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Advocates sound alarm on unfolding disaster in B.C. salmon fishing industry

British Columbia

B.C. is seeing its worst commercial fishing season in 50 years.

B.C. is seeing its worst commercial fishing season in 50 years

The Canadian Press ·

A salmon is placed in a vessel to be lifted by a helicopter and transported up the Fraser River past a massive rock slide near Big Bar, west of Clinton, B.C., on Wednesday July 24, 2019. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

First Nations and union leaders say there is a desperate need for relief for commercial salmon fishermen on British Columbia’s coast.

Advocates say the federal and provincial governments need to step in to help fishermen through the worst commercial fishing season in 50 years, as runs have plummeted for all species and in all regions.

Joy Thorkelson, president of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union, says at least 2,500 people have been affected by the downturn.

Bob Chamberlain, a former vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, says the government needs to come up with diverse solutions since global warming is an added stressor for salmon.

John Helin, former gillnetter and current mayor of Lax Kw’alaams, says the lack of salmon has put pressure on other species of fish and there’s been a decline in their numbers.

A statement from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says the government understands and empathizes with the economic impacts of the declining salmon returns.

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