Chinook salmon closed to recreational anglers on the Skeena River. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

In Our Opinion: Reimagine a North Coast without salmon

Prince Rupert needs a tourism rebranding after DFO announces salmon fishing closures

Imagine going to Okanagan Valley and there being no vineyards, or Whistler in the winter without any snow, and then to the North Coast to fish but you’re not allowed to catch salmon.

Wild fires, warmer winters and declining wild salmon stocks are all realities today. A river once teeming with salmon. Memories of canneries once lining the coast. Boats trolling the seas. These images and stories still exist today but in texts, historical sites and museums.

Still, salmon, like East Coast cod, is part of the North Coast identity. Salmon is a resource to coastal First Nations and residents who live along the Skeena River. And outsiders view northwestern B.C. as a place to come to fish for salmon.

A week after Fisheries and Oceans announced on May 8 that there will be no sport salmon fishing in the Skeena and Nass watersheds, it’s still hard to imagine what exactly that will mean for the North Coast — small business, tourism and its identity.

READ MORE: Salmon closures a devastating blow to North Coast business

There will be no fishing, other than catch and release of steelhead, on the Skeena River. The closures will affect river charters, fishing lodges, processing companies, hotels, restaurants, shops, the list goes on.

With the salmon closures becoming more frequent, a rebranding is in order, and a reimagining of our future tourist offerings.

Come visit Prince Rupert for its grizzly bear tours and rugged rainforest landscapes. Visit the new Tsimshian cultural arts centre. Explore the restored World War II sites and the waterfront trail network. Take an industry tour of the port and the many propane terminals. Go trap some Dungeness crabs, or fish for halibut up to 115cm long. There is still so much to offer, but only those who live in the region seem privy to that secret.

READ MORE: North Coast day tours to provide extra flights to residents this June


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