In 2008, the Wild Salmon Advisory Council released a report about the future of Pacific salmon in British Columbia.
In many respects it was redux of salmon strategies of the past. We updated the information and re-engaged the stakeholders and what we learned is that most of profit in fisheries in British Columbia goes to corporations not to the fishers and their communities.
In my two-minute statement I addressed this issue and the Fisheries for Communities initiative.
Last night MLAs had the privilege to taste the incredible bounty of our oceans, food that has sustained coastal communities and people since time immemorial. The event was hosted by Fisheries for Communities. They continue to ask the same question we asked in our wild salmon report a few years back: how can we ensure that the people who fish the waters benefit from the wealth of the ocean, like they once did?
The privatization of our fisheries has had devastating consequences. Decisions made in foreign boardrooms and decisions made in boardrooms here in Vancouver net huge wealth for few, while leaving the fishers in the communities with little.
Last night former B.C. NDP Fisheries Minister Corky Evans gave a rousing sermon. He reminded us that our report on wild salmon is a repeat of reports from 30 years ago, yet today we are even less protective of the commons and more protective of individual wealth and pursuits.
He highlighted how the prevailing philosophy is that fisheries and forests cannot be left to local people because they will overharvest, and only privatizing them will protect them. But it is only local people who look after resources, the resources they count on for survival. “Don’t leave here with regrets,” he said, “because you will stew over it for decades.”
The ocean still produces a bounty, and we have a responsibility to ensure that the fishers and their communities benefit from their work. The same goes for the forests, and the people and communities they support. For too long, we have allowed massive corporations to extract billions each quarter and send their lobbyists into these halls, cap in hand, claiming they’re poor — the same cycle for decades. Enough is enough.