Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to go out with recreational fishers a number of weeks ago. We talked about important issues like mark-selective fishing.
Pacific salmon stocks are declining, many to historic lows, particularly in the Fraser River. Over 50 Pacific salmon populations are being considered for potential listing under the Species at Risk Act or are pending assessment by COSEWIC. Fraser chinook are included on this list, with 12 of 13 Fraser River chinook populations assessed as at risk of extinction. Only one is healthy.
The 2019 state of the salmon report indicated that Pacific salmon are being negatively affected by a range of factors, including climate change and warming waters, habitat degradation, changes in land and water use, increasing intensity of contaminants, acute one-time events such as toxic spills and landslides, illegal and unregulated fishing, and international fishing pressures.
Air, ocean and freshwater temperatures have reached record highs in B.C. and the Yukon in recent years. This impacts snowfall and snowmelt, which keep the rivers cool and flowing. Increasing water temperatures, changes to river flow patterns, flash floods, increased erosion and landslides are all climate change impacts affecting the quality of precious river and lake salmon habitat.
In the short term, DFO has acted to substantially reduce fishing pressure on Fraser chinook stocks to reduce the risk of further declines and provide time for recovery measures, with longer time horizons to produce results. While these fishing measures have had significant impacts on first nations, recreational and commercial harvesters, they have been necessary to protect dwindling populations.
Short-term recovery efforts have been further challenged on the Fraser by the discovery of the massive Big Bar landslide in June 2019. The slide has significantly impacted natural salmon passage, and extraordinary efforts by DFO, the Province of B.C. and first nations have been required to support the passage of thousands of salmon past the slide. In addition, several new emergency hatchery-enhancement efforts are also under way to support impacted chinook populations.
Over the longer term, the challenges facing many Pacific salmon stocks on the Canadian west coast are complex and require a long-term transformative strategy. There are a number of initiatives currently under way. They include the wild salmon policy implementation plan, the coastal restoration fund, the B.C. salmon restoration and innovation fund, additional funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, implementation funding for the renewed Pacific Salmon Treaty and the renewed Fisheries Act. They all focus on sustaining and recovering wild salmon from a variety of directions, including habitat restoration and protection, science and research, and education and stewardship.
While these new federal investments will help to support recovery, we also need to work with first nations, other levels of government and fishers to support innovative approaches and support salmon recovery and resiliency so we can continue to enjoy the ecological, cultural, social and economic benefits of a healthy Pacific salmon population and work to increase the amount of access and opportunity available to British Columbians and British Columbia fishers.