Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board (SEHAB) Roundtable
Date: January 29, 2011
Area: Central Vancouver Island
Representative: Jack Minard
Community Advisor: Dave Davies
Again, land use issues dominate the concerns in the South Coast region. A proposed coal mine, development pressures, private forest logging and agricultural inputs are the major land use issues that are, or are likely to, affect habitat and water quality in the short term. The stewardship and enhancement community feel they get great “lip service” from government and agencies but when the time comes to stand up and actually protect or, at least, make harming an ecosystem more difficult, they back off, usually based on economic arguments. Projects are moved forward at the detriment of the resource itself or the environmental drivers that support it.
A rumoured cut to SEP further exacerbates community’s frustration. The question is always the same; “How can the Federal Government not understand the need for SEP to fulfill their mandate on the West Coast?” and “How can they not see the cost effectiveness of the program due to the tens of thousands of dedicated and hardworking volunteers?”
As a further slap in the face these volunteers now have to become licensed aquaculture facilities and sign off on site and activity liabilities even though DFO owns the facilities and these are DFO programs only supported by the community.
The new Pacific Salmon Foundation has introduced new requirements in the application and reporting forms. There are some rumblings through the community about these causing more bureaucracy and time to complete but we do not have any specific suggestions at this point.
Returns in the region were mixed this year but generally as follows:
Pinks – low
Chum – very low
Coho – stronger than the last decade but still only a fraction of historical
Sockeye – incredible
Chinook – low
The community is expressing a distinct lack of support for their efforts both in cuts to SEP funding and cuts to stock assessments. The Wild Salmon Policy has not been well received as it has not been followed up well. Volunteers feel frustrated with a lack of information coupled with an understanding that the WSP is the new way the Department is doing business. If the WSP is leading wild salmon management in BC why are we not engaged as volunteers and being kept up to the moment with direction and implementation goals and achievements?
The partnership that moved the capping of the abandoned copper mine on Mt Washington towards completion has been nominated for a “Premier’s Innovation and Excellence Award” under the “Partnership” category. The water quality improvements since the capping was mostly completed in 2010 are significant. The Tsolum River is now within target levels and can support aquatic life again.
The proposed Raven Coalmine occupies many volunteers time and energy from Nanaimo to Port Alberni and north to Campbell River attempting to stay on top of understanding and disseminating the repercussions of this proposal. More information at: http://www.coalwatch.ca/raven-underground-coal-project
In the Comox Valley there are now three groups formed around the Courtenay River Estuary. One is a resurrected government initiative (Courtenay River Estuary Management plan (CREMP)) the second has grown out of a 2008 symposium on the estuary organized by CV Project Watershed Society. This initiative is highly organized and can be found at: http://keepingitliving.ca/. The third group is a committee of the Keeping it Living group and is formed to investigate two forms of land acquisition/access. One is to recreate braided channels across the floodplain (currently agricultural land) to offer separation between seals and salmonids and the second to create a minimum thirty metre buffer with public access from Comox to Royston.
February 3, 2011