Heavy sedimentation and debris from last summer’s fires barricaded the Bonaparte River fishway to steelhead spawning grounds. The fish have since been declined a listing under the Species at Risk Act after an emergency assessment in early 2018 confirmed the species are at imminent risk of extinction. (Black Press file photo)

B.C. Liberals accuse NDP government of continued neglect over dwindling steelhead populations

Province defends actions, points finger at Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The BC Liberals Steelhead Caucus is calling on the NDP government to do more to protect the province’s wild steelhead populations.

Citing the federal government’s financial support of wild B.C. salmon conservation projects, Steelhead Caucus co-chair Jackie Tegart issued a statement demanding similar action from the province over the iconic trout species.

“The BC Liberal Steelhead Caucus has been calling on the Province for years to protect this valuable species and it is encouraging to see the federal government taking real steps to support fish populations here in B.C. — but there is still more that needs to be done,” said Tegart, the Fraser-Nicola MLA. “The NDP has been ignoring this issue for years and we need to see them take immediate action or this iconic species will be lost forever.”

READ MORE: Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

B.C.’s Steelhead population have been in dramatic decline for decades due in part to habitat loss and bycatch mortality from salmon fisheries.

In an emailed statement from B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, a spokesperson defended the province’s actions over Interior Fraser Steelhead populations, saying the government is “extremely concerned” with the state of the species.

He said while the province has oversight of freshwater fish, the actions of other parties impact steelhead mortality. For that reason, he added, the province is building a multi-party management plan that includes a memorandum of understanding with the First Nations Fisheries Council and a Joint Action Plan with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

READ MORE: Threats to the Fraser River at ‘new zenith,’ says river conservationist

That plan has been mired in controversy with accusations from the province last year that DFO was not closing salmon fisheries in waters shared by migrating steelhead, resulting in bycatch deaths.

The federal government also rejected a recommendation by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to list the Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead populations as endangered under the Species at Risk Act, saying the listing would not produce desired outcomes comparative to a long-term action plan with the province of British Columbia.

This year the province expects 95 per cent of the run will be protected for most of its 82-day run time, but maintains the federal government’s conservation measures still fall short of the level of protection needed to give the species a chance to recover.

Within the next few weeks the B.C. government said it will release an online platform with the aim of improving public access to management information, science fact sheets and progress updates.



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Pipeline camp liquor license gets second public hearing

“We really didn’t hear from enough people and we didn’t have the full spectrum of information.”

No new COVID-19 cases for the first time in weeks: Interior Health

Hospitalization also down to zero across the region

Chase RCMP seek information for decade-long missing person investigation

Shayne Murray Robinson’s truck was found abandoned by the Barriere RCMP detachment in 2010

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

Interior Health expands COVID-19 testing access in Kelowna

First-come, first-serve, no-appointment-needed testing centre opens in downtown Kelowna

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

Forests minister Doug Donaldson doesn’t support ‘moratorium’

Canadians can travel to Hawaii in September; no quarantine with negative COVID test

Travellers will be required to pay for their own tests prior to arriving

Anonymous letters tell Vancouver Island family their kids are too loud

Letter said the noise of kids playing in Parksville backyard is ‘unbearable’

Most Read