Salmon a vital link

Columnist Diana French discusses the declining Pacific salmon stocks and an upcoming talk on the situation.

Pacific salmon stocks are declining.

Maybe that isn’t an issue for many in the Cariboo, but it is for me. I grew up with salmon.

Quathiaski Cove, the small village where I was raised, is just across from Campbell River, the renowned fishing “capital” for the Tyee (a Chinook salmon more than 30 pounds).

A B.C. Packers salmon cannery was located at Quathiaski.

My dad was the postmaster, but most of the dads were company employees. We lived in a company-owned apartment spitting distance from the  cannery.

We ate lots of salmon because they were easy to get. Dad would head out in his putter boat (a rowboat with an inboard motor) and if he didn’t catch one in an hour or so he was peeved. If  he caught one under 10 pounds he was peeved. My brother and I thought you only ate salmon when you couldn’t afford anything else and we didn’t care for it. Then I grew up and came to the Cariboo, where salmon were known as Chilcotin Turkeys.

They weren’t easy to come by so of course I changed my attitude about eating them.

The last time I went salmon fishing at Campbell River was more than 20 years ago. We stayed at a resort for three days and not one fisherman caught a salmon. I couldn’t believe it.

Does it matter? Well, even if we don’t care that salmon play an important role in B.C. for both commercial and recreational fishermen, or that they provide sustenance to many, they are a vital link in the circle of our lives.

We mess with nature at our peril.

An expert on the salmon situation, Dr. Craig Orr, will be here tomorrow evening, at the arts centre, at 7:30 p.m. to tell us about it. I hope you will turn out to hear what he has to say.

Trust me. It really does matter.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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