Shifting salmon policy

Photo by Alex Harris.

Ecosystems are complex. They are communities of living organisms connected through interacting processes and features on the land, in water, and between the two. Yet BC’s antiquated environmental policy doesn’t reflect this. Colonial society governs ecosystems by siloing them into distinct ministries and resources instead of reflecting the interconnected nature of habitats that make them function in the living world. This “siloed decision making”is the root cause of many of the ecological challenges we face today.

Steelhead salmon underwater in a river.
Photo by Fernando Lessa.
Grizzly bear in a river with a salmon in its mouth.
Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Our policy goals

1. Manage fisheries for ecosystems

  • Set salmon harvest at levels that optimize the benefits of spawning salmon to watersheds and wildlife. 
  • Shift away from historic management paradigms that minimize the number of spawning salmon reaching rivers and maximize harvest (called Maximum Sustainable Yield). Move towards fisheries management that meets salmon spawning targets that are ecologically based, not harvest-based.
  • Shift harvest toward selective terminal fisheries (conducted in or near the rivers of origin) that respect the ‘place-based’ nature of salmon, and optimize the benefits to ecosystems, Indigenous cultures, and local communities.

    2. Implement ecological-based governance

    • Conservation planning and a commitment to sustainability that looks 7 generations ahead.
    • A “whole-of-government” approach that implements shared solutions by Indigenous, federal, provincial, and municipal governments to achieve salmon recovery from inland watersheds and rivers, to the open ocean.
    • Governance that honours Aboriginal rights and title, inherent Indigenous jurisdiction and law, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA). 
    • Sustainable funding strategies for watershed-scale restoration and planning.
      Fraser River Chum salmon settle on the rocks near the bottom under a shadow.
      Photo by April Bencze / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
      Two sockeye salmon swimming in a river.
      Photo by Fernando Lessa.

      3. Advance land-use policies that prioritize the health of wild salmon and biodiversity

      • Zoning that bolsters functioning watersheds and riparian habitat (i.e.protect natural features, limit impervious surfaces, reduce urban sprawl, adopt nature-based solutions).
      • Forestry policy that prioritizes salmon health by restricting clear-cutting in salmon watersheds, and incentivizes a sustainable, second or third-growth forest economy.
      • Climate adaptation policy that incentivizes nature-based solutions including natural shorelines, intact riparian areas, unrestricted floodplains, managed retreat, and use of rain-gardens in urban areas.

        Our recent reports

        Recent articles

        A collage of images and graphs from a published peer reviewed article on salmonid species diversity and bear health: Hakai, Raincoast, University of Victoria, and Spirit Bear Foundation logos at the bottom.

        Salmon species diversity predicts salmon consumption by terrestrial wildlife

        Research by scientists at Spirit Bear Research Foundation, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, and the University of Victoria, led by Christina Service, shows that salmon species diversity – the number of spawning salmon species available – is far more important and positively related to salmon consumption in coastal black bears than biomass abundance…
        FACETS, Canadian Science Publishing, Patagonia Provisions, University of Montana and Raincoast: salmon research.

        Criteria for a good catch: A conceptual framework to guide sourcing of sustainable salmon fisheries

        The proposed new framework for identifying sustainably harvested salmon suggests that individual retailers develop criteria (or adopt others) that comply with this place-based foundation. Patagonia Provisions is one retailer requesting this high standard of certification because their customers want higher standards than are currently available…
        Figures from a research paper an assessing conservation progress in British Columbia

        Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy: an assessment of conservation progress in British Columbia

        This paper, lead by scientists at Simon Fraser University and co-authored by two Raincoast biologists, finds that Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy has failed to improve the conservation of Pacific salmon since its adoption in 2005…
        Infographic with stylized bear and salmon, explaining that as salmon runs decrease, human-bear conflicts increase.

        The ecology of conflict

        New study from Raincoast and partners finds that when salmon abundance is low, human conflict with bears increases.
        Pacific salmon swimming underwater along a creek bed.

        Conservation concerns for DFO’s 2016 salmon fishing plan

        BC wild salmon conservation groups submit concerns to DFO for 2016 fishing plan.
        Salmon floating in a stream

        Time-delayed subsidies: Interspecies population effects in salmon

        New study from SFU and Raincoast shows the benefits from higher numbers of spawning pink and chum salmon on coho…