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B.C. First Nations, groups, launch coalition to save salmon

Aim to bring groups together to collaborate on salmon recovery strategy
An adult Chinook salmon swimming in Ship Creek, Anchorage. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

A new coalition, Save Our Salmon (SOS), formed to stop salmon extinction by working collaboratively toward a solution, officially launched on Feb. 6.

“Extinction is not an option,” Jordan Point, executive director at First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C. and spokesperson for SOS said.

Pacific salmon are integral to First Nations’ identity, Point said.

“It’s part of their very existence and it means so many things to First Nations in B.C.”

British Columbia’s salmon populations have declined by 90 per cent since the 1970s, SOS stated.

The First Nations Leadership Council commissioned the First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C. to look into a strategy to respond to this decline.

However, federal and provincial governments were each already working on their own Pacific salmon strategies and the fisheries council did not want to work on another strategy in isolation.

“We started reaching out to partners,” Point said.

“Everybody agreed and thought, based on economies of scale and efficiencies, it would probably be better for everybody to be working together as opposed to having separate strategies.”

It was from this feedback that SOS was born.

“The problem is big enough that we think there’s room for everyone at the table,” Point said.

Currently, four organizations have signed on to be part of the coalition: the First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C., Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, Upper Fraser Fisheries Alliance and the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Three of the groups are First Nations organizations and the fourth, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, has an interest in expanding its partnership with First Nations, Point said.

The coalition plans to work concurrently with governments, respecting that they have a different focus due to their mandates.

Part of the coalition’s purpose is to properly position First Nations at the metaphorical table in a meaningful way. In the spirit of UNDRIP and B.C.’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), they want to empower First Nations to participate in the development of salmon restoration strategies.

Another component of their mandate is to educate the public about the salmon decline.

“I don’t know that every Joe Public in B.C. and Canada are fully aware that there’s this massive decline in Pacific salmon,” he said.

To get involved in the SOS coalition’s work and learn more about the state of the salmon, people can visit their website