Response to Announcement of Salmon Closures

PRINCE RUPERT, June 29, 2021 — Today, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced the closures of 79 salmon fisheries as part of phase two of the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI) — leaving UFAWU-Unifor worried about the future of commercial salmon harvesters.

“Today’s closure announcements are deeply concerning. The abruptness of the announcement, and lack of transparency for how these specific closures were decided, have blindsided harvesters,” UFAWU-Unifor Business Agent Emily Orr says.

“If harvesters are going to be squeezed out of salmon fisheries, the people who earn their livings from those fisheries need to be compensated.”

DFO’s other announcement of a Pacific Salmon Commercial Transition Program — which will see some harvesters compensated for their licenses — is a positive step forwards. 

However, the announcement of 79 closures will only cause more complications for those who wish to remain in the industry.

“While it’s widely agreed that a license retirement program is needed, it is only one part of what should be a multi-pronged approach to solving the issues in salmon fisheries,” Orr says.

“Pinniped reduction has to be part of the equation. We need habitat restoration and investments in hatcheries.”

On May 27, 2021, The Future Of B.C. Commercial Fishing Report was released by UFAWU-Unifor and ten other salmon harvester organizations. 

This report was the result of deep consultation with commercial salmon harvesters and contains recommendations outlining a clear path forward towards a viable industry.

Despite sharing this report with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, UFAWU-Unifor has seen a concerning lack of recognition of these recommendations by DFO. 

Harvesters are yet to see any meaningful consultation in regard to the decisions being made for their industry.

“What is DFO’s vision for the future of commercial salmon fisheries,” Orr says.

“We sincerely hope that DFO plans to address these equally critical components of managing salmon for a viable future for stocks, fisheries, and harvesters.”

UFAWU-Unifor representatives are available for comment. For more information please contact UFAWU-Unifor Communications Organizer Liam Hill-Allan at communications@ufawu.org.