Vancouver Island — NDP Members of Parliament representing Vancouver Island and coastal communities are calling on Fisheries Minister Jonathon Wilkinson to consider allowing for the retention of marked, or hatchery-raised, Chinook salmon.

"We support conservation, however the impacts of chinook restrictions are substantial on BC anglers and coastal communities," says Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, NDP Critic for Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard. "In meetings with Minister Wilkinson, we were told marked Chinook retention was being looked at, but we’ve heard nothing. Today, we are asking the government to make it a priority," said Johns.

The call came yesterday, the same day as a peaceful protest in Victoria by sport fishers. Anglers from across coastal BC gathered off the Ogden Point breakwater to urge the federal government to allow retention of marked Chinook.

Sport fishers say allowing the retention of marked Chinook would have minimal impacts on Fraser Chinook returns, and would greatly benefit an industry reeling from the impact of the sweeping closures and restrictions which took effect in the spring.

Owen Bird, Executive Director of the Sport Fishing Institute of BC said marked fish isn’t the only issue sport fishers are waiting to see government action on. "As well as marked, select fisheries, we are also keen to see discussion around production, marking rates, and recovery plans for the stocks. We’re not hearing enough about that, and it’s a major component of the issue."

"Many coastal communities, like those in my riding, rely on recreational fishing for their economic livelihoods," said Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford. "We must recognize the important salmon conservation and habitat restoration measures that recreational fishing organizations engage in, as well as their efforts in releasing hatchery-raised fish."