[This story originally appeared on The North Coast Review, a blog based in Prince Rupert that contains “items of interest to those living on the North Coast of BC.”]
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice spoke of the importance of salmon to coastal communities this week, whether it be part of the commercial industry or of historical importance to First Nations.
Rice was participating in debate over a Private Members’ Motion sponsored by MLA Fin Donnelly, the Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Aquaculture.
“Commercial fishermen have unique skills, experience, and valuable access to boats and gear which can be beneficial to their communities,” she said.
Rice also made note of the cultural significance of wild salmon to the First Nations of the coast.
“Gifting and trading of seafood occurs among commercial fishermen in various ways, from sharing fish there is no market for, to being paid by their First Nations band to catch food, social and ceremonial fish for their whole community.”
The North Coast MLA also outlined the impact of recent troubles for the industry as well as some of the shared initiatives that the provincial government has taken on with the Federal government, industry stakeholders and First Nations.
“The B.C. government knows that recent salmon closures have impacted Indigenous, commercial and recreational fishers and the communities that depend on them,” she said. “And we share the disappointment of the successive years of low productivity and poor returns that have led us to this point. For the sake of all of those who depend on wild salmon, we must focus our efforts on restoring salmon habitat, increasing abundance and long-term sustainability of the fisheries.”
Rice said that “the province is committed to working with all partners to help restore wild salmon stocks while developing sustainable wild fisheries and supporting communities around B.C. and on our coast. We all want to support the health of wild fisheries, as well as the employment and economic activity the B.C. seafood sector contributes to our province.”
Rice was participating in the Legislature through her home constituency in Prince Rupert.