The $50 million Chequertreed Fishery is a prime example of how the industry has evolved over the past decade, and how many of its fish species are facing extinction.
The Chequercuen fishery, located in the B.C. Fraser Valley, is the second largest in the world after the Philippines, with more than 2,200 species, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
But it is now facing a $75 million shortfall and is considering the loss of the majority of its catch.
The B.L.A. Aquarium is among those that are worried the fish’s survival is in jeopardy.
Its executive director, Paul B. MacLean, said the aquarium’s efforts to secure funding to build new equipment and hire more staff have been stalled.
The aquarium is working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to identify a way to restore some of the Chequetreed catch, but there is a lot of work to be done to bring the fish back to the wild, said MacLean.
“I don’t want to be too harsh, but it’s going to take a lot more than the $50m to make it happen,” he said.
MacLean said he’s concerned about the health of the fishery’s fishery population.
As of now, there are about 40 fishers in the fishermaw, and as many as 10 million fish can be caught per year, MacLean said.
“Fishermen who can’t get their catch back because they don’t have the equipment or they don: we’re talking millions of fish that are in jeopardy,” he added.
Some fishers are already planning to relocate.
B.C.’s Ministry of Forests and Oils and Parks (MFOPA) recently announced a $5 million investment in a fishery rehabilitation plan, and it has a goal to restore a minimum of 1,000 to 1,500 fishers a year.
The department also is offering a $3,000 tax credit to encourage people to make plans to fish in the Fraser Valley.
There is also a $2,500 fish-spotting fee for fishers, and a $500 catch limit for anglers.
Fishery managers are hoping to get more fishers to migrate to B.A., which is where the fishers live.
But MacLean noted the Fraser River has a much higher water level than the Fraser, which is why the Cheqere is vulnerable to drought.
“I don [think] the Fraser is going to have the same water levels in the next 20 years,” he explained.
But B.S.’s minister of fisheries said he hopes the fisherage can attract more anglers to the Fraser.
“It’s a great fishery.
There are some amazing fish that go through there,” said Brian Topp, the minister’s fisheries minister.
“But the bottom line is we are going to continue to see anglers, and I’m confident they’re going to come.”