Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Issues of overfishing and habitat loss, make for themes for MLA Ross in Legislature address

MLA Ellis Ross shared more thoughts on the state of the fishery in
British Columbia as discussion on fishery issues continued in the legislature

The focus on the fishery proved to be a common theme for Monday's work in the Legislature, with the representatives of the Northwest providing for a good share of the discussion.

As we noted earlier today, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice addressed the topic as part of her work Monday in the capital, and not to be left out of the debate on the state of the province's fishery was Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, who also spoke towards a number of the issues yesterday.

Mr. Ross, called back to his time as chief councillor of the Haisla Nation and what he had discovered from his studies of the issues.

As chief councillor of the Haisla Nation, I tried to look into improving on stock returns in my territory only to find out the problem of salmon returns goes way beyond what's just in my territory.

On the other side of the continent, the salmon fishery in the Atlantic Ocean is commercially extinct. There are concerns that wild stocks of Atlantic salmon could collapse altogether, just like cod stocks have — all due to overfishing and habitat loss. 

 In British Columbia, we are blessed with 9,000 salmon populations in our province, but not all are healthy. The population and health of steelhead are still very much a concern.

This is why I worked with my Chief and council to see if we could improve on salmon runs returning to our communities for the benefit of our communities. 

The Cohen Commission definitely pointed me in the right direction, and I truly thought all parties would work to save the wild salmon based on science. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

As part of his notes on the topic, the Skeena MLA  he noted how changes in technology and attitudes had led to overfishing of stocks and had not only affected wild salmon, but the eulachon stocks, which he observed was at the core of the Haisla way of life.

From that he put the focus back to need for better oversight and protection from over fishing, by-catch issues and habitat loss, as well as a commitment  s to treaties that should be a key towards keeping the fishery sustainable.

The targeted species of salmon are of course most susceptible, but the by-catch is also a concern that not many people understand or care about. 

One of the issues that brought me to overfishing in the first place was the capture of a non-commercial fish that is at the core of my people's existence — eulachon. 

The eulachon is a non-salmon species, but they are highly prized for their oil content. Finding out that the eulachon were being caught by accident out in the Pacific Ocean and then being discarded because of its non-commercial value added to my fight to bring back the eulachon and the salmon to my community. 

Like all wild species of fish, we must do our best to protect the salmon from the greatest threat to our future survival — overfishing and habitat loss, not just for our communities but for our future generations.

You can review his full contribution to the discussion from the Legislature Hansard archive here, starting at the 10:40 AM mark.

The presentation to the Legislature is also available from the Legislature Video Archive from the video below:

For more items on the work of MLA Ross in Victoria see our archive page here.

Background notes on the Fishing industry on the North Coast can be reviewed from our archive page here.

A larger overview of developments in the provincial capital can be found through our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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