B.C. to Make the Salmon An Official Symbol

Salmon going upstream

Will the Pacific salmon join Dogwood, Jade, Cedar and the Spirit Bear as an official symbol of B.C.?

An amendment introduced by Minister of Justice Shirley Bond would add the iconic fish to the Provincial Symbols and Honours Act.

The measure, widely expected to pass, would include the sockeye salmon, Chinook salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, chum salmon, pink salmon and Coho salmon as official symbols of the province.

“It’s important to note that federal fisheries govern and dictate fisheries management when it comes to salmon,” says Owen Bird, executive director of the Sport Fishing Institute of B.C. Bird hopes that the symbolic designation will lead to more public support for sustainable fisheries. “If salmon fisheries aren’t sustainable, nobody’s fishing.”

B.C. environmental organizations have long been pushing for the official designation, citing high public support. A 2011 study by the Pacific Salmon Foundation, B.C. Conservation Foundation and the Fraser Basin Council found 93 per cent of respondents named some genus of Oncorhynchus as B.C.’s most iconic fish, with 85 per cent supporting an official designation. Sadly, respondents also chose starfish, dolphin, sturgeon and whales.

“Symbolism matters. It will make a difference in terms of affecting and understanding and knowledge of the environment and the importance of the Pacific salmon as an indicator species,” says Michael Meener of the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Meener believes that symbolic support yields tangible benefits. “When give grants out to the various stream keeping groups that we fund, they take every dollar we give them and raise anywhere from 6 to 7 more dollars through the local communities.”