Lack of political will

We need to ensure that our decision makers make the hard choices for long-term sustainability because once a fish population is seriously degraded, recovery is always long and not always possible.

Maintaining healthy and sustainable ecosystems and conserving and protecting fish populations should be the primary roles of DFO.  This means that management decisions, policies and department employees’ activities need to focus on protecting the environment and the ecosystems in which our fish and other aquatic species live.  Protecting the environment includes sustaining communities that have long depended on the bounty of our waters for jobs, food and a way of life.

DFO workers have identified declining fish stocks as a major problem.   These declines are a result of decreasing productivity of the aquatic ecosystems, pollution and overfishing. 

Productivity of the aquatic environments can be affected directly by decisions of elected officials to relax standards for industry or for a community seeking to dump waste into the environment.  Almost all pollutants dumped find its way into the aquatic environment.  The effects of pollution in a local area can be easily traced to such dumping.  A greater impact comes from the cumulative effects of dumping across all ecosystems over a long period of time.  These effects don’t show up right away and can show up years after the dumping has stopped.  A classic example of this long-term effect is climate change as a result of the introduction of green house gases into the atmosphere. 

Another impact on fish stocks is overfishing.  Overfishing is a result of the economic drive by industry or communities and can be made worse by elected officials who fail to develop policies that will ensure fishing takes place at a pace that allows for sustainable fish stocks.  In practice, policy decisions have been made to slow down harvest of one fish species but expand harvest of another which endangers both fish populations and other species. 

Sustainable management decisions require good science, research and political will to give weight to environmental issues, which means, at times, delivering bad news to communities and industry. 

We need to ensure that our decision makers make the hard choices for long-term sustainability because once a fish population is seriously degraded, recovery is always long and not always possible.

December 6, 2013 •
Justice Bruce Cohen demanded urgent government action to save wild salmon, instead, the situation has deteriorated.  We’ll have only ourselves to blame if a generation from now the Cohen Commission report lies forgotten in a dusty archive and there are no wild salmon left in BC for us to try and save. Read more at focusonline.ca.
April 8, 2012 •
Expect a pipeline or a road to be built soon over your favourite fishing spot.  As part of its effort to break down “regulatory barriers” to industrial projects, like pipelines, mining and oil sands, among others, the federal Conservative government plans to remove habitat protection from Section 35 of the Fisheries Act.  Many believe this change will be included in the implementation bill of the recent federal budget.
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