A Recent Press Release from the BC Wilderness Tourism Association
The Dept of Fisheries & Oceans numbers are in: Pink salmon returns to the Broughton Archipelago and Knight Inlet (east of Port Hardy and Port McNeill) are at record lows - worse than the collapse of pink stocks in 2002, when the fish farms were forced to fallow (temporarily close).
The salmon situation is starting to wreak havoc on nature based tourism located in the area. The decrease in pink salmon will have repercussions up and down the food chain whether on land or at sea.
Howard Pattinson, owner of Tide Rip Tours, a grizzly bear viewing business based out of Telegraph Cove, has observed grizzly bears unable to find salmon an important source of protein and trying to prepare for hibernation feeding only on berries and grass. “Many females will not find enough to eat and will abort their fertilized embryos. Adult males have also been known to eat young cubs when starving; and cubs that can’t find food this fall won’t make it through the winter” said Pattinson.
Donna and Bill Mackay, owners of Mackay Whale Watching out of Port McNeill, have been on the forefront of salmon and orca habitat protection for many years. They have observed that orcas are not socializing as much between pods due to their preoccupation with searching for food. Mr. Mackay noted, “This year only 41% of the total northern resident population of orcas have made an appearance in the Queen Charlotte and Johnstone Straits down from almost 100% which is from our 30 year data set.”
Dean Wyatt, owner of Knight Inlet Lodge located in Glendale Cove, is concerned that whole coastal valleys are losing wildlife due to the lack of salmon. “If the wildlife go, then so does the $1.4 billion nature based tourism industry” said Wyatt.
The Wilderness Tourism Association (WTA) is calling upon the fish farm industry and government to take action now in order to save the 2009 outrun. They are seeking immediate commitments to move farms off key salmon migratory routes and the investment in attainable closed containment technologies.