Community volunteers plant the banks of Hydro Hill West Creek with native vegetation and log placements to provide shade and cover for Pacific salmon habitat near Ucluelet in the spring of 2019. The project is partly funded through the $143-million Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, which the province wants Ottawa to double. (Photo supplied by Rob Crenson)

Community volunteers plant the banks of Hydro Hill West Creek with native vegetation and log placements to provide shade and cover for Pacific salmon habitat near Ucluelet in the spring of 2019. The project is partly funded through the $143-million Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, which the province wants Ottawa to double. (Photo supplied by Rob Crenson)

B.C. government makes big commitments to fish and habitat conservation

Province’s first parliamentary secretary for fisheries and aquaculture given strong mandates

The B.C. NDP is sending strong signals fisheries management and habitat conservation will play a bigger role in government decisions.

Fishing groups and conservation advocates pushing for a new, dedicated provincial ministry to fisheries to tackle a myriad of issues, notably the worst salmon returns on record, expressed some disappointment when Premier John Horgan unveiled his new cabinet last week without the announcement of a new ministry, but not without praising the government for some positive steps forward.

Chief among them is the newly named ministry of agriculture, food and fisheries (formally just agriculture), a symbolic but important action that comes with the creation of a parliamentary secretary for fisheries and aquaculture, Fin Donnelly. The former federal Member of Parliament has a track record for introducing bills and forming non-partisan alliances aimed at protecting ocean health.

READ MORE: Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

“He’s a very capable person for the new role in B.C.,” Aaron Hill, executive director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society said. “The important thing is the ministry be given the latitude and resources they need to do their job. Wild salmon management in this province has been hampered for a long time because of the siloing between ministries. The creation of a new ministry probably wouldn’t solve that, but a parliamentary secretary role could be great, as long as Donnelly makes a point of breaking through.”

That is especially crucial for fulfilling the mandate of working closely with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on new mandates to step up protection of fish habitat through a new biodiversity strategy and the creation of a a Watershed Security Strategy.

Donnelly also has a mandate to support the new Minister of State for Lands and Natural Resources, Nathan Cullen, to develop a new provincial coastal strategy that better protects marine habitat while growing coastal economies.

Lastly, the ministry has also been asked to maintain its work with the federal government to develop new strategies to revitalize B.C.’s wild salmon populations, but also push to double the five-year, $143-million Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, split 30 per cent and 70 per cent by the provincial and federal governments respectively.

READ MORE: You want me to eat what? A look at some of B.C.’s most exotic seafoods



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Fish

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Benvoulin Church in Kelowna. (Image: Prime Light Media)
UPDATE: Council approves designation for Kelowna’s Benvoulin Heritage Park

Benvoulin Heritage Park will be protected in perpetuity by a city bylaw

Vernon-born Justin J. Moore’s music video for Someone Who Loved You Can captures Kelowna’s city vibe. (Justin J. Moore - YouTube)
WATCH: ‘hyper-talented’ team behind Okanagan-centric music video

New Justin J. Moore music video shot in Kelowna, Armstrong with team of 20-somethings

Fire crews on scene of hot tub blaze. Michael Rodriguez, Kelowna Capital News.
Workers on concrete pump assist homeowner battling hot tub fire in Black Mountain

Home owners and neighbours fought the flames with a garden hose

Heather Lucier, a pastor at Kelowna Harvest Fellowship, speaks to an RCMP officer outside of Harvest Ministries on Sunday, Jan. 10. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna church fined a second time for violating public health order

Harvest Ministries in Kelowna has previously said they will fight the tickets in court

Student Shelby Dunn works on masonry job. (Contributed)
The pathway to trades careers for Central Okanagan students

School district dual credit program beneficial to students, employers

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

An Abbotsford man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 3 on Monday, Jan. 18. (Black Press file photo)
Abbotsford man killed in Highway 3 crash near Hedley

Fatality was discovered by passing tow truck driver

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

This dog is going to the SPCA if its owner isn't found. (RDNO Dog Control photo)
Owners sought after dog ‘dumped’ near North Okanagan school

Pup is now either getting adopted or going to the SPCA

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read