British Columbia's salmon stocks are reeling.
Half of Canada’s chinook salmon are endangered, with nearly all other populations in precarious decline, according to a new report, confirming fears that prospects for the species remain dire.
The report by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canadaconcluded that eight of the country’s 16 populations are considered endangered, four are threatened, one is of special concern and the health of two remain unknown.
Only one population, which spawns on the Thompson river in British Columbia, is believed to be stable.
“For those of us who have been working on recovering chinook salmon runs in British Columbia, we knew they were in terrible, terrible shape for quite a while now,” said Aaron Hill of Watershed Watch, an organisation that monitors ecosystem health. “It was actually good to see it finally recognised by this federally mandated science body, because this hopefully initiates more serious protection efforts from the government.”
Watershed Watch has renewed calls for chinook to be listed under federal legislation which would afford the ailing populations more robust government protection. But similar calls were made last year, when the same committee of scientists found that one-third of sockeye salmon are endangered, and the federal government has yet to take action.The decline of British Columbia's salmon stocks, whether from climate change or lax federal fishing regulations, powerfully impacts the coastal ecology. Spawning salmon are an essential foodstock for bears, eagles, and other land-based predators. The decline in salmon stocks is considered a major factor in the dwindling numbers of resident Orca.
Surely we learned our lesson with the collapse of Newfoundland's cod stocks. There's no excuse for Ottawa allowing a similar collapse on the west coast.