Action to rebuild endangered Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead
Time is running out for Thompson and Chilcotin River steelhead. Can you take a minute right now to help save them with a quick letter to the feds?
These magnificent sea-going rainbow trout, that once supported a world renowned recreational fishery, are classified as “endangered” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and as an “extreme conservation concern” by the B.C. government’s Fish & Wildlife Section. Immediate action is required to prevent their extinction.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson are now deciding on whether to list these precious fish under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), which would trigger a recovery effort, including severely restricting all sources of mortality. Unfortunately the decision to protect at-risk species is highly political, and the feds are being lobbied by powerful fishing interests to hold back as these fish hurtle towards extinction. In fact, the feds have never listed a marine fish under SARA because they have always bowed to pressure from the fishing industry. PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW.
The primary threats to Thompson and Chilcotin steelhead are warming ocean waters, reduced and warming freshwater flows, and fishing. They migrate alongside the much more abundant chum salmon runs that return to the Fraser in late fall, and a minimum of 15-25% of Thompson River steelhead are caught and discarded as bycatch in commercial, recreational, and First Nations fisheries.
Chum fishers argue that restoring these steelhead runs using the Species At Risk Act will deal a fatal blow to their fisheries. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Selective fishing methods can be used to catch Fraser chum without killing steelhead. A SARA listing would provide long-overdue motivation for B.C.’s antiquated fishing industry to move into the 21st century with more selective gear and methods. Coupled with better monitoring and enforcement, B.C. could boast the most selective and sustainable chum salmon fisheries in the world.
The majority of British Columbians want world-famous Thompson and Chilcotin River steelhead protected from extinction. But our voices need to be stronger than those of the fishing interests lobbying the feds to maintain the status quo. If you want Ministers Wilkinson and McKenna to defend Fraser steelhead using Canada’s Species At Risk Act, PLEASE TELL THEM SO NOW.
You can read COSEWIC Chair, Dr. Eric Taylor’s letter to Minister McKenna here.
Thank you for taking a stand for wild steelhead!