BC’s marine resources and the communities tied to them are a vital part of the province and therefore an important part of the 2020 election. Fisheries for Communities, a network of Indigenous and non-Indigenous fish harvesters, small businesses, fishmongers, chefs, restaurateurs, fishing families, and community organizations, including TBuck, wanted to ensure that the importance of our marine resources was not a lost topic during the 2020 BC election. So FFC asked the candidates, would they support BC coastal communities, and seafood harvesters?
FFC sent a survey to all confirmed 2020 BC MLA candidates, a total of 48 MLA candidates responded to survey questions, and party statements were given by the NDP, BC Liberal, and Green party. All respondents voiced support for BC coastal communities, BC seafood management, implementation of cultural and economic aspects of Wild Salmon Advisory Council Recommendations, and supported including BC seafood as an aspect of our province’s food security programming.
FFC, and TBuck are hopeful that this response will translate into action. Looking forward we need to see more engagement from our provincial representatives. A great deal of reform is needed within BC fisheries to ensure the security of small scale operations and communities that depend on access to fishing along their coast.
Below are the statements received from the BC Green, Liberal, and NDP parties.
Look here for the full survey results and see what candidates in your riding had to say.
BC Green Party:
"Thank you for your inquiry into the B.C. Greens position on working for coastal communities and the fisheries they depend upon. We hold fisheries and wild salmon at the heart of our work; through the Confidence and Supply Agreement of the last government, the B.C. Greens were able to hold government to account for the issues facing wild salmon and steelhead in B.C. Standing up for wild salmon has been a defining mission for the B.C. Green caucus during the minority government. Over the course of the last government term, MLA Adam Olsen dedicated a large portion of his work in the Legislature to salmon policy. He questioned every ministry about their fisheries policies and learned that six Ministries all have a “lead role” in managing salmon and steelhead, in addition to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. From a provincial perspective, we urgently need better coordination and accountability. We pushed for the creation of the Wild Salmon Advisory Council, the $142 million Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, and B.C.’s $5 million contribution to the Pacific Salmon Foundation, as well as supporting the approval of nearly $65 million in habitat restoration, conservation, and clean up funding. We will continue to push for enhancing funding to conservation efforts, creating dedicated endangered species legislation, and adopting holistic natural resource management practices that address economic, social, and environmental values in tandem. We need 2 Fisheries for Communities 2020 MLA Survey to see far more regulatory and financial support to aid in the creation of a closed-containment land based fish farm sector. Likewise, we would consult on alternate aquaculture practices that are not polluting, such as the farming of food-grade seaweed, to create new and sustainable employment opportunities. For the recovery of wild salmon, the B.C. Greens would move urgently to implement all of the Cohen Commission recommendations, as well as the Wild Salmon Advisory Council recommendations. There have been countless studies on what we should do to help wild salmon - what is missing is the political will to action those solutions. We must act urgently and ambitiously to save B.C.’s salmon. As part of our platform released last week, we are dedicated to protecting and restoring B.C.'s wild fish populations and support the use of sustainable selective fishing methods. The B.C. Greens strive to make a positive impact by targeting the root cause of systemic environmental problems, recognizing the interconnectedness of issues facing water and our coastal communities from climate-related risks, to development, to decades of poor management decisions. In the face of this we need to take an integrated approach that puts the security of watersheds at the center. Other related aspects of our platform on water sustainability include creating a dedicated Watershed Security Fund that will create sustainable jobs in communities across BC in watershed restoration, monitoring, technology, training, and education; conducting comprehensive watershed planning in conjunction with First Nations, communities, government agencies, stewardship organizations and industry and, including watersheds as part of a landscape-level ecosystem-based management approach to development; implementing the Water Sustainability Act to secure the environmental flows needed to sustain healthy and functioning rivers, lakes and watersheds; working with local governments, school districts and other stakeholders to upgrade municipal infrastructure and replace household pipes through grants and incentives; and exploring science-based solutions to reduce water acidity. Thank you for your commitment to our coastal communities."
BC Liberal Party:
"Dear Members of Fisheries for Communities, On behalf of all BC Liberal candidates, please accept the following statement in response to your 2020 provincial election questionnaire: As BC Liberals, we know we must act to enhance fish and wildlife populations, for the benefit of all British Columbians and especially those in coastal communities that depends on our coastal environment for jobs and recreation. Ensuring our coastal communities are resilient is key to rebuilding B.C. and restoring confidence. B.C. has an enviable reputation as a leader in the production and processing of a wide range of safe, high quality seafood products. Our seafood is enjoyed locally and worldwide. We support the growth of our province’s sustainable seafood sector and consider the health of wild fisheries an important priority. We are committed to taking a leading role in protecting our coastal resources while managing responsible resource development. This includes taking action on salmon and steelhead conservation in order to protect these vital and iconic species. As our full platform is still pending release, we look forward to sharing more with British Columbians over the coming days. Thank you, BC Liberal Candidates"
BC NDP Party:
"Starting in 2018, the BC NDP funded a network of local food hubs across the province that gave local farmers, fishers and food producers the ability to value-add their products and contribute to the local food economy. The BC NDP provided $750,000 to the community of Port Alberni to create one such 3 Fisheries for Communities 2020 MLA Survey hub, focused on local seafood and foraging. The “Sea to Forest” food hub opened in the Summer of 2020. Part of the BC NDP’s plan for economic recovery after the pandemic includes more than $25 million towards more food hubs, investing in local food processing capacity and funding innovative technology for more sustainable practices. If re-elected a BC NDP government will continue to work with the federal government to develop new strategies that: -Protect and revitalize BC’s salmon populations by building on the successful Broughton process and supporting innovation in fish hatcheries. -Step up protection of fish habitat through our biodiversity strategy. -Ensure BC processing of BC-caught fish. We will also act to better protect marine life and habitats while enhancing coastal economies through a new provincial coastal strategy, developed in partnership with First Nations, business, environmental groups, and federal and local governments. We hope you will join this process."