Talks on the salmon crisis ended in two accomplishments, after Taylor Bachrach, Skeena Bulkley MP, visited Washington D.C. on Oct. 21., to address Alaskan officials.
First, an acknowledgement from the Alaskan delegation on the seriousness of the situation recognizing the need to do more on both sides of the border and, second, the need for a formalized forum between elected officials, Bachrach told The Northern View, on Oct. 26.
“When it comes to salmon management, we’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time and the trends unfortunately have been heading, for the most part, in the wrong direction,” Bachrach said.
The Commercial salmon industry was severely affected in June when Fisheries and Oceans Canada closed just less than 60 per cent of fisheries due to collapsing salmon stock. Additionally, after a poor return of steelhead salmon this summer, the Skeena watershed was closed off to recreational fishing, on Oct 12.
“Alaska has expressed concerns about the management of our shared watersheds — and there are concerns about the management of our shared fisheries coming from B.C. First Nations and others,” Bachrach said.
A fishery is the geographic area of the ocean where commercial harvesters are allowed to harvest fish and other marine resources.
“We need new approaches and that means political leadership … namely sowing the seeds of a conversation about new approaches,” Bachrach said.
In the U.S., it is at the state level of government that manages fisheries while in Canada it is the federal government, under Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The goal of the trip was to establish a conversation between all levels of government under one roof for the future stewardship of the watersheds and salmon along the border, Bachrach said. He met with Alaskan congressmen Don Young, senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, among others.
“We’re still in the early stages of talking about what shape that conversation could take, but our respective teams are in contact and I’m looking forward to seeing the next steps,” the MP said.
Right now, he’s hoping his team will be able to engage with their counterparts prior to the next fishing season before the salmon return, in the summer and fall.
“It’s a year-round discussion. We don’t have a specific timeline, but it’s a priority for me heading into next parliament … It’s something I will be working on in a concrete way,” Bachrach said.
Norman Galimski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View