Support the commercial fishing fleet

Pink salmon have made Prince Rupert and the outlying communities hum.


Pink salmon have made Prince Rupert and the outlying communities hum.

Seine crews and shoreworkers worked non-stop for seven weeks since July 8, harvesting and processing pinks from Area 3 (Nass area) and Area 6 (near Hartley Bay).  The Union estimates that the combined payroll from the Port Edward, Prince Rupert and Lax Kw’alaams plants reached $2 million EACH pay period. This has meant that over the summer, $6 million from shoreworker wages alone have been pumped into our economy. Seine earnings of $6 million are on top of this.

Seven million pink salmon have been harvested. Unavoidably there has been a tiny (2.4 per cent) bycatch of 167,000 non-target salmon.  The industry is proud to say that the great majority of this bycatch is released alive.

Sadly, there are those who would take this huge success story and, instead, attack the commercial fishers for having any bycatch mortality at all. An anti-commercial fishing group has taken a video of the seine fleet with a narration that claims that the bycatch is being thrown back dead – which is clearly not true. The video shows thousands of pink salmon being brailed on board the boats, while deckhands struggle to identify and sort out a small handful of salmon bycatch. A few minutes on board, then most are released alive and swim away. If you watch the video – turn off the anti-fishermen commentary and just watch the picture.  Only a small number of bycatch die. Not enough to hurt any individual salmon run, (none of which are ‘endangered’ as the video wrongly states). The rest of the bycatch swims away, as can be clearly seen.

Have a look at these so-called ‘environmental’ organizations that made the video and wrote the “Open letter to Pattison Group” See how many of them are made up of self-interested people who would benefit if the commercial fleet ceased to exist. Most were steelhead guides or worked for steelhead organizations. Others make money publishing articles saying bears starve because they don’t eat pink salmon. These so-called ‘environmentalists’ demand greater fishing restrictions and increased independent monitoring for the commercial fleets.  Interestingly, these same groups support other fisheries which have no monitoring, at all.

To counter their negative campaign, please write to the Minister of Fisheries supporting our responsible, highly monitored commercial fleets and their benefits to our small north coast communities.

Joy Thorkelson