November 14, 2012

DFO is MIA in Celebrating Success

We are having an amazing chum salmon year in Burnaby and neighbouring cities. People are reporting spawners in creeks where they haven't been seen in 50+ years. Newspapers and TV newscasts are featuring enchanted kids with sparkling eyes marvelling at seeing salmon in their neighbourhoods.

Chum have moved up the Brunette River, up the new Metro Vancouver fish ladder at Caribou Dam, through the dredged Burnaby Lake (a City of Burnaby initiative that I initially had qualms about, but am now reassessing), and up Still Creek beyond the Burnaby border and well into Vancouver. Some reports say it's been 80 years since salmon have spawned that high up Still Creek, which for decades wasn't much more than an open sewer.

As of last weekend I understand Stoney Creek in NE Burnaby, the most productive stream in the city, had counted over 750 chum back.

And not a peep from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on how much of this is due to decades of local streamkeeper volunteers and the DFO's Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP), of hard-working DFO staff on the ground, of DFO Community Advisors and volunteers at hatcheries, of doggedly rehabilitating and stocking urban and suburban creeks and streams year after year after year, of collaborations between stewards, the City of Burnaby, Metro Vancouver and DFO in making culverts more fish friendly, of tackling pollution issues and sanitary/storm cross-connects...

Why can't DFO publicly promote such success? Hard-earned success and cooperation from volunteers and all levels of government? It's a shame that nothing can be officially said by DFO Pacific without approval from Ottawa.

SEP is likely one of the most popular and cost-effective government programs in history, leveraging contributions by tens of thousands of volunteers in BC. It should be seen as something to celebrate and emulate.

I should include the "full disclosure"  bit: I am a volunteer streamkeeper and president of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society, a member of the Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board to DFO, and a citizen representative on the City of Burnaby's Environment Committee.

UPDATE: (Nov. 23, 2012) Happy to see that DFO has published some positive PR on the SEP website. Let's keep it up! Chum salmon make stronger-than-usual return in 2012.

Posted by Paul at November 14, 2012 07:33 PM