Deborah Giles, Research Scientist with the UW Center for Conservation Biology, was quoted in a Seattle Times article on Canada's announcement of big cuts to commercial fishing to protect wild salmon that Washington's orcas eat.
Canada is slashing and closing commercial coastal fishing on more than 100 salmon stocks and permanently downsizing the fleet through voluntary license buybacks in an urgent effort to protect wild salmon from extinction.
Stating Pacific salmon are in long-term decline with many runs on the verge of collapse, Bernadette Jordan, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced Tuesday that bold action is needed now to stabilize and rebuild stocks before it is too late.
Salmon managers on the U.S. side of the border also are taking steps in an effort to respond to dwindling salmon stocks upon which endangered southern resident orcas rely, including increasing funding to certain hatcheries to increase production.
Some of the Canadian reductions announced in a video news conference Tuesday went into effect immediately. The cutbacks are part of a broader $647 million initiative to save wild salmon, including habitat improvements and a reconsideration of Canada’s aquaculture industry in B.C. waters.
The closures and reductions affect commercial salmon fisheries and First Nations communal commercial fisheries.
The need is clear. The last six years have been among the warmest recorded on Earth, and forest fires in B.C. in 2017 and 2018 burned a record number of acres. All of these are further pushing salmon toward extinction, including Chinook, the most prized by people and wildlife alike.
Some of the closures could benefit southern resident killer whales, such as the closure of the Chinook fishery in the Thompson, the largest tributary of the Fraser River flowing through south-central B.C.
In the U.S., orca specialist Deborah Giles has extensively researched the consequences of nutrition stress on the southern residents through her research with the University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology.
“These fish don’t abide by international borders and neither do killer whales. This is exactly what needs to be happening. Canada is taking bold steps,” Giles said.
If anything, more is needed, she added, such as curtailing the sport and commercial fishery for Chinook on the west side of Vancouver Island.
“We need to change when, where and how we fish to protect these fish that are accidentally being caught.”
Read the full article in The Seattle Times.