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Powell River Salmon Society seeks community support

Article By: The Peak, Paul Galinski Aug 13, 2021

qathet Regional District’s board will consider writing a letter to Fisheries and Oceans Canada expressing support for Powell River Salmon Society and emphasizing the need to increase funding.

At the August 12 committee of the whole meeting, directors heard from salmon society representative Rod Tysdal, who outlined that the society had not received an increase in funding since 1982.

Tysdal said the salmon society was formed in 1982, and at that time, it received a grant from the federal government in the amount of about $188,000 for operation of the fish hatchery.

“Since that time, that number has been unchanged,” said Tysdal. “It’s been 40 years that we’ve been working with the same money that we get through the federal government.

“What we are doing now is we have made arrangements with the Pacific Salmon Foundation, who would fund us through putting on banquets and other things, and we’ve separated ourselves because we want to run that banquet ourselves and raise our own funds that way. The truth of the matter is that the society had five employees and it is down to two and a half now.”

The society depends upon volunteers, who spend about 10,000 to 15,000 volunteer hours a year to make up for the slack, because the society does not have the funds to hire people, according to Tysdal.

He said the society has started a letter writing campaign to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. He said the society is asking groups and individuals to write letters to the minister of fisheries and oceans, explaining the situation, and asking for more funds. The society is also going to be sending out a petition, taking it around town, asking for signatures. The society is working with North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney, who is having the petition set up for introduction in the house of commons, said Tysdal, and when the society gets the petition back, it will circulate it throughout the community.

“What I’m doing here today is asking you as a board, and as individuals, if you would be so kind as to write a letter explaining our situation here and asking for more funding,” said Tysdal. “Once we get the petition finalized, I don’t know what you could do as a regional board, but if you’d be so inclined, please encourage people to sign it.”

Electoral Area A director and board chair Patrick Brabazon asked if Tysdal had any comment to make on the federal government’s decision to restrict salmon fisheries. Brabazon said essentially, the government is going to be closing the commercial fishery.

“Well, it’s not good news, is it?” said Tysdal.

Directors indicate support

Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said it has been a long time for the funding not to change.

“I’m kind of amazed you haven’t got any increase in funding in that time,” said Gisborne. “I’d be happy to support a letter.”

City director George Doubt thanked Tysdal for the work he and everyone else in the society does.

“It’s a huge contribution for an endangered resource,” said Doubt. “It’s something that has immense value locally. If you were funded to a reasonable level by the federal government, not only would it help the salmon stock, but it would also help employment in the area. At some point, I’d be unquestionably supporting a letter to the federal government to support increased funding for the salmon society.”

Doubt said he’d like to see a copy of the letter come before the board before the meeting at the end of the month so directors could see what the board is signing onto.

Electoral Area C director Clay Brander said he wanted to express his gratitude to the society members. He said his children had gone to Kelly Creek Community School and participated in several field trips to the hatchery.

“I’m very much in support of writing a letter and I’ll do an individual one myself,” said Brander.

Tysdal said when looking at the cost of producing salmon, the hatchery’s cost is about 10 cents per fish.

“We’re the least expensive of all the different hatcheries that are similar to us around the coast,” said Tysdal. “You’re getting good value for the money.”

The committee voted unanimously to recommend the board write letters to the ministry of fisheries and oceans and MP Blaney, expressing support for the local salmon society’s work, and the need to increase funding.

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