If we are going to save the cannery we need to be clear about why we are about to lose it.
The Skeena salmon returns are not way down. The ocean fishery is way down. Those are two very different things.
Recently we had a million sockeye to harvest and they went to waste. This year again, hundreds of thousands of fish were wasted.
Canfisco’s Rob Morley gave us the key to saving the cannery: “reduced access from the DFO cutting back the exploitation rate on some of these fisheries and shifting more of the volume to fisheries further up the river.”
If we are to win this and save Prince Rupert’s economy there needs to be a balance between the ocean fishery and the upriver fishery.
We have a chance of winning this with the new government. Not only has the near total shift of the fishery upriver devastated our economy, it has devastated the regional economy. It takes jobs away from the coast but it does not create anywhere near the same number of jobs inland. A move to upriver fisheries drastically reduces the quality of the fish caught so that the total amount of jobs and gross value is reduced to a small fraction of ocean-caught fish, even on years of big returns.
The Cohen Commission recommended reviewing this policy and perhaps if we revisited it we would find solutions with broad regional support.
If Canfisco was assured that DFO would from now on balance fisheries between ocean and upriver, they might keep the cannery open, boost the whole regional economy and feed more people fantastic delicious nutritious ocean caught Skeena salmon (some of the best in the world).