Strength in numbers: municipalities set to lobby upper levels of government over plight of fish stocks

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By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With recent government programs failing to help prop up fish stocks in Kootenay Lake and regional bodies of water, several regional district municipalities are banding together to demand an update on what will be done.
The City of Nelson, the Village of Kaslo and Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) areas A, F and E, as well as RDCK chair Aimee Watson are co-signing a letter that will be delivered to provincial and federal government departments, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, BC Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
The municipal bodies are requesting an update with regard to the “state of fish stocks in Kootenay Lake and other surrounding water bodies, specifically the Columbia” River.
“It is well known that the population of fish in the region, which once drew anglers from near and far, has collapsed,” the draft letter read.
There have been a number of initiatives aimed at rebuilding and enhancing the fish stocks in local waters, the letter stated, but the effect on fish counts has proven that the programs are not having a significant impact.
“We are very concerned that the fish stocks in the region are on the brink of disaster and could be damaged beyond repair,” the letter continued.
The languishing fish stocks is the underpinning of a greater problem, said Area E director Ramona Faust.
“The collapse and near collapse in Kootenay Lake has direct economic impacts on tourism and, of course, the ecology of the lake is often missed because we are not considered an affected area in some way because the dam at Corra Linn — which is the gateway to power production — was not a treaty dam,” she said.
“So we are having some issue with getting attention to bear on this.”
The letter will be tweaked again by the municipalities before being sent, said City of Nelson director Janice Morrison, but the conversation had to start somewhere.
“The idea here was to have a starting point, and there needs to be further discussion given to this process, but it needed to...continued.

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