Actor William Shatner calls for 'immediate action' on declining steelhead population

Photo from Getty Images.

Canadian actor William Shatner is calling on the federal government to take action on the declining steelhead salmon population in the Thompson River watershed in B.C's southern Interior.

Shatner sent a letter to Dominic LeBlanc, federal minister of fisheries, calling out "gill nets and other non-selective fishing methods" for contributing to this particular population of steelhead being unable to reach their spawning grounds. 

"It is difficult to imagine that the Canadian government would stand idly by, allowing a 'business as usual' approach to prevail when a species is facing extinction," Shatner said in his letter. "Thompson steelhead, an international treasure, need and deserve your immediate action."

Shatner also sent his letter to the B.C. ministers of agriculture, environment and natural resources.

In the letter, Shatner said there is no need for lengthy consultation studies as research already shows there is a problem. In November 2017, data showed that steelhead in B.C.'s Interior were critically low. One hundred forty-five steelhead were expected to reach their spawning grounds in the Thompson watershed this year.

Shatner's call-to-action comes after the Steelhead Society of British Columbia reached out to him for support, hoping that attaching a celebrity name to their cause would shed light on the issue, said society president Brian Braidwood.

Braidwood said he'd like to see the provincial and federal governments work together to "get serious about these fish."

"We have an exclusive species that's being allowed to go extinct," Braidwood said, adding that people come from all over the world to fish for and see the local steelhead. 

"I just hope that with all of this public outcry, hopefully, we see some definite positive actions to protect the fish in the future."

This isn't the first time Shatner has used his celebrity status to raise awareness about salmon conservation in B.C. —  he's openly supported Bill C-228, which proposed that the federal government amend the Fisheries Act to require open net fish farms on B.C.'s coast to move toward closed containment systems. That motion was defeated in December 2016.