HomeFeaturesIFM Op-Ed: Fix DFO

IFM Op-Ed: Fix DFO

It is time to bring salmon back to British Columbia.

Their entire management.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, a federal ministry based out of Ottawa, has been in charge of British Columbia salmon for too long. They have dropped the ball, utterly and completely. It is time to bring salmon management back to BC.

Alaska doesn’t have to ask Donald Trump how many fish they are going to harvest. Alaska doesn’t have to ask Donald Trump about stream restoration, habitat improvement, hatchery programs, or educational initiatives. And no BC ministry in charge of wild salmon would make one of its core mandates the proliferation and marketing of Atlantic salmon from fish farms. But in all of those cases, BC is obligated to follow the whims of whatever Prime Minister is in office.

But we have to ask whatever sitting Prime Minister there is at the time.

Let’s put this as simply as possible.

DFO manages (and I use that term loosely) fish in the ocean. When those fish return to freshwater to spawn they come under the rule of both DFO and the provincial Ministry of the Environment. When problems, solutions or innovative ideas about salmon come up what do they do? Do they give it scrutiny under the best science? Do they listen to the field managers and their hard-working and caring staff? Do they listen to the local advisory boards they have set up?

No, they squabble about how much it will cost, whose budget it will come from, and whose political future will benefit.

Can you imagine the bureaucracy in the Provincial Minister of Environment? The infighting? The power struggles? Can you imagine the same in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans?

Now, can you imagine those two behemoths fighting it out over jurisdiction over salmon, trout, and steelhead?

Under this current sham of salmon management, let’s delve into what possibly happened in the latest edicts from DFO. DFO Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says to Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, “The no retention on Chinook salmon on the BC coast is going to cause an upwell of resentment and, actually really not make any difference.”

Says Justin, “I understand. Can we make it a temporary thing both to appease those affected, and affect those appeased?”

“Of course,” says Wilkinson.

A month later Wilkinson says, “We could reduce the size limit for retention of Chinook using the Fraser blockage as an excuse. The wail and cry from British Columbians will be loud and long. It doesn’t make any scientific sense. But it will certainly tighten the screws.”

Trudeau smiles and says, “And no one will wail louder than Horgan. And maybe, after a couple of weeks, we’ll review our rules, but only if I get movement from Horgan on the Trans Mountain Pipeline issue.”

Minister Wilkinson clears his throat uncomfortably and says, “The economic damage we do to the coast, especially small communities, could be catastrophic.”

“Yes,” says Trudeau. “We’ll have to make sure our BC MPs are front and center when we scale back our science-based decision and remove the restrictions and come to the rescue.”

“Science-based?” asks Wilkinson.

“Yes, political science, my friend,” says Trudeau. “Isn’t the election in October?”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in Island Fisherman Magazine Opinion Editorial (IFM Op-Eds) are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Island Fisherman magazine. If you’re interested in writing an IFM Op-Ed, please send an email to [email protected] or visit Letters To The Editor.


  1. A very plausible analysis by a guy who has been around long enough and is well enough connected to be offering it. Good on you Neil.

  2. If our very own Province was actually sovereign, we could then quite easily manage our own fisheries and natural resources. Defacto governance is leeching out lives away. Go Sovereign!

  3. Very well said, I commercial fished for 41 years and slowly saw the dfo ruin the industry. We used to have dfo officials on the grounds and local offices that new as much or more than the fishermen. I have now gone to the dark side and I see the same thing happening. All decisions are political and there’s no dfo officers that have much local knowledge mostly sitting in offices not many on grounds. Sorry to they this but most waiting for pension and don’t want to rock the boat. I highly doubt the province would do a better job but it could not be worse.

  4. Absolutely no mention of the main problem the fish farms. Now the test tube scientists are trying to legalize the most destructive entity out there the PRV virus. What kind of supposed clear thinking leader would come up with this INSANITY. THE GOVERNMENT AND DFO HAS TOTALLY DESTROYED ANY SORT OF FISHERY ON THE BC COAST. WHETHER IT BE COMMERCIAL OR SPORTY. ALL FOR THE SAKE OF A FOREIGN ENTITY CALLED FISH FARMS.

  5. The author of this piece read my mind. BC does need to control its own fish. I recently met some folks at a first aid course who worked for the DFO. I was shocked when a couple of them told me they had never in been on a boat let alone fishing . Lets start writing and get control of our fish out of Ottawa where they only care about the future of Quebec and Ontario.

  6. The Department of Federal Oceanic Extinctions is living down to all expectations. They only care about the almighty dollar not the resource that they are supposed to manage for all Canadians. By the way our charter rights give us the right to fish. Check it out


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