VANCOUVER, Jan. 28, 2020 /CNW/ - Unifor has released a new report that says artificially low catch limits over the past 25 years pushed the West Coast salmon fishing industry to the brink, leaving it unable to cope with the 2019 crisis.
"The federal government created a commercial fishing economy so precarious that when the salmon collapsed this year, the industry went with it," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "Commercial salmon fishing may never recover."
The report shows that, until 2019, the overall number of salmon returning to BC remained stable for 63 years, yet the commercial fishing catch limits set by the federal government declined sharply in the mid-1990s without justification. Artificially low limits together with dropping landed value combined to undermine the livelihoods of the entire commercial fishing fleet on British Columbia's coast.
"Help from the federal government is beyond urgent," says Joy Thorkelson, president of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union (UFAWU)-Unifor. "Hundreds of fish harvesters are facing financial ruin after decades of fisheries regulation mismanagement."
UFAWU-Unifor says climate change is likely to blame for the 2019 West Coast salmon fishery collapse, during which catches were eight per cent of the 20-year average. The union is calling for federal government disaster relief to help workers and their families. Unifor is also asking the government to assist industry with developing a climate change adaptation plan.
The report uses data from Greg Ruggerone's study Numbers and Biomass of Natural‐ and Hatchery‐Origin Pink Salmon, Chum Salmon, and Sockeye Salmon in the North Pacific Ocean, 1925–2015.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
For further information: For media inquiries please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at [email protected] or 778-903-6549 (cell).