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Fisheries Minister Responds to e-Petition

E-petition to save Thompson steelhead an overnight success

Fisheries Minister is compelled to formally respond to steelhead e-petition

NEWS RELEASE December 18, 2017 Steelhead Society of British Columbia

An e-petition demanding tough federal action to save collapsing steelhead populations in the upper Fraser River system is an immediate success, the Steelhead Society of British Columbia announced Monday.

The e-petition attracted 500 signatures — the minimum threshold for compelling a formal response by the Trudeau government — less than 24 hours after posting to Canada’s Parliamentary website on Friday December 15, 2017. Titled “e-1416 (Fishing Industry)” the e-petition will be online and available for signing until April 14, 2018. By Monday morning, 939 Canadians had signed it.

“We’re asking everyone who supports conservation principles to take five minutes to please read and sign the e-petition,” SSBC President Brian Braidwood said. “This is an important step toward persuading Dominic Leblanc, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, of the urgency for effective action to stop further decimation Thompson River and Chilcotin River steelhead.”

The e-petition was initiated by SSBC Director Poul Bech after less than 200 steelhead returned this autumn to the sprawling Thompson River, largest tributary of the Fraser, compared to runs numbering in the thousands in decades past. Less than 50 steelhead returned to the Chilcotin. It is sponsored by Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly.

The e-petition calls on the Fisheries Minister “to suspend all gill net and purse seine chum salmon fisheries in the Fraser River and approach areas including Johnstone Strait during the annual Interior Fraser River Steelhead migration in the months of September, October and November; and to work with gill net and purse seine fishers to establish alternative, sustainable, fully selective and fully monitored fisheries practices during the annual Interior Fraser River steelhead migration. “

The e-petition is the latest among several petitions calling for changes to the government’s approach to management of Interior Fraser steelhead. An online petition launched in November that calls for the banning of gill nets and other non-selective fishing methods has gathered over 49,000 signatures from the international conservation community.

Last week, the Society revealed that iconic Canadian actor William Shatner had sent a letter to Leblanc and three BC provincial cabinet ministers, calling for “immediate action” to address the collapse.

Also last week, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) announced that it has launched an emergency assessment of Interior Fraser system steelhead. COSEWIC chair Eric Taylor told Canadian Press that depending on the results of the assessment; those steelhead runs could be listed as endangered species. Taylor also held out the possibility that effect conservation measures could help the populations recover.

Formed in 1970 by a group of dedicated steelhead anglers concerned about the state of wild steelhead stocks and the wild rivers of British Columbia, the Steelhead Society of BC is a charitable non-profit river conservation organization. The Society has evolved to advocate for the health of all wild salmonids and wild rivers in British Columbia.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION Brian Braidwood, President, SSBC 604-626-7085

Cody Sojka, Director, SSBC 778-241-2837

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