At the time of this writing (Jan. 23, 2018) an effort will be made to give ‘person’ status to steelhead.
I don’t understand it all but I will give you a basic breakdown.
If the steelhead were to be granted personhood, then they, like most others, would have legal recourse regarding the use of their environment.
Think of it this way: If your neighbour or whomever, decided to build a facility in some way that affected your financial, environmental or health assets — the value of your property — you have leave through the legal system to argue, block or mitigate that development.
If the steelhead were to be given person status, the steelhead would have the same rights as you.
The system in other jurisdictions, where rivers and such have been given person status, has thrown a whole new dimension into environmental protection.
Again, I don’t fully understand it all. But think of it this way.
If a company was to want to clearcut the Tsitika River watershed, and people protested, the company would argue, ‘It’s our property and we’ll do with it as we please.’
The people would argue, the company would argue and the people would lose because they had no legal title to the land.
Now switch it to whose land it is. If the steelhead would be granted person status then their property would be inherent. The Tsitika watershed would then be the steelhead’s. The steelhead would superimpose ownership over mult-national corporations, national, provincial, municipal and First Nations governments.
Now that’s an interesting perspective.
As far as I know, the BC initiative was sparked by Rory Glennie, a contributor to this magazine and a lover of fish and fishing.
So far it has been a track of emails outlining the possible routes this possibility could take.
Because right now those in power would rather talk about and market steelhead fishing opportunities that haven’t existed for years and some that never existed.
First example? The Campbell River 2017 Discovery Guide. The fishing section is mentioned on page 36 of a 54-page publication. It comes behind Natural Wonders, Wildlife Watching, Culinary Delights, Shopping, Arts and Culture, Heritage, Family-Friendly Fun, First Nations, Biking, Hiking and Climbing, Golfing and Mountain Life.
All good and well.
But, even in our decline, I would suggest fishing brings more people to Campbell River than most of the categories listed above; probably more than most of them put together.
It’s not the promotion of the other activities over fishing that bothers. It’s the astonishing lack of knowledge and, yes, untruths, that are marketed.
The picture on the fishing section is absurd. It is a great picture of a young couple hugging—wait for it—two chum salmon. Holy cow. Talk about marketing. Chum salmon don’t even show up in Campbell River waters until late September or early October. And these particular chum look like they’ve almost been smoked already.
But it gets better. Read on from this tourist guide. “With five species of salmon swimming through our waters annually, this wonderful region is infamously (sic) known as the Salmon Capital of the World and easily identified as a sport fishing mecca,”
Infamous? Perhaps more Freudian than we would like to admit.
But the best/worse is yet to come. The story continues: “Between Gold River to the west and the Salmon River to the north, our streams are filled with salmon, steelhead and trout.”
Holy moly! Who would have known Miller Creek had salmon! And Drum Creek must be packed with them! I am so stupid, never fished them all these years.
Reality? It should read, “Between Gold River to the west and the Salmon River to the north, you wouldn’t find a salmon, steelhead or trout if you were Jesus.”
And both the Gold and the Salmon rivers are struggling mightily to maintain their runs. One swim count last year on the Gold turned up exactly one steelhead.
What this discourse does is, basically, lie. Worse is that efforts to help the resource is beleaguered by bull crap that says all is well. All is not well. And if the fish are not well, neither are we.
And when I say we, as persons, I include Rod and Anne Steelhead.