KAMLOOPS — The Kamloops Fly Fishers Association is pleased with the immediate success of an e-petition demanding tough federal action to save collapsing steelhead populations in the Upper Fraser River system.
The e-petition was launched by the Steelhead Society of B.C. and has attracted 500 signatures — the minimum threshold for compelling a formal response by the federal government — less than a day after it was posted to Canada's Parliamentary website on December 15. The petition will be online for signing until April 14, 2018 and now has over 1,000 signatures.
The Steelhead Society says the e-petition is an important step toward persuading federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Dominic Leblanc to take action against declining Thompson River and Chilcotin River steelhead. Less than 200 steelhead returned this fall to the Thompson River compared to runs numbering in the thousands in decades past.
"This is stupendous. I'm so excited to get those signatures so quick," says President of the Kamloops Fly Fishers Association Leonard Piggin, who notes the dwindling stocks are hurting the economy.
He works at a local sports business and says sales are down significantly when you can't fish the Thompson River steelhead.
"That will happen in all sports shops all the way down to the Lower Mainland. The other thing that happens is the tourism effect. I don't know if you've been to Spences Bridge, or Lytton and Cache Creek. At one time there was 12 motels and restaurants in Spences Bridge, now there's, like, one."
Piggin is hopeful the e-petition will catch the government's attention because he says federal officials won't attend public meetings to discuss the subject.
"Action needs to be taken and this petition will get this in front of the House of Commons. Minister Leblanc and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna are not taking action to arrest the extinction of the Thomson River steelhead."
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