British Columbia

B.C. Green MLA proposes dedicated government entity to streamline wild salmon policy

With British Columbia expecting another year of low salmon runs, one politician says a new government entity should be created specifically to protect the fish.

Currently, responsibility for salmon falls between 6 provincial ministries and 1 federal department

MLA Adam Olsen says a more coordinated approach is needed to protect and work with salmon. (CBC)

With British Columbia expecting another year of low salmon runs, one politician says a new government entity should be created specifically to protect the fish.

Adam Olsen, B.C. Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, proposed the idea of a "wild salmon secretariat or commissioner­" to Premier John Horgan during last week's question period.

"We found that, frankly, there is no coordinated approach for wild salmon," Olsen told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition.

Right now, half a dozen entities ranging from the Ministry of the Environment to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is at the table when it comes to making decisions about fish and wild salmon.

Having one provincial body to coordinate salmon conservation goals and advisory responsibilities would lead to better policies and affect concrete change, Olsen said.

"The idea here is to streamline the provincial side of this so we can communicate a consistent message to the federal government," he said.

Not the first time

Nothing formal has been written yet, but Olsen thinks the NDP government might be open to the idea.

"This isn't foreign to the B.C. NDP," he said.

In the late 1990s, a previous NDP government created Fishery Renewal B.C., a Crown corporation, to fill a role similar to the one Olsen is proposing. That entity was later dissolved by the B.C. Liberals.

There was also the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, which worked federally from 1999 to 2008.

"Our goal is to restore salmon stocks to healthy levels," Olsen said. "I know that British Columbians have a very close relationship with the salmon, it's our official provincial fish."

During the question period when the proposal was brought up, Horgan said he appreciates Olsen's passion and that the government will continuing striving to protect B.C. salmon.

He did not comment on whether the proposal for a salmon secretariat is being considered.   

With files from The Early Edition

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