Inquiry into the need for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to recover endangered eulachon

Petition: 430

Issue(s): Biological diversity, Fisheries, Governance, Indigenous matters, Other, Toxic substances

Petitioner(s): A Canadian resident

Petitioner Location(s): Smithers, British Columbia

Date Received: 5 July 2019

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition raises concerns about the health of eulachon, a forage fish found in the waters of British Columbia, and about the Government of Canada’s management of this species. The petition asserts that the shrimp trawl fishery has negative effects on the eulachon population, resulting from bycatch and harvesting practices in estuarine areas during the eulachon’s migration periods. It asks why the federal government has not implemented a moratorium on shrimp trawl fishing, or prohibited shrimp harvesting in estuarine areas during the critical migration periods for eulachon.

The petition stresses the significance of eulachon in the cultural traditions of Indigenous peoples, and it refers to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s recognition of cultural tradition—including the viability of access to traditional food and culture—as fundamental. The petition asserts that the shrimp trawl fishery has been given priority over the First Nations trade in eulachon, and it asks how the economic benefit of the shrimp trawl fishery is weighed against the cultural and economic trade benefit to First Nations.

The petition also raises concerns about the loss of habitat caused by forestry, industrial activities, and urban development. It notes that the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has assessed the eulachon in British Columbia waters in the Fraser River and Central Pacific Coast as “endangered,” and the population in the Nass and Skeena rivers as of “special concern.” The petition also expresses concern about how eulachon are affected by a Fisheries and Oceans Canada fish weir on the Kitimat River, and by a Rio Tinto Alcan discharge pipe on the Kemano River.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Fisheries and Oceans, Indigenous Services Canada