My favourite fish are not doing well these days so I thought I might be able to count on you for a gift or two to make things better. I don’t want to be greedy or unrealistic here so I’m trying to make a list of things that are possible for you to deliver. Please give these some careful consideration and see if you can find one or two of these in your bag of Christmas goodies.
- A provincial government that cares about a fish that is a significant part of the reputation of British Columbia as a world class fishing destination. Perhaps you could get the people now in power to think of steelhead in the same context as grizzly bears and orcas. It would help to whisper in the ear of our elected representatives that they need to restore fisheries management in a recognizable unit that taxpayers can rebuild relationships with after years of neglect by a previous government.
- Some reasonable funding to go along with that renewed identity. Fisheries staff deserve to be adequately resourced to do what is expected of them. Leave a note on the Premier’s hearth. He needs to stand up for his people and give them a reason to want to show up at their work place each morning and be proud of what they do on behalf of the people who elected him.
- A federal government that delivers something other than lip service to its commitments to conservation and precautionary management. Perhaps another reminder – we have a conservation crisis with a few internationally renowned steelhead stocks, not the least of them the Thompson’s. How about a message nudging Ministers Dominic LeBlanc and Katherine McKenna to list those fish as endangered? You could also remind them they need to do something about all those First Nations nets competing for the last one that manages to escape the commercial net gauntlet that precedes them. Conservation means everyone, doesn’t it?
- A provincial government that isn’t afraid to stand up to its federal counterparts when conservation concerns for steelhead are firmly in view. If the province could make the logical choice for its voice to be heard through the Minister responsible for steelhead management rather than the Minister responsible for marketing and promoting farmed Atlantic salmon, it would be a giant leap forward. While you’re at that, perhaps remind that same Minister we will long remember that she is an integral part of supporting that chum roe fishery that now constitutes the single greatest threat to those iconic Thompson river steelhead.
- One last note to our decision makers would be good. Please remind them that diminishing supplies of fish and steadily increasing demand is a bad combination. Blank cheques to the First Nations of British Columbia to harvest fish stocks that are no longer healthy enough to sustain the levels of effort and technology directed at them won’t work for long. Those constitutional rights ring hollow when there are no fish.
Thank you for remembering steelhead Santa.