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Vancouver, B.C. – The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Province of British Columbia have asked the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) to lead a fully independent scientific review process designed to enhance the management and conservation of Skeena River salmon and steelhead populations, the Honourable Loyola Hearn, federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Honourable Barry Penner, British Columbia’s Minister of the Environment, announced today. This process is supported by the generous financial support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.”With this scientific review we are confirming that conservation of wild Skeena River salmon and steelhead continues to be the highest priority for both Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Province of British Columbia in our management of these precious resources,” said Minister Hearn. “Our objective is to ensure that future recreational and commercial fisheries continue to be sustainable and viable for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of Canada.”
“Skeena River steelhead, coho and chinook offer amazing recreational opportunities to British Columbians and visitors from around the world,” said Minister Penner. “The independent scientific review and subsequent stakeholder consultations will support the conservation and proper management of these amazing species. Fisheries management decisions for the Skeena River system based on the best available science, including Aboriginal traditional knowledge, will help protect the resource while maintaining economic benefits for local communities.”
The Pacific Salmon Foundation is coordinating the independent scientific review together with the introduction of a new watershed process on concerns over the status of salmon and steelhead stocks from the Skeena River. This will help DFO implement the Wild Salmon Policy, including the introduction of conservation units and an eco-system approach to fisheries management in the Skeena River.
The independent scientific review is being led by fisheries scientists from Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and the United States. It includes an assessment of the current status of fish stocks in the river and the existing in-season fisheries management and stock assessment tools. Advice will be provided on the best approach to consider and respond to risk related to climate change and uncertain marine survival. As well, the review is evaluating ways to address the recovery of depleted stocks from the Skeena River.
The report of the scientific panel, expected in the coming months, will support and provide input to a watershed planning process that will involve First Nations, commercial, recreational and other non-government organizations. Both the scientific review and watershed planning process are intended to complement, not replace, the policies and obligations that the federal and provincial governments have to First Nations. A planning session to begin to develop a watershed process is currently underway.
Backgrounder: Skeena River Management of Salmon and Steelhead Stocks
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