens of British Columbia time, after time, after time with their incompetence and a complete lack of good judgement and common sense.

While the top-heavy, study-loving DFO has cut the funding to the bone for wild salmon and steelhead and their vitally important habitat, they are now poised to dole out millions of your taxpayer dollars to help fish farms that are scientifically proven to be destroying wild salmon stocks with uncontrollable plagues of life-sucking sea lice and highly contagious diseases of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) and Piscine Reovirus (PRV.) In doing so, DFO is deliberately breaking the law by putting all of BC’s wild salmon stocks at risk of extinction and ruining the lives of people that depend on wild salmon runs for all-important sustenance and livelihoods.

Make no mistake, DFO is in the back pocket of the foreign corporations running BC’s net pen fish farms and has quietly chosen to promote aquaculture over essential wild salmon and steelhead stocks. It’s also becoming increasingly clear that once DFO has mismanaged BC’s wild salmon stocks into extinction, the door will be wide open for fish farmers and the government to have full control of a very valuable food source in an ever-growing, hungry world.

Recently, DFO has proposed sportfishing closures throughout southern B.C. and the West Coast of Van Isle to protect “Chinook salmon” the key food source of the iconic southern resident Orcas. DFO’s brilliant Oceans Protection Plan is touted as a remedy for the supposedly starving resident killer whales. DFO is going to sink 1.5 billion taxpayer dollars into various studies, with not a single dime earmarked for any Chinook salmon rehabilitation, restoration or enhancement.

And then we have the armchair environmentalists and banner wavers pushing government to save the whales. Instead of lobbying DFO—the government agency mandated to protect, conserve and enhance BC’s wild fish stocks—the uninformed and disconnected public and their cash-hungry environmental organizations are targeting the sportfishing groups that donate their time, raise funds and work hard to help run the majority of British Columbia’s top-producing Chinook salmon sea-pens, hatcheries and river systems. While the sport-fishermen/women are deeply devoted to see healthy, sustainable populations of wild salmon for future generations, the majority of armchair environmentalists contribute nothing but lip service.

It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that without the dollars, time and hard work that sportfishermen/women put in to revitalizing wild and Hatchery chinook stocks, BC’s Chinook salmon will eventually dwindle in numbers or go extinct— and along with them the remaining resident Orcas.

Here in supernatural British Columbia, our provincial NDP government has just granted Cermaq net-pen fish farms a permit to apply 2.3 million litres of the pesticide Paramove 50 to Atlantic Salmon in Clayuquot Sound. If that’s not enough to make your blood boil, what will British Columbians do on June 20th when the NDP Government grants the tenures—or license of occupation—to fish farms located directly on the migration paths of troubled Fraser River salmon stocks?

Last, but certainly not least, exploding populations of herds of sea lions and seals have become a serious problem. Like it or not, seals are gorging themselves on unsuspecting, young salmon smolts on their outbound migration. The sea lions feast on all species of mature salmon returning to spawn in natal streams and rivers. In fact, there are now so many seals and sea lions working the narrow back-eddies and slower tidal sections of the Inside Passage—where I have lived for many years—that I’m amazed any of the homebound salmon manage to make it through the gauntlet.

The time has come for British Columbians to follow Alaska’s path to vibrant, sustainable salmon and steelhead runs. While Alaska might not be perfect, they had a record-breaking 291 million salmon harvested during the 2017 season. British Columbia—on the other hand—had the lowest returns of wild salmon in recorded history. This, in turn, lead to our once thriving commercial salmon fishing fleet remaining tied to the dock until the final few weeks of the fall, when they harvested low-valued chum salmon.

What British Columbians need to do immediately is form a powerful United Front and dump DFO. The new United Front could then form a homegrown provincial fisheries organization with caring, qualified, experienced BC citizens. People with their hearts in it and their fingers on the pulse of all salmon and steelhead runs. The new group could then manage, protect and enhance our precious and irreplaceable salmon and steelhead stocks for the benefit of all British Columbians and for future generations yet to come.

Ken Kristian

Former commercial fisherman, former professional fresh and saltwater fishing guide, stream keeper, former director of the Save Our Fish Foundation