Families in B.C. that depend for their livelihoods on Skeena steelhead are being slammed by abysmally low returns and Skeena MP Taylor Bachrach isn’t sure the Liberal government “cares.”
The NDP representative went on the attack this week against federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Minister in the House of Commons.
“Last year saw the lowest return of Skeena River steelhead on record,” Bachrach said, referencing the fact that Tyee Test Fishery returns were levels not seen in 66 years.
“The vibrant steelhead industry supports dozens of family owned tourism businesses that were hard hit by the pandemic,” he said. “Now livelihoods are on the line but I’m not sure that this government cares.”
“We need action but instead this minister seems content with business as usual,” he added. “How is her approach to Skeena River steelhead going to be different than the failed approach of previous seasons?”
Murray was unfazed by Bachrach’s offensive, replying that “the conservation of our fish stocks is in everyone’s interests and is a high priority for me and so is the ability of recreational and commercial fishers to fish.”
She defended the Liberal government’s decision to close the steelhead fishery last year, as well as bringing in bait bans for the Skeena and its tributaries.
“We make our decisions based on science,” Murray said. “The interests of the harvesters are the ones I hold at heart and the need to conserve and rebuild an abundance of diverse fish stocks.”
Alex Bussman, the owner and operator of Oscar’s Source for Adventure in Smithers, said last year that with COVID and border closures his business is on the line.
“And then the low fish numbers, it’s just kind of the perfect storm,” he told the Terrace Standard.
“How do we come up with a plan… that gives everybody a little bit of certainty?”