Thursday, July 23, 2015

Council hears more concerns over 2015 Salmon Season

Monday's City Council session ended on a rather disturbing note for the local economy, with Councillor Joy Thorkelson outlining the current state of the North Coast Salmon Season, one which she described as an absolutely disastrous situation.

Making use of the allowed time for Council members at the end of the Monday evening session, Ms.Thorkelson, who is the Northern representative for UFAWU, followed up on her report of a few weeks ago.

Noting on Monday evening, that the algae issues of the Nass provided the first warnings on the season and that things haven't improved much since she provided that update.

Calling the 2015 season a Non Fishing Season, with fewer than 100,000 pieces of sockeye caught on the North Coast to this point, with the prospect of the current faint hope for a Skeena opening for sockeye becoming even fainter.

The Canadian Fish Cannery on
George Hills Way did not start up
until July 9th, the latest start up in memory
She also noted that the Pink run has not yet shown up on the North Coast, all of which have combined for the latest start to the salmon cannery operations, with the Canadian Fish Cannery not starting its canning lines until July 9th.

A situation which Ms. Thorkelson notes is the latest that she has ever seen in her time in the region, adding that it may be the latest start since the industry was created.

The Councillor highlighted that the lack of employment opportunities in the fishery this year will mean that many of those who work at the cannery won't qualify for unemployment insurance and instead will have to rely on welfare, a situation which she says will lead to further housing issues in the community.

"We're going to have very few people from the Cannery have enough money to get unemployment insurance which is going to create a bigger crunch on housing,  because more people will have to rely on welfare, and welfare will claw back all of the money that earn this summer " -- Councillor Thorkelson on the impact of a poor fishing season on social concerns in the city

She also observed that with less money being earned, local merchants around the city will feel the impact of decreased spending in the community.

"That's depressing news, and it's impacting the stores in town, because when shoreworkers get their paycheques, and they haven't had a good paycheque ... the stores count on the summer earnings as a big boost to the economy, so it's going to be a big impact on the stores downtown too -- Councillor Thorkelson with notes on the economic impact of the poor salmon season this year

She updated Council on some of the options that the fishing fleet is considering to try and address the future prospect of similar unexpected failures in the future.

The dwindling returns of the North Coast Fishery are particularly disappointing, as the projected figures for both the Skeena and the Nass River systems had indicated that the 2015 fishing season would have the best year since 2001 for the region.

Thorkelson offered up her opinion that the cause of the current situation involves the ocean conditions which are changing and suggested that there is a need to reduce our carbon footprint if we are to see the fishery come back.

You can review her synopsis for the season from the City's Video Archive starting at the two hour six minute mark.


Updates and background on decisions related to the salmon season from DFO can be reviewed from their website, with Fishery Notices posted here.

 For more items related to the North Coast fishery see our archive page

More items related to City Council discussions can be found from our Council Archive page.

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