MP Nathan Cullen says his recent telephone briefing with North Coast senior managers from Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) regarding 2018-19 draft salmon harvest plans was useful in sharing the concerns of his constituents and also opening channels of communication with the department.
“It is absolutely imperative that elected officials have access to local senior managers about fishery management thoughts and plans as elected representatives are often the first people anxious user groups turn to when tough decisions are on the table,” Cullen said, in a news release.
Projected record low sockeye and chinook returns to the Skeena Watershed this season and DFO considering a total closure of these species have all user groups and First Nations fishers on edge. Many have contacted Cullen with their concerns in recent weeks.
Cullen was frustrated two weeks ago when DFO refused to allow coastal managers to speak with him, forcing his staff to spend several days negotiating with political advisors for a briefing.
In the telephone meeting, Cullen pressed DFO to pursue more aggressive management strategies to rebuild depleted North Coast salmon stocks, impose sharp restrictions on large commercial fishing lodges, and release 2018 harvest numbers as soon as possible.
Climate change and warmer waters are causing severe mortality in salmon stocks, tensions among user groups, and threatening First Nations cultures, area economies and lifestyles in ways not seen previously in the Northwest, Cullen said.
“Salmon are essential to the people of the Northwest. We must respect and protect this precious resource and now, more than ever, be guided by conservation as our watchword.”
Cullen and his staff will continue to be in contact with DFO senior staff locally as officials consult on draft harvest plans and make final allocation decisions for the upcoming season.