CANADA - If the Ministerial Committee on wild Atlantic salmon recommends increased funding for conservation and applied research projects, it should look to the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation (ASCF) to administer those funds. That’s one of the recommendations that Stephen Chase, executive director of ASCF, delivered to the Advisory Committee.
“Wild Atlantic salmon is an iconic species that has immense social, cultural and economic value to Canadians,” said Mr Chase, “yet support for the wild Atlantic salmon by governments, both federal and provincial, has been very soft, and declining in recent years."
“The Salmon Foundation recommends that more funding be made permanently available to community groups, universities, municipalities and First Nations organizations to advance salmon conservation and to support more scientific initiatives in applied research.
“We further recommend that such funding should be made available through a vehicle that awards grants following assessment by expert, inclusive and representative advisory bodies, that funds projects based on clearly stated goals and performance measures, that ensures fair regional distribution, and that assures full transparency and accountability of results,” Mr Chase said.
“The Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation has been doing just this for the past eight years,” Mr Chase pointed out.
“Our message to the Advisory Committee is that we are ready and able to continue in this role on a broader basis. There will be no need to ‘reinvent the wheel,’ so to speak, if the Committee recommends increased funding for salmon conservation efforts.”
Created with a C$30 million endowment from the federal government in 2007, the Salmon Foundation has been funding salmon conservation projects ever since. Between 2008 and 2014, it helped to fund over 200 conservation projects, and will fund approximately 60 new projects in 2015. Its funding contribution as of 2015 will be C$3.5 million, with an estimated cash and in-kind value of C$20 million.
As a result, by 2014 nearly 900,000 square meters of habitat had been restored; nearly 43 million square meters of new access to habitat created; and 28,000 individuals had benefitted from salmon education initiatives across the Atlantic provinces and Quebec. Also of importance, nearly 1000 FTE jobs had been created or supported, and 3600 volunteers had contributed close to 100,000 hours of effort.
“All of this happened with ASCF support,” Mr Chase pointed out.
“The Salmon Foundation has a proven track-record of efficiently and effectively handling grant funding for the conservation, restoration and study of wild Atlantic salmon. We have established a solid approach based on a few simple, but important, principles: planning; priority setting; performance measurement; and partnership. These principles have contributed significantly in the attainment of measurable conservation gains, which is why we recommend that any additional project funding should be made available through ASCF.”
The Foundation will present a total of six recommendations when it appears before the committee.
Other recommendations include: that new funding be made available by Canada to stimulate marine scientific research initiatives on wild Atlantic Canada, in partnership with other nations; that a concerted effort should be made by governments and NGOs to stimulate formation and support of community stewardship groups for wild Atlantic salmon and its habitat, and provide these groups with technical support, wherever possible; and that governments ensure that adequate scientific and technical expertise is available on staff to support and strengthen the capacity of community groups, First Nations and others to carry out effective conservation activity.
The Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation is dedicated to addressing conservation issues across the five provinces that make up the entire domain of wild Atlantic salmon in Canada – New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.
“The Foundation is pleased and encouraged that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has created the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Atlantic salmon,” said Mr Chase, “and we welcome this opportunity to provide our advice and recommendations respecting what we see are the issues central to the conservation of Atlantic salmon.”
TheFishSite News Desk