Wild salmon are as important to British Columbians as the French language is to Quebecers, a new opinion poll shows. Citizens want to see the government taking stronger action to protect wild salmon, including preserving local salmon runs and enforcing habitat protection laws even at the expense of economic growth.
The poll, commissioned by the Watershed Watch Salmon Society and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, revealed that 70% of the 806 British Columbians surveyed felt that wild salmon are as culturally important to the people of British Columbia as the French language is to the people of Quebec. Moreover, 86% felt that economic growth and development should not come at the expense of wild salmon habitat.
"The results clearly demonstrate how culturally important salmon are on Canada's west coast," said Greg Knox, Executive Director of SkeenaWild Conservation Trust. "People care so much about wild salmon in this province that half of us would pay higher taxes to protect their habitat."
We know pacific salmon numbers are in decline. They face numerous threats, not least climate change, over-fishing, habitat loss and unsustainable fish-farming practices. The poll is clear evidence that the public is wise to these threats and more: over 80% were concerned about habitat destruction, pollution and overfishing. They're also demanding action: a further 89% felt that laws meant to protect salmon habitat should be more strictly enforced.
The loss of wild salmon is potentially disastrous: they are key indicators of the health of the ecosystems we depend on and an important cultural and economic resource. We must ensure we limit the impact on salmon we control so they can continue to play their vital role in those ecosystems, spawning safely and supporting the numerous species which depend upon them—not just humans. Clearly, British Columbians are not only concerned, they are willing to do what it takes to preserve this valuable resource and Canadian icon.