Harvesters say people have been fooled “into thinking this is the answer to the salmon crisis”

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60 per-cent of commercial salmon fisheries to be shuttered.

The United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union (UFAWU-Unifor) in Canada has released a statement saying that significant commercial salmon closures will “devastate salmon, harvesters, and coastal communities alike”.

Furthermore, UFAWU-Unifor added that the plan has no mechanism to re-open the fisheries when stocks are in abundance. Those affected by these closures have no safety net, nor were they offered one.

At the end of June, the Canadian federal government announced significant closures for the 2021 season. 79 fisheries will close for the season representing 60 per-cent of Canada’s commercial salmon, based in BC and Yukon.

“What cannot be debated is that most wild Pacific salmon stocks continue to decline at unprecedented rates – we are pulling the emergency brake to give these salmon populations the best chance at survival. The decisions to implement new long-term closures and permanently remove the effort from the commercial salmon fishery were not easy, as they impact people, communities, and livelihoods,” said Minister of Fisheries Bernadette Jordan in April.

The Federal government announced in April that it had set aside CAD 647.1 million (EUR 429 million) “stabilise and conserve wild salmon populations”. The previous year’s federal investment was CAD 246 million (EUR 163 million).

The union said that “these closures lack grounding in science and blatantly disregard the true causes of the crisis”.

“While local salmon harvesters make for convenient scapegoats, it’s time for the government to address the real issues. Instead, the federal government has spent the past 20 years drastically reducing commercial fishing capacity and access, and yet salmon stocks have continued to decline. If ending the salmon crisis was as simple as reducing fisheries, the crisis we see today wouldn’t exist,” it added.

“DFO’s own biologists and managers were not consulted or notified in these decisions, nor were harvesters made aware that any such closures were imminent,” wrote UFAWU-Unifor.

The union said they have been made scapegoats and that the “only gain will be the political favour of those who’ve been fooled into thinking this is the answer to the salmon crisis”.