I previously posted this information in the Fall/Winter of 2017/18. I wanted to re-share it to this new blog, as this matter is still worth becoming aware of, and BC's voice for enhancement and educational program funding still needs to be heard. Please inform your local MP's and ensure that programs get the funding they deserve for years to come.
Last year the Education Program within the Public Involvement Division of the Salmonid Enhancement Program, otherwise known as “SEP” (DFO, 2017) was placed on the chopping block and faced a potential budget cut. This proposed cut that directly affected Canadian students, costing Canada $400K annually would wipe out funding to initiatives like the “Stream To Sea” (DFO, 2016) environmental education program, “Salmonids in the Classroom” and many educational tools that are used around BC and Vancouver Island. These programs essentially help our citizens become more aware of the actions and reactions they have on our streams and oceans; which are the homes to salmon and countless important aquatic species.
Salmonids in the Classroom, otherwise known as the “Classroom Incubation Program” or “CIP” is the cornerstone
of Fisheries And Oceans Canada’s Stream to Sea, “S2C” education program. This is arguably the greatest and extremely effective S2C project and it requires the most resources and reaches the greatest numbers of youth. About 3,000 students in the target area from the Capital Regional District in School Districts 61 through to 64.
Last spring, 104 classrooms received custom-made incubators, which are subsidized through organizations like Pacific Salmon Foundation, and Goldstream Volunteer Salmon Hatchery and released over 19,000 fry into 16 local watersheds. This year there are 109 classrooms that have actively registered for this program to take place in their classroom and are extremely excited. There has been so much positive feedback from the students, parents and teachers who’ve been involved with this program over the years (dating back to 1989, when five classrooms received incubation units.) These teachers were devastated when they heard that budget cuts were being looked at, and that this program would be greatly affected and ultimately cease to exist.
In May 2017, all S2S Education Coordinators (DFO, 2017) received contract termination notices as of July 31, 2017. After an uproar in public efforts, reaching out to local MP’s and socially voicing concern surrounding this poor decision, the termination was reversed in Ottawa; two weeks after the notice was given.
As an angler, conservationist and salmon enthusiast myself, I made a conscious effort to raise awareness and reach out to many members of parliament and send letters to people in the outdoor industry. In one letter that I wrote and copied to Elizabeth May, I had stated “With respect, I do not intend to lecture you on the efficacy of the Community Involvement Program, but myself and many others would request a second look at this decision.” I was pleased to receive the following response back, in a timely fashion:
“Dear Ms. Scott,
Thank you for writing and voicing your concerns surrounding the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) decision to implement cuts in the Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP). I apologize for the delay in replying.
I agree that the proposed cuts to the Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP) are deeply troubling. The SEP has been essential to the conservation of wild Pacific salmon since the late 1970’s, and the inclusion of First Nations, conservation and community organizations, and educational institutions has been invaluable. The federal government needs to recognize the devastating threat these cuts pose to the BC economy, BC education system, conservation organizations and the environment.
I can report good news – I have been very active in this matter and I publicly called on Dominic LeBlanc, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, to reverse these cuts and allow salmon conservation organizations to continue their excellent and critical efforts. I also met with him personally on two occasions; the second just last week during the United Nations Oceans Conference. I am confident these programs and their crucial work will continue without interruption.
Thank you again for writing. I will continue to advocate for the protection of our wild salmon in any capacity I can.
It is an honor to do so as your Member of Parliament.
O.C. Member of Parliament Saanich-Gulf Islands Leader of the Green Party of Canada"
As it turns out, this budget did in fact get granted one year of “breathing room”, however individuals in the industry and enhancement programs are fully aware that we shall see a proposed budget cut most likely again the years(s) to come.
“If true, this decision is devastating to conservation organizations in BC like Peninsula Streams Society that have worked hard in partnership with DFO to save Pacific salmon runs and educate on salmon conservation,” said Ms. May. “I call on Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Dominic Leblanc to reverse these cuts and allow salmon conservation organizations on the Pacific coast to continue their excellent and critical work.” (May, 2017)
The purpose of this blog post is to shed some light on this matter, in hopes that more individuals will take the time to write a letter to MP’s, or perhaps even start a conversation around the dinner table. The more Vancouver Islanders and BC citizens aware of these efforts and the road bumps that they face, the better.
As a volunteer at GVSEA, I also took the time to put up a post about these initiatives and what the entail, which can be found here - https://www.gvsea.com/blog/attitude-enhancement-salmonids-in-the-classroom
In 2017, the hatchery had just enough eggs to help support the CIP program, as our fish returns were greatly impacted by the early fall commercial fishery that took place in the Saanich Inlet. Unfortunately, Goldstream Hatchery has 200,000 less eggs than 2016 and because of the new Wild Salmon Policy, (DFO, 2017) we will not be receiving assistance from other local hatcheries further up island.
“Regulations and enforcement alone are not enough to protect fish and fish habitat; a combination of these with a proactive approach are required. Canadians may play a role in safeguarding one of the country's natural treasures by acting as stewards of our fisheries resources. This website provides resources to assist Canadians in the Pacific Region in their stewardship and community involvement activities. Stewardship, simply stated, means Canadians - including landowners and other individual citizens, private companies and volunteers - are caring for our land, air and water, and sustaining the natural processes on which life depends.” (Canada Stewardship Agenda: Naturally Connecting Canadians, 2002)
In Pacific Region, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a long history of stewardship and community involvement through initiatives such as the Salmonid Enhancement Program and the Stream to Sea education program. The concept of stewardship goes beyond legal obligations to encompass moral obligations and a sense of responsible care. It refers to a wide range of actions and activities of individuals, communities, groups and organizations acting alone or in partnership, to promote, monitor and conserve and restore freshwater and oceans ecosystems.
“Our regional guiding principles are consistent with those of the Canada Stewardship Agenda and the national Oceans Sector Stewardship Framework. They recognize and confirm that Stewardship is implemented at the local level, recognizing the diverse social and economic conditions and introduces integrated planning as a concept. These principles reflect the Department's regional needs to guide Fisheries and Oceans Canada stewardship activities.” (DFO, 2017)
All in all, my wish is to see programs like these continue as I feel that involvement pertaining to our youth is so crucial, as these students are the future of Canada’s tomorrow. It is is so important for us to remind Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Dominic LeBlanc in Ottawa, what these educational programs and conservation efforts mean to us here, in beautiful British Columbia.
DFO. (2016, September 02). K-12 Education: Stream to Sea. Retrieved January 09, 2018, from Fisheries And Oceans Canada : http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/education/index-eng.html
DFO. (2017, June 17). Salmon Enhancement Program. Retrieved January 09, 2018, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sep-pmvs/index-eng.html
DFO. (2017, June 17). Salmonid Enhancement Program. Retrieved January 09, 2018, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sep-pmvs/index-eng.html
DFO. (2017, October 26). Steam To Sea Education Coordinators . Retrieved January 09, 2018, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/education/coordinators-coordonnateurs-eng.html
DFO. (2017, October 28). Stewardship And Community Involvement. Retrieved January 09, 2018, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sep-pmvs/projects-projets/index-eng.html
DFO. (2017, October 26). Wild Salmon Policy. Retrieved January 09, 2018, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/species-especes/salmon-saumon/wsp-pss/index-eng.html
May, E. (2017, May 31). DFO quietly cuts funding to key Pacific Salmon programs. Retrieved January 09, 2018, from Elizabeth May Member of Parliament: http://elizabethmaymp.ca/publications/2017/05/31/dfo-quietly-cuts-funding-to-key-pacific-salmon-programs/