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Premier and Federal Minister make salmon announcement

Premier John Horgan and Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, have announced funding for the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund.

Wilkinson said the money will support investments for projects that contribute to the restoration of salmon.

The federal government is investing 100 million dollars over five years, and the province is investing almost 43 million dollars over the same period Wilkinson said to ensure future generations can enjoy our iconic salmon.

Wilkinson said the federal government is accepting expressions of interest on projects that contribute to restoration, innovation, infrastructure and science partnerships.

Those can come from community groups, academia, fish stakeholders, researchers, Indigenous or recreation groups and commercial harvesters.

In the meantime, Wilkinson was asked for his sales pitch to the premier when it came to the pipeline expansion project in B.C. and the preservation of the Southern Resident Killer whale population.

Wilkinson said there are three issues facing the whales, there are not enough Chinook salmon, contaminants and, vessel traffic.

Premier John Horgan said tanker traffic is an issue, but a bigger issue is a bitumen spill.

Horgan said his government does not support a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic, but Wilkinson said there are already 3,200 ships using the Port of Vancouver every year and that’s increasing at 3 to 4 per cent every year.

Wilkinson also talked about federal fishing regulations for this season.

He said he’s waiting for the science before he makes any decisions on fishing curtailments this season.

Wilkinson said since implementing restrictions on salmon fishing last season some stocks have managed to bounce back a bit, but Chinook salmon are still showing declines.

Horgan said the province doesn’t have a say in allocations but he is predicting heated discussions when an announcement is made.

Last May, the federal government closed some recreational and commercial Chinook fisheries in an effort to help save endangered southern resident killer whales.

There’s been no announcement for this coming season about the plan going forward.

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