Healthy wild fish stocks are vital to the economic prosperity and social fabric of British Columbia’s coastal communities, and are fundamental to the culture of many Indigenous communities.
The focus on research science and restoration projects is part of a broader approach to addressing declines in salmon stocks that include, restoring lost protections for fish and fish habitat in the modernized Fisheries Act, science based fisheries management measures, reviewing concerns regarding predation, and implementing a plan to fight climate change.
Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson and Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard announced four Vancouver Island-based projects under the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF), amounting to an investment of almost $2.2 million. These projects are led by:
- The University of Victoria (UVic) which will support BC rockfish recovery and assessment through outreach and citizen-science emphasizing angler awareness of regulations (via the MyCatch app) and through an evaluation of the effectiveness of rockfish descending devices on reducing rockfish mortality. UVic will partner with academia, conservancy organizations and local First Nations.
- The BC Center for Aquatic Health Sciences and partners, including the BC Salmon Farmers Association, will establish a wet lab facility in the Campbell River area to increase research and diagnostic capacity to identify and examine fish health threats and interactions between farmed and wild stock.
- The Cowichan Valley Regional District and partners, including the Cowichan Tribes, which will conduct an evaluation of the natural boundary of Cowichan Lake to support building critical new water storage infrastructure to provide flows required to sustain Cowichan salmon populations.
- The Comox Valley Project Watershed Society, with the K’ómoks First Nation, North Island College and other partners, which will apply and test tools for identifying, mapping and quantifying important forage fish populations and their habitats. This work will contribute to the conservation of important food sources for Pacific salmon, including Chinook and coho.
Projects funded under BCSRIF will advance work to enhance salmon habitats to help support British Columbia’s fish and seafood sector, and help secure the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon, as well as other wild fish stocks. Over the next five years, investments through the BCSRIF will help ensure British Columbia’s wild fisheries are environmentally and economically sustainable for the long-term, and that employment in the fishery is resilient to the challenges of climate change, as well as evolving economic conditions.
BCSRIF funding is open to Indigenous communities, industry associations, environmental non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. Each application is reviewed and approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of British Columbia. Investments through this program will benefit commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture, as well as science and research initiatives.
“Our government understands the need to protect and restore salmon habitats as a key part of our plan to sustain and restore wild salmon populations. Through the investments being made under the British Columbia Salmon Restauration and Innovation Fund, we are taking decisive action in improving conditions and habitat in waterways across the province. Working in partnership with the Province of British Columbia, I am confident that we can and are making substantive progress in protecting and enhancing our wild fish stocks and in strengthening our fishing industry for today, and for the generations ahead.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“Island rivers are a lifeline for B.C. salmon, and in recent years both rivers and fish have been endangered by the results of a changing climate. These projects support wild salmon populations and habitat at different stages of their lifecycle and are the results of British Columbians from First Nations, governments, academia, and not-for-profit organizations working together in our shared commitment to help wild salmon”
The Honourable Lana Popham, BC Minister of Agriculture
Additional information on the 23 initial projects selected for BCSRIF can be found online here (dfo-mpo.gc.ca) .
The British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund is a 70 per cent federal, 30 per cent provincial cost-shared program.
The Government of Canada is investing $100 million over five years for the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, and is providing a one-time investment of $5 million for the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund.
The Government of British Columbia is investing $42.85 million over five years and has provided a one-time grant of $5 million for the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
Indigenous communities, commercial organizations in the wild fisheries and aquaculture sectors, recreational fisheries, as well as non-commercial organizations such as universities and research institutions, industry associations and conservation groups, can apply.
Salmon are a part of intricate food webs in both their freshwater and marine environments, affecting everything from tiny zooplankton, to large mammals like whales and bears, to birds of prey.
Wild salmon are culturally important for many First Nations in British Columbia. Wild salmon is also part of the province’s long-running tradition of recreational and sport fishing, which is directly connected to its tourism industry.
Further opportunities to apply for funding will be provided in fall 2019. Details and exact dates will be made available at a later date.