4. Resource Mining in the Sea: Fish and Oysters

The first Europeans to visit the Strait of Georgia reported waters teeming with life, from herring to whales. Again it was the Hudson’s Bay Company that started the international trade, shipping up to 2,000 barrels a year of salted Fraser River salmon to Hawaii, Tahiti and Australia in the 1840s. The company was exporting even more salmon around the Pacific and exploring new markets for herring in the late 1850s when it lost its monopoly control over the trade to non-HBC entrepreneurs. Many species of finfish and shellfish abounded in the Strait, but from the earliest days of the settlers’ commercial fishery, salmon was by far the most important fish.

Labels from a few of the early canneries around Vancouver. By 1900 there were over fifty at the mouth of the Fraser River alone, and many others around the Strait. Harbour Publishing Archives

The settlers’ early salmon fishery, 1849–1880s

The industrial fishery didn’t develop much on the Strait through the 1860s, when it was still part of a British colony, though events in Britain influenced its future. A Royal Commission there asked whether British fish stocks were growing or diminishing, whether any modes of fishing were harming those stocks and whether any fishing regulations were harmful. Lacking reliable data, the commission saw no conclusive proof of declining stocks and declared that Britain’s fisheries were being most harmed by the rules that governed them. The resulting Sea Fisheries Act of 1868 was a striking example of nineteenth-century liberalism: it abolished more than fifty laws that had been passed during the previous centuries. The result for Britain was that “Fishing became possible whenever, wherever and with whatever methods fishers pleased…[leading to] unbridled expansion of fisheries, and within a couple of decades it would have serious impacts on fish stocks and their habitats.”1

Fifteen years later, amid growing worries about overfishing by North Atlantic fishers, British biologist Thomas Huxley informed the 1883 International Fisheries Exhibition that overfishing anywhere was “scientifically impossible” and, most likely, “all the great sea fisheries are inexhaustible.”2 His declaration informed the broad imperial context for the emerging settlers’ fishery on the Strait.

Most visitors to Canada’s new Pacific province in the 1870s were greatly impressed by the apparently limitless wealth of its seas. The Colonist exclaimed: “The real treasury of British Columbia is…the untold and immeasurable wealth of its fisheries. The waters of the Gulf of Georgia are alive with fish.”3 The same year, the annual report of Ottawa’s new Department of Marine and Fisheries (DMF) included an essay describing these newly acquired “marine resources.” It focused on the Strait, where salmon were “common…to every stream,” herring spawned “in prodigious numbers” in its many bays and inlets, and oysters were “very abundant,” especially around Comox. The report also suggested, “It may be desirable before long to bestow…closer attention” on these fisheries, especially as rapid developments in California fisheries were likely to stimulate others farther north. The authors saw no immediate need to extend federal fishery laws to the province, though they recognised their need to be better informed about the new Pacific fisheries. A certain diffidence among federal authorities was understandable in light of the very long time still needed to travel between Ottawa and the BC coast in the 1870s.

The settlers had arrived with their own highly evolved knowledge of fishing and fish processing. Like the Strait’s Indigenous people, they prized its salmon above all else. The diversity of Pacific salmon species and their abundance, particularly at the mouth of the Fraser River, contributed to their value. Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) spawned in the autumn and were the most plentiful species, though canneries considered their lean flesh the cheapest grade. Sockeye salmon (O. nerka) were smaller than Chum and travelled far up rivers to spawn in the summer, but their uniform size and the huge numbers of them spawning in the Fraser made them the most important fish commercially. Smaller Pink salmon (O. gorbuscha) spawned from early summer to early fall; like Sockeye, they had been a cornerstone of the vast Indigenous fishery in the Fraser basin and they quickly became another focus of the settlers’ summer fishery at the mouth of this river. Coho salmon (O. kisutch) were larger than Pinks, though less numerous, and spawned in the autumn. Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) were the largest and least numerous species and spawned from early spring into the autumn. In the twentieth century, Coho and Chinook became the most prized sport fish on the Strait.

The Great Britain Emigration Commission’s report on Vancouver Island described the Strait’s “very rich and fat” salmon that could easily be “speared or shot or caught in nets” as they converged to ascend rivers, and settlers at the time did catch most of their salmon in nets of one kind or another. Within a couple of decades, fishermen working alone or in pairs in small boats were supplying fish to a rapidly growing collection of canneries. Experiments were made with salting, smoking and pickling salmon, but canning proved to be the best technology for transforming the abundant fish into a global commodity.

Modern fish-canning processes originated in late-eighteenth-century France, spread to Scotland and then to the lobster and salmon fisheries of North America’s Atlantic coast in the early nineteenth century. Canning technology moved to California’s Sacramento River salmon fishery in the 1860s, and from there it made its way north. Fraser River Sockeye were first canned in 1867, and by 1871 commercial canneries were operating at the mouth of the Fraser. In those early years, four canneries produced almost a million 450-gram tins of Sockeye a year. By 1880, a dozen canneries lined the Lower Fraser, shipping salmon to Britain to help meet growing demand for cheap protein from a hard-pressed urban working class. While the settlers around the Strait might savour fresh-caught fish, the vast majority of the salmon they caught were destined to be canned for this overseas market. The arrival of the railroad would open up other markets.

Federal law restricted the industrial salmon fishery to tidal areas. As Indigenous fishers had done before them, settlers established a network of seasonal fish-processing camps on sheltered shorelines. The Sockeye fishery at the Fraser mouth was tremendously valuable to the entrepreneurs controlling it, and masses of spawning salmon in those years did suggest an infinite resource. The Colonist reported that the Fraser above Yale in 1873 was “literally blocked with salmon.”4 In 1876, Indian Commissioner G.M. Sproat (chapter 2) described the salmon filling the Squamish River, so thick that he and his colleagues could have “killed by the scores” with their paddles alone.5 Yet there was already talk of overfishing within a decade of the first canneries opening on the Fraser. The DMF introduced licensing for gillnetters and began to contemplate constructing salmon hatcheries to maintain stocks.

Salmon fishing at the centre of the resource rush, 1880s–World War 

The salmon fishery had overtaken mining as the Strait’s most important industry by the mid-1880s, when canned salmon became BC’s most valuable export. Most early commercial fishers on the Strait used gillnetters powered by oar or sail (see photograph here), but the new century saw growing use of purse seiners, motorised boats and gear, mechanised ice-packing equipment and more sophisticated harvesting techniques. These technologies allowed fishers to handle bigger nets more effectively, cover greater distances and fish for longer. As well, vast stationary fish traps were placed in the path of spawning salmon, mostly on the US side of the border.

The fish were so plentiful that even men using lines or nets from small boats could catch prodigious numbers of salmon. Charles Groth, an early settler on Galiano Island, rowed over to fish at the Fraser mouth in 1883. Before falling sick in early August, he had caught close to 7,000 salmon. Fishing with handlines out of his dugout canoe off Quadra Island, one of the Pidcock brothers caught more than 700 salmon in a single day in 1905.

Hundreds of small boats powered only by sail and oar fished at the mouth of the Fraser River around the turn of the twentieth century. Image A-03941 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

With so many fish being caught, the canning industry grew rapidly and by the late 1880s the Strait’s canned salmon was moving by ship around the world and by rail to eastern North America. New cold-storage technology also meant that higher-value fresh fish could be shipped to eastern markets starting in the 1890s, but canned salmon remained the most important commodity. The number of canneries at the Fraser mouth increased from twelve in 1880 to over fifty by 1900. New canneries were built on the east coast of Vancouver Island as well, on Burrard Inlet and at more isolated outposts around the Strait (see Figure 9). But Fraser River Sockeye (see photographs here and here) remained the heart of the industry. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the size of the Strait Sockeye run determined global salmon prices. Table 2 illustrates the industry’s development in those years.

An exceptionally large cohort of Sockeye typically returns to the Fraser every four years, and 1893, 1897, 1905 and 1913 were four such “big years.” In 1892 (a small year), the canneries’ pack of tinned salmon was ten times what it had been in the mid-1870s. The following year, the big year of 1893, the pack was 150 percent bigger. Although more modest than 1893, the packs in 1894 and 1895 were a large increase from 1892. And the pack of 1896, which was not a big year, exceeded even 1893’s big-year catch. During the summer of 1896, the DMF steamer Quadra described “an immense number of fishing boats on the Fraser River, the Gulf of Georgia being completely covered with them for miles.”6 Then came 1897, another big year, and the biggest pack yet recorded. The big years of 1905 and 1913 continued to show substantial increases. But by 1913, the Fraser River Sockeye’s share in the overall pack had already diminished.

By the early 1900s, prices were falling as BC’s canneries faced growing competition around the Pacific from Russian, Japanese and US canners. In response they increased mechanisation, further augmenting their production capacities. As in lumbering, such technological advances contributed to periodic wasteful “overproduction” in the fisheries.

Table 2. Salmon canning in coastal BC, selected years, 1892–19137
Year Total BC salmon pack (48-pound cases) Of which, cases from Fraser River canneries
1892 228,000 not available
1893 590,000 not available
1894 494,000 not available
1895 566,000 not available
1896 602,000 357,000
1897 1,024,000 877,000
1903 473,674 204,809*
1905 1,167,450 837,489*
1913 1,353,900 684,600*

Figure 9. Sites on the Strait with one or more canneries in 1914. These canneries were transforming the inland sea’s seemingly inexhaustible fish populations into commodities.

Federal fishery authorities established complex relationships with the Strait’s fishers and canners during the resource rush, and with the governments in Victoria, Washington state and Washington, DC. The intensity of intergovernmental struggle reflected the great value of this fishery. After 1900, even as fishing was eclipsed by the Strait’s rapidly growing forest industry, it also became the most valuable fishery in the Dominion. Ottawa led negotiations with the US and Washington state over rights and responsibilities related to the Fraser Sockeye. Some estimated that the stationary fish traps on the US side of the border were catching most of the fish, which led to growing complaints that Americans were taking all “our” salmon. When the Fraser Sockeye runs were big, hundreds of thousands of fish caught in those traps were simply thrown away because the canneries they were feeding lacked the capacity to process them. Canners at the Fraser mouth responded by launching hundreds more small boats to catch the fish that had eluded the traps. In Victoria, fishers set their own traps on the Strait of Juan de Fuca to gather the salmon before they reached US waters. Both sides recognised that the existing situation was unsustainable and continued to negotiate “fish sharing,” but it took several more decades to reach a formal agreement.

A Fraser River fish cannery in the 1890s: the industry was heavily dependent on Indigenous labour in the boats and the canneries. Image B-02522 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

The great value of salmon also contributed to smaller-scale conflicts. There was ongoing intimidation and “net theft” among competing fishers at the Fraser mouth, especially in small years when fish were scarcer and prices higher. Ottawa, though concerned, insisted that policing the fishers was a provincial responsibility, while the province had little or no presence on the sea. In reality, the fishing industry on the Strait in the late nineteenth century was remarkably unfettered by regulation. The federal Fisheries Act, which came into force in BC in 1878, governed the West Coast fisheries. Ten years later, fishing licences were required. By the 1890s, Canada’s fishery authorities placed more regulations on fishing gear and the times and places different types of fishermen might fish. Ottawa still had little capacity to enforce such regulations, however. During the 1890s, the DMF had just two “fishery guardians” on the Strait, both at the Fraser mouth. Yet disputes with American fishers through this period often focused on the even weaker controls south of the border. As a result, Ottawa began to loosen controls on Canadian fishers and canners after 1900 in an attempt to ensure they were not disadvantaged in their competition with the Americans.

This 1913 photo is entitled “Richmond; BC Canneries; 35,000 Sockeye Salmon.” The landslide at Hells Gate on the Fraser River that year would prevent Sockeye from swimming upriver to spawn, and catches of Fraser Sockeye would not reach 1913 levels again in the twentieth century. Image E-05031 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Ottawa also struggled with Victoria about jurisdiction over the fishery. The province and the local board of trade complained that Ottawa was earning far more from the West Coast fishery than it invested in it. Shortly before World War I, after two Royal Commissions on the fishery, Victoria and Ottawa still had a list of disputes awaiting resolution by the Imperial Privy Council in London. They had agreed that both levels of government could require fishers to purchase licences for gillnetting ($5 each) and setting salmon trap nets ($75), purse seines ($50) and drag seines ($25). Canneries (see photograph here) had to pay Ottawa $50 and Victoria $100 for their annual licences. The province also taxed the canneries for their land, and the fishers for every fish they caught in traps.

Over the long run, probably the most damaging outcome of federal-provincial discord over fisheries was Victoria’s consistent failure to control the damage done to the fishery by the forest industry. Roderick Haig-Brown later suggested that logging damage to spawning beds and rivers had already contributed to reducing the size of three of the four cyclical big-year spawns of Fraser Sockeye between 1901 and 1913. Similar damage occurred in many other watersheds around (and beyond) the sea during the decades of intensive logging that followed. Federal fisheries authorities were unable to convince the province to control it.

As early as 1888, the Colonist newspaper reported the local board of trade’s concern that salmon needed protection from overfishing. When catches rose in the big years, canneries worked day and night, and prices fell, sometimes to a few cents per fish. The only way for fishers to maintain their income was to increase their catch. Sometimes canneries then stopped buying fish altogether, leading to an appalling waste of fish as the surplus catch was dumped. During the small years, canneries slowed down their production but salmon prices rose and fishers might earn as much as thirty or forty cents per fish—which encouraged them to catch as many as possible. The naturally erratic nature of salmon runs combined with growing fishing pressure and signs of declining catches all stimulated demand for conservation measures.

“Seeding the beds”: stripping salmon of their eggs at an early Fraser River fish hatchery. Image A-03957 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

A Royal Commission on the salmon fishery and ongoing negotiations with the Americans both provided a forum for debate and negotiations among industry stakeholders in the early years of the new century. There was disagreement within the commission, however, on how best to deal with overfishing and declining fish stocks. A “minority report” issued by dissident members of the 1908 Royal Commission complained that the commission’s official report had ignored declining catches, especially on the Fraser. The dissenters maintained that more efficient equipment, combined with bigger nets and wider-ranging fleets, was causing stocks to decline, and they called for complete bans on fishing at certain times during the spawning season and for more effort to “seed the beds,” in which young salmon would be raised in nurseries and then released into spawning streams. These ideas reflected the emerging views of federal fisheries managers, who had also begun to consider establishing some maximum level of sustained yield.

The Deep Bay Cannery (seen here in the 1910s), at the south end of Baynes Sound on Vancouver Island, had been the site of a whaling operation in the 1860s. A dogfish-rendering plant there sickened neighbours in the 1940s. Today, it is the site of a provincially funded shellfish industry research centre. Image E-06456 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

By 1900, sustaining fisheries with hatcheries had become a powerful idea internationally. Although early fisheries managers knew little about the life cycle of Pacific salmon, the DMF was operating hatcheries on the Great Lakes and in the St. Lawrence River by the 1870s. Its first salmon hatchery on the Fraser was built in 1884; seven more followed over the next fifty years. Canners built a few others, mostly in the final years before World War I. Hatcheries had become popular in the lower Columbia River basin of the US a little earlier because they appeared to guarantee an endless supply of fish, thereby ensuring economic progress while easing conflicts over the resource. The allure for Canadian fisheries managers was that it was easier to manage hatcheries than to control the fishing industry. The BC Board of Trade also believed in the virtues of hatcheries. In fact, it attributed a particularly large catch on the Fraser in 1897 to fish raised in a hatchery established there in 1884. And it demanded that Ottawa spend more of its revenues from fisheries to build more hatcheries on the Fraser and other BC rivers.

Disaster struck the Strait’s salmon fishery in 1913. A mishap during railway construction at Hells Gate in the Fraser Canyon blocked the river channel through which millions of Sockeye and Pink salmon normally migrated on the way to their spawning beds, vastly reducing the number of salmon returning to the river to spawn in future years. The Hells Gate slide helped create greater awareness of the pressing need for sound stewardship of this resource among fisheries scientists in particular. The fishers themselves adapted by moving their boats to other river mouths and adopting ever more efficient technologies.

The changing geography of salmon fishing in the interwar years

The early development of the commercial salmon-fishing industry on the Strait closely mirrored the path taken by the forestry industry, a pattern that continued during the interwar years. As salmon became depleted—particularly at the Fraser mouth—and other stocks around the inland sea where fishing had previously been concentrated began to decrease, larger gas-powered fishing boats and other new technologies made it easier for fishers to move to new fishing grounds beyond the Strait. At the same time, firms seeking economies of scale centralised their fish processing at larger facilities. Government efforts to manage the fisheries were outpaced, as usual, by technological improvements.

The only people with a long-standing tradition of fishing on the Strait were Indigenous fishers, and their traditions had been virtually regulated out of existence by the 1920s. Yet a distinctive fishing culture—a combination of intense individuality and solidarity among people facing the dangers of the work—had emerged in the settler fishery. Writer Frederick Marsh would later muse about the Strait’s fishermen, who, “like loggers, live their lives wrestling with natural forces… [but are] often even more individualistic because their work is more lonely.” Describing the sea and the wind, Marsh wrote: “They impress men’s souls, not with any easy optimism, but with a sense of underlying mystery and even terror.”8

Francis John Barrow’s summer cruises in the 1930s took him among thousands of these commercial fishers (see photograph here), and he documented them and the canneries in action. He found fishers of different ethnic groups, each given to their own particular fishing methods, types of fish, fishing grounds and organisations representing them. Indigenous and Japanese Canadian fishers, for example, gillnetted for the canneries around the Strait, catching mostly Sockeye, Pink and Chum. Japanese Canadians dominated this niche at the Fraser mouth. In contrast, white fishers trolled for Spring and Coho around the Strait. And both whites and Indigenous fishers resented competition from Japanese Canadian boats in the local salmon (and herring) fisheries as well as competition from Japan’s national fishery in international markets. During World War II, political agitation and increasing re-sentment culminated in the government removing the Japanese Canadian fishers and selling their boats very cheaply. They, like Indigenous people who fished for food, made particularly convenient targets when fishing was bad.

Fishing boats at Galiano Island in the 1930s: Thousands of diesel- or gas-powered boats plied the Strait, supplying the canneries, the fresh fish market and the workers’ own families. Image B-07318 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Salmon fishing and canning remained the lucrative heart of the Strait’s commercial fishery, and the canneries were thriving again by the mid-1920s. They had largely recovered from the shock of the Hells Gate slide, thanks to abundant salmon runs on other rivers and higher prices for fish in international markets. In 1928, two local fish-packing plants merged to form British Columbia Packers Ltd., which dominated the fishing industry along the West Coast of Canada for decades. Export markets for canned salmon remained good through the 1920s, but the economic downturn of the 1930s and Japanese competition in the British market forced the company into receivership and the closure of many of its plants. By 1939, however, BC Packers had rebounded on the strength of its exports to many other countries.

Canneries began to concentrate more around the mouths of the Fraser and Skeena rivers in the interwar years, but the overall number of canneries on the coast began to decline, from ninety in 1917 to thirty-six in 1928. This number held steady through the 1930s but fell to twenty-seven by the late 1940s. There was no decline in canning capacity, however. By 1939 the remaining fish plants were considerably more mechanised and packed four times as much fish as they had a generation earlier. Fishing boats, too, were faster and larger, and were powered by gas and equipped with on-board refrigeration technology. Instead of the small gillnetters that had earlier landed most fish, more of the catch was being taken by larger seine boats. This new equipment allowed more fishers to fish in more locations, including the mouths of the Strait’s many spawning rivers. They then moored their boats in dispersed home ports after selling their catch. Fish buyers often followed them to the fishing grounds and then returned with their purchases to canneries at the Fraser mouth.

This new geography of the fishing industry was enabled by evolving technology, but it was also made necessary by changes in supply and demand. Sockeye catches on the Fraser before the 1913 slide had averaged around 9 million fish per year, whereas the average from 1914 to 1949 was just 2.4 million. In 1913, the overall catch of Sockeye and Pink at the Fraser mouth had been 29 million fish. In the next big years of 1917 and 1921, due to the Hells Gate slide, these numbers fell to less than 7 million and 2 million fish, respectively. Up to 1913, the industry had produced between a million and 1.4 million cases of tinned salmon in big years, of which 50 to 80 percent had been Fraser Sockeye. In 1925, which ought to have been a big year, only about 30,000 cases (or less than 2 percent) of the coast’s overall pack of 1.7 million cases contained Fraser Sockeye. In 1936, a relatively big year for Fraser River Sockeye, about 170,000 of almost 1.9 million cases contained Fraser Sockeye. However, this number was still less than 10 percent of the total BC pack. It would take decades, and much international negotiation and regulation, for the Fraser Sockeye runs to approach earlier levels.

Despite the sudden decline in Fraser Sockeye stocks, global demand for salmon continued to grow through and after World War I, and the local industry responded by rapidly expanding catches of other salmon. To keep the catch growing, fishing for Pink, Coho, Chinook and Chum—as well as other fish species—increased on other reaches of the Strait and beyond. And this diversification meant, among other things, a longer fishing season. Continued growth in the salmon catch reflected the broader trend on North America’s west coast, where the annual pack expanded from 2,000 to 10 million cases between 1870 and 1920.

Norman Safarik spent his life processing fish in Vancouver, and his memoirs provide rich detail about salmon trolling in the 1920s and ’30s, the period he called the “salad days” of fishing on the Strait. Up to 1,500 trollers, mostly boats 10 or 11 metres long, operated on the inland sea by the mid-1930s. They fished most reaches of the Strait, even trolling in Vancouver Harbour when the weather kept them from going farther offshore. From May through January, they fished for Coho and Spring salmon; in August and September, for Pink. For processors such as Safarik, Coho were the most prized fish because of their firm, bright red meat. Coho spawned in the innumerable little streams spilling into all parts of the Strait and fed on the rich populations of herring and shrimp.

By the interwar period, both salmon fishing and processing on the Strait were heavily regulated. Ottawa governed the fishery and exports, but Victoria still regulated fish processing and commerce within the province. The federal government tried to influence the distribution of canneries on the coast but lost its right to license canneries in 1929 when the Privy Council in London ruled that the province alone had jurisdiction over the canneries. Meanwhile, twelve government boats cruised the Canadian side of the border by 1915, alert to depredations of US-based boats taking “Canadian” salmon. Yet the fish migrating to the Fraser were not inclined to respect the border. Concerns about depletion of migratory stocks, particularly Sockeye, finally resulted in a treaty between Canada and the US, and a new international governing body to oversee the fishery. Formed in 1937, the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission (IPSFC) was tasked with controlling the Sockeye fishery, its goal being to divide the catch between Canadian and US fishers in a way that would ensure enough escapement of spawning fish to restore stocks to their earlier abundance. The very long negotiations that had led to the creation of this commission also helped to finally abolish Washington state’s stationary salmon traps in 1935.

William Sloan, the head of a provincial fisheries commission looking into the salmon fishery, delivered an eloquent warning about the dangers of overfishing. His 1919 report called for a shift to more efficient fisheries management, inspired by conservationist principles: “We have overdone the thing,” said Sloan. “We have drawn, and are drawing, too heavily upon our supply of salmon [and what]…we need is a complete and radical change of policy.” He went on to call for government to “step in and take over our salmon fisheries and administer them for the benefit of the people as a whole.” The West Coast salmon fisheries, Sloan said, “will last for all time if they are properly handled.” Foreshadowing later messages from fisheries biologists and advocates like Haig-Brown, Sloan insisted that depleted runs could be restored as long as enough fish were allowed to reach the spawning beds. On the other hand, he warned, this rich fishery would “entirely disappear if left to corporate and individual control [only]…to satisfy the short sighted greed of a small minority.”9

Despite Sloan’s concerns, salmon harvesting expanded rapidly beyond the Fraser mouth through the 1920s and 1930s, when thousands of fishermen around the sea were utterly dependent on commercial and subsistence fishing to sustain their families. Then came World War II, when the canneries operated “at a fever pitch” to supply guaranteed markets. Whatever conservation had been achieved was relaxed, and “virtually every catchable salmon” was pursued and canned. What was bad for conservation was good for the canneries (Sloan’s “greedy minority”). They would not only contribute to the war effort but also re-establish their share of the British market lost earlier to the Japanese.

Fisheries research activities around the inland sea during the interwar years

A federal fisheries research centre was set up in Nanaimo in the 1870s, as the federal Department of Marine and Fisheries began to establish a modest presence on the West Coast, but until 1924 it had only one full-time scientist—the director. In those early years, most of the scientific research was carried out in the summer months by visiting scholars; however, by 1932, the centre’s year-round scientific staff had grown to eleven. Almost from the moment of their arrival, federal fisheries authorities had proposed artificial propagation of salmon as a means to both increase stocks and “smooth out” the huge variations in Sockeye populations returning to the Fraser River. Yet early in the twentieth century, some Canadian fishery experts and their counterparts in the American Pacific Northwest began to question the real impact of hatcheries. Despite their reservations, more and more salmon fry continued to be produced in hatcheries on the BC coast. By the time Canadian fisheries scientists finally concluded that these hatcheries were having little effect on the size of salmon runs, fry production had reached over two billion annually, mostly Sockeye and mostly in the Fraser Basin.

Salmon catches were being maintained, most scientists now believed, not because the stocks were being artificially regenerated but because more fishers were covering a larger area and catching species such as Chum and Pink that had previously been considered less desirable. Similar patterns would emerge in many parts of the world later in the century. Many people in the fishing industry suggested that the solution to stock depletion was not to build more hatcheries but—as Sloan had suggested in 1919—to allow enough wild fish to escape the fishery and reach spawning beds, where they could reproduce and keep up future population levels. Others viewed this “depletionist” narrative as alarmist, feeling that it ignored the improvements that had been achieved. They argued that this pessimism did not allow for what the optimists euphemistically described as “the readjustment” after 1913. That is, if one made allowances for the huge reduction in catches on the Fraser since the Hells Gate slide and recognised that innovative approaches had ensured that catches increased elsewhere, then things didn’t look too bad. A federal report on the Strait’s fisheries published in 1940, perhaps aiming for a compromise, suggested the truth lay somewhere between these two views. As in the forest sector, conservation concerns took a back seat to the need to pull out all the stops in support of the war effort during World War II. The debate over the best way forward would heat up again in the post-war years.

Salmon on the Strait after 1945: familiar challenges, great plans and aquaculture

Fishing intensified rapidly around the world after 1945, and this trend was reflected on the Strait. Over the whole BC coast, the marine fishery employed close to 20,000 people in boats and processing plants into the 1960s, and the industry remained important for many of the province’s coastal communities. In the early 1960s, fishers in BC were landing an average of nearly 300,000 tons a year, worth almost $40 million, or a third of Canada’s total commercial fishery earnings. Salmon accounted for two-thirds of this BC catch by value, herring and halibut most of the rest. Of these species, only halibut was not being fished commercially on the Strait. Yet by the early 1970s, the fishing industry on the inland sea, as elsewhere on the West Coast, had come to be viewed in Ottawa and Victoria as a marginal “problem sector” in need of “rationalisation.”

Trends in salmon fishing on the inland sea were broadly similar to global ones. Maintaining yields was requiring ever more technology and capital. Between 1945 and 1955, equipment investments per fisherman tripled as fishers invested in innovations such as mechanised drums to draw in nets and sonar to locate fish, both of which increased the risk of overfishing. Similarly, rapid marine transport and brine refrigeration technology adopted after World War II made it feasible to freeze fish for later canning, which sped up the centralisation and closure of fish plants and changed the nature of fish processing. Yet regulations on the Strait, especially before the 1960s, did not do enough to respond to these innovations, which increased the range, mobility and efficiency of the salmon fleet and changed its composition. With fish stocks declining in many places around the Strait, many small-scale fishers were forced out and quit fishing because they found themselves ever less able to compete with the larger boats carrying more sophisticated gear and ranging over more of the inland sea—and increasingly, beyond it.

Changing technologies affected the canneries too. Some of the bigger ones began to invest in large-scale cold-storage facilities that allowed them to extend their processing seasons. And they began to concentrate again, as they had in the nineteenth century, around the mouth of the Fraser: by 1970, 40 percent of Canada’s West Coast canneries were located there. By setting up near Vancouver, they could better cope with seasonal peaks and dips in the demand for labour; the Lower Mainland’s available and flexible workforce allowed them to operate more efficiently than smaller canneries elsewhere on the Strait. Writing in the 1950s, Haig-Brown had correctly predicted the disappearance of the coast’s many isolated canneries. Between 1920 and 1970, the total number of canneries on the whole BC coast fell from over sixty to fifteen. One result was that, while the number of canneries located on the Strait declined from fourteen to seven, this lower number now represented almost 50 percent of Canada’s West Coast canneries.

The coastal fleet congregated around the canneries, but though most boats were now registered at Lower Mainland ports, far less commercial fishing took place at the Fraser mouth. Almost three-quarters of the 5,500 vessels fishing the BC coast in the early 1970s operated out of ports on the Strait, most of them in Greater Vancouver. The wholesale value of the salmon caught along the coast in that period ranged from $100 million to $220 million each year, yet the average annual value of the catch on the Strait was barely $30 million. The adjacent North Vancouver Island/Mid Coast–Queen Charlotte Islands region, with less than 15 percent of the coast’s registered fish boats, accounted for over half its catch.

As it had through most of the century, the Strait’s salmon harvest varied greatly from year to year after World War II, both in size and value. For example, catches in the four seasons from 1968 through 1971 ranged between 26,000 and over 59,000 tons, their values from $15 million to over $44 million. The following year, the Vancouver Sun reported the annual salmon pack was down nearly 30 percent on the year before.10 The debate about this resembled the one over the once vast Columbia River fishery. The participants were the same—the different types of fishers, the fish processors, the citizens’ groups and the officials from various levels of government—and they demonstrated the same selective memory and propensity to blame others rather than share responsibility for effectively managing the resource. Their tactics, as in the Columbia fishery, included making scapegoats and caricatures of their opponents and marginalising the weaker ones. On the Columbia, geographer Jay Taylor concluded in Making Salmon, “Complexity and contingency evaporated through deliberate acts of amnesia. Political myopia infected every group in the debate.” The same could be said of the dialogue about salmon fishing on the Strait after 1945.

No evidence or expert opinion could change the minds of resource economists in the 1960s and ’70s who identified overfishing as the overwhelming cause of most declining salmon stocks. Commercial fishermen, for their part, focused on causes other than overfishing, which few of them saw as a major problem. Fishers felt that placing increasing restrictions on their fishing was a way of “blaming the victim” for declining salmon stocks. Geoff Meggs, an outspoken advocate for commercial fishermen, suggested in his book Salmon that the main problem in the 1980s salmon fishery was its ongoing domination by a processing industry that dictated fishery policy. The salmon, said Meggs, were BC’s “canary in the mine,” indicators of a dangerous situation in coastal waters. Despite “overwhelming evidence that salmon runs are in crisis because of environmental destruction,” the “corporate conservationists,” he said, continued to insist the main problem was commercial fishers’ overfishing. And so on. About the only thing the different players agreed on was the enormous potential value of salmon fishing. In one of his last articles, Haig-Brown claimed that a “fully rehabilitated” Fraser River could yield catches of 22 to 33 million salmon every second year.11 Unfortunately, their complex life cycle made such “rehabilitation” challenging and created endless opportunities for key stakeholders to blame each other for the fishery’s decline.

Salmon science, “enhancement” and hatcheries

Fisheries science gained prestige after World War II as a result of the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission’s (IPSFC) success in rebuilding the Fraser Sockeye and Pink runs that had earlier been devastated by the Hells Gate slide. Fisheries biologists were increasingly at odds with resource economists, however, over the best ways to manage salmon stocks. IPSFC scientists were aware of the challenges of rehabilitation. Spawning Fraser Sockeye had to run a gauntlet of fishing fleets—in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in Puget Sound and again around the Fraser mouth. Each fleet had the capacity, if uncontrolled, to catch virtually every returning fish, so local fisheries scientists were understandably proud of this stock’s slow recovery in the 1940s and ’50s. They had carried out research to support innovative “fish ladders” at Hells Gate and elsewhere, removed obstructions, ensured improved pollution control at new pulp mills built on the Upper Fraser, brought a number of vestigial salmon runs back from the edge of extinction and created many effective spawning channels and incubation ponds.

These and other “salmon enhancement” activities were designed, in one way or another, to expand salmon populations and increase the number of fish that could survive in spawning streams and then reach the sea, grow to adulthood and be available to commercial or sport fishers before the survivors returned to spawn. During the early post-war decades, salmon enhancement shared the good reputation of fisheries science in general. Haig-Brown, writing in the 1950s, described how salmon populations on tributaries of the Fraser—such as the Stuart, Bowron and Horsefly rivers—that had seen their spawns almost wiped out after 1913 were now growing rapidly. The Quesnel River spawn increased from a thousand fish in 1941 to 600,000 in 1953, with 2 million predicted for 1957. Sockeye returns to the Adams River were expected to reach 18 million fish by 1958, yielding 8 million for the commercial fishery. Haig-Brown was convinced that “the work of the Commission would restore the Fraser runs to their former abundance [and that] with…effective construction measures and the elimination of watershed abuses, the Fraser salmon runs will become greater than they ever were in recorded time.”12

In addition to carefully engineered and protected watersheds and hatcheries, restoring depleted Fraser River stocks also involved elaborate controls. Instead of fishing on the Strait being allowed most months of the year, commercial fishers were restricted to fewer months, and within these months fishing was closed for certain periods each week. Net use was increasingly regulated and certain areas, mostly close to the mouth of spawning rivers, were closed to fishing altogether. Government officials had flexibility in applying these provisions, depending on the estimated size of the spawning population, and could close a fishery entirely if necessary to allow enough fish to reach the spawning beds. Officials also attempted to control predatory seals and sea lions around the mouth of spawning rivers. All of these strategies were consistent with what UBC fisheries biologist Peter Larkin described as the “standard religion of Pacific salmon research and management,” a creed of salmon husbandry formulated by the 1930s that persisted for four decades.13 It called for research into salmon biology, implementation of catch regulations to ensure a “sustained yield” and enough protection of the environment to permit effective spawning. Hatcheries might be used, sparingly, to augment natural production and mitigate the effects of earlier flaws in regulation and protection.

In the late 1960s, however, salmon culture techniques that had been disparaged by federal fisheries authorities as ineffective in the mid-1930s—particularly the use of hatcheries to maintain stocks—became the object of renewed hope in the industry. Haig-Brown reminded biologists in 1965, “If you have a viable natural stock, don’t write it off and say we can plant another; you just may not be able to.”14 He and many scientists still believed that hatcheries should be the solution only when all others had failed and that too much dependence on them to maintain stocks would likely create as many problems as it solved. Instead, he suggested that protection and improvement of spawning habitat—controlling stream flows and temperatures, improving spawning gravels and removing obstructions—would give far better results. Echoing Haig-Brown, Larkin called for salmon management “more closely identified with the perspective of the salmon.”15 Regulations, he suggested, should be based on salmon biology, not the demands of human convenience (and economists). New management approaches needed to be experimental and supported by long-term research. “Salmon enhancement” became the ascendant fisheries policy, and despite the misgivings of scientists and conservationists, hatcheries figured prominently in economists’ new strategies for fisheries into the 1970s.

Carl Walters, a UBC fisheries scientist, pointed out that ecological studies else-where in the world had shown good initial results for hatchery-based enhancement followed by longer-term declines in the fish stocks, sometimes to levels below those at the start of the enhancement projects. He noted that hatcheries might initially increase the size of the fish population, but that this gain was often offset by fishers investing in more efficient gear and changing the timing and location of their fishing in the longer term to harvest this new, larger population. The systems within which these fisheries were conducted, warned Walters, were so complex that any enhancement activity had to be viewed as a huge experiment rather than industry and scientists pretending a level of understanding that didn’t exist. In fact, these initiatives required decades of careful monitoring to determine their outcomes.16

This type of humility might be good science but it was neither familiar nor comfortable for resource economists, much less for politicians whose re-election might depend on guaranteeing improvements in fish catches. Scientists pointed to tremendous uncertainty surrounding a salmon’s life in the open ocean, highlighting essentially unknown factors there that could affect population dynamics. In contrast, resource economists wanted to enhance fish stocks on some rivers so they could sacrifice them on others. Biologists suggested enhancement should focus on rivers where stocks were already reduced, cautioning against “throwing away” any spawning rivers since all were needed to ensure the health of the overall population. These views were particularly unwelcome, of course, among proponents of new hydroelectric dams in the Fraser River basin, such as BC Hydro chairman Gordon Shrum.

Scientists were not rejecting hatcheries and salmon enhancement outright, and even Haig-Brown conceded that in badly degraded watersheds, they might be a solution of last resort. But BC, he reiterated, should not be looking for last resorts. He described hatcheries as a “patent medicine panacea” that was especially inappropriate for keeping stocks high over long periods of time: they were expensive and polluting, and they bred diseases that could spread to wild stocks. They dangerously reduced genetic diversity in salmon populations. These drawbacks tended to get worse over time and they threatened to divert resources from better enhancement approaches. Achieving large, healthy salmon stocks required “doing it the hard way”—protecting and managing wild stocks, their spawning streams and the land around them. Here he ran up against fisheries authorities, who claimed they didn’t know enough about stream rehabilitation to undertake it on a large scale. Haig-Brown countered that they had literally thousands of damaged streams to experiment with, and while they didn’t know everything about restoring them, they knew enough to get started.

Provincial leaders, who depended heavily on forest industry revenues and were committed to dam construction, were more comfortable with the economists’ talk of hatchery-based enhancement than the biologists’ “excessive caution.” Much science would eventually be applied to various enhancement strategies, but most of them were a messy mix of science, resource economics and politics.

Salmon governance, the Salmonid Enhancement Program & after

It was clear to many fisheries biologists that careful, flexible, multi-faceted and responsive fisheries policies were required to control the impacts of technological advances on fish stocks. Implementing such policies required political will, however. As in the past, such will was hard to come by, particularly across federal-provincial lines. While Ottawa controlled the salmon fishery, Victoria controlled land-based activities—including logging, farming, dam building, industrial and urban develop-ment—that had significant impacts on salmon habitat. Provincial fisheries authorities appreciated the need to protect salmon streams, but managers in most other sectors, especially the dominant forest sector, more or less ignored the issue.

Fish boats in Vancouver Harbour in 1948, before “rationalisation” of the coastal fishing fleet had occurred. Image D-02639 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

It was in this challenging context that federal fisheries authorities began to pursue strategies aimed at “maximising economic returns” from the salmon fishery. By the late 1960s, identifying the “common property” nature of the fishery as one of its main problems, they limited access to it by reducing the number of commercial fishing licences available. Their goal was to force “inefficient” smaller operators (see photograph here)—many of them Indigenous fishers—out of the commercial fishery. As Geoff Meggs described it, resource economists were unfettered by any understanding of the salmon fishery’s socio-cultural and biological complexities. To them it appeared to be “an enormous government and corporate effort to reap a relatively modest volume of fish”; the fishing industry accounted for 3.5 percent of the province’s jobs but only 1.5 percent of its wealth.17 From an economist’s perspective, too many fishermen were going after too few fish. Their gear was increasingly costly and its efficiency was leading to ever-shorter fishing seasons. They were plagued by foreign competitors on the outside coast and competition from sport fishers on the Strait. Generous unemployment insurance and affordable fishing licences meant too many “marginal fishermen” were attracted to the fishery. These and many other factors, said the economists, were making it difficult to manage the fisheries “scientifically.” For the economists, reducing the number of licences seemed the only logical response.

Peter Pearse, a resource economist whose advice helped guide the new licensing process, summarised the major ideas underlying the new strategy. First, the fishery ought to achieve the greatest possible sustained yield of fish from the most efficient possible use of labour and capital. Therefore, eliminating “inefficient” fishermen from the fleet would increase the “health” of the industry. Second, a complementary “salmon enhancement program” would ensure healthy stocks.18 The economists’ prescriptions initially seemed to have the desired effect. Stimulated by huge growth in demand from the Japanese, the coastal fishing industry saw record-high salmon prices, earnings and profits between 1973 and 1980. Yet by the 1980s, too many fishers were once again going after too few fish. Another Royal Commission warned that the coastal fishing fleet still had far more capacity than was needed to harvest the available fish.19

The 1970s marked the apogee of post-war government intervention in the economy. Victoria had begun to worry in the 1960s that the province was not involved enough in fisheries issues and called for enhanced provincial capacity for fisheries management. The result was a Marine Resources Branch established within the province’s new Ministry of Environment in the 1970s, and subsequently a Memorandum of Understanding with federal counterparts in 1975 on a Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP) that defined their respective roles with regard to marine fisheries on the sea. The SEP promoted the idea of expanding hatcheries on rivers around the Strait while also trying to better protect fish habitat and control pollution.

A federal-provincial agreement was a critical requirement for the SEP because it called for sweeping improvements in the way the province’s coastal watersheds were managed. Federal planners recognised that the restrictions on forestry, mining and waste dumping called for in the SEP would mean direct costs to the province. They suggested these costs should be part of the province’s contribution to the SEP. Provincial fisheries officials had limited control over such things, however, and Victoria did little to encourage other sectors to participate.

In the early 1970s, federal authorities called for massive expansion of their earlier successes in restoring salmon on the Fraser. They maintained that Sockeye catches there could be tripled and the Pink catch increased up to eight times. Resource economists proposed a seductive, flexible approach known as “no net loss,” which allowed fish habitat to be destroyed in some salmon streams as long as it could be compensated by increased production through “enhancement” of other streams. The economists, though not the biologists, believed that hatcheries could ratchet up production as required in those compensatory streams. When Ottawa began its detailed planning of the SEP in the mid-1970s, the first five years of operations were expected to cost $150 million, and the total cost over a decade up to $300 million. Government officials predicted salmon production would double in the Strait and the Fraser watershed in ten years. Federal fisheries Minister Roméo LeBlanc said the SEP was “an exciting example of man’s ability to enhance, rather than endanger, an invaluable natural resource.” He explained that salmon catches on the West Coast had reached 360 million pounds a year early in the twentieth century but had fallen to half that amount as a result of “environmental damage and overfishing.” Without the SEP, he maintained, salmon production of 145 million pounds a year would fall by 20 to 30 percent over the next two decades. But the “application of fish culture technology” (i.e., hatcheries) could reverse this trend, he said, and “increase production of salmonids by at least 190 million pounds annually.”20

Ottawa recognised that the SEP would be challenging. However, Canada was said to have unique advantages over other countries that practised this technique, including its “high proportion of unspoiled natural streams, strong fishing and processing capacity…and a leadership role in the broad application of fish culture technology.” The SEP would draw on diverse enhancement techniques, many of them “developed in Canada,” including spawning channels, hatcheries, “fishways,” stream modification, rearing ponds and incubation boxes. These would be combined with “new and promising techniques,” such as lake and stream “enrichment.” At the same time, officials discouraged salmon fishers and processors from making further capital investments, stating they already had the capacity to catch all the predicted increases in salmon. The government worried that fishers putting new money into fishing equipment would diminish the economic returns on the government’s investment; it didn’t speculate about the possible impacts on salmon stocks.21

The list of the SEP’s prospective benefits was long, according to government authorities. By the end of the century, increased production was predicted to be worth close to $500 million (in 1976 dollars), up from less than $200 million in the mid-1970s. The program could create more than 4 million days of employment and opportunities for local and visiting anglers and tourists. Guides, marinas and other services were expected to benefit, as would many small communities. Tensions between commercial and recreational fishers would be reduced, particularly on the Strait, where recreational demand for salmon was concentrated. It was suggested that Indigenous people would have more fishing income, more food fish and more jobs in fishing and fish processing. The program would improve citizens’ mental and physical health as the public got the opportunity to participate in the enhancement. Canada’s balance of payments would improve, and welfare and unemployment insurance claims would decline. Advocates stopped short of promising a salmon-related cure for cancer, but they definitely painted a more encouraging picture than the biologists’ gloomy “uncertainty” scenario. Peter Larkin called it “typically Canadian” and described it as “a creeping approach…[involving] a half-hearted commitment to science, a weak kneed approach to licence limitation, a blunt elbowed approach to international negotiations, a soft headed approach to subsidies and a long winded approach to planning.” Instead, Larkin said, the industry needed “hyper modern, super efficient, technology rich fisheries” that could bring down world fish prices while increasing sales.22

In the end, the SEP was launched in 1977. Of the eleven hatcheries producing “sport fish”—Chinook and Coho—that were being developed or had been upgraded, nine were on the Strait or the Lower Fraser (see Figure 10). The following year, plans were made for four more salmon-rearing facilities on the Vancouver Island shore.23 Much of the appeal of these SEP hatcheries was their potential to reduce the pressure for more effective conservation and governance, those “other measures” that Haig-Brown and many scientists insisted were far more effective than hatcheries. Concerns about the SEP’s approach soon began to surface, however. There was concern about the possible negative effects of hatchery stocks on wild salmon populations. And, as federal fisheries Minister Roméo LeBlanc explained in 1978, they knew how many fish were entering the sea from rivers and they knew how many were being caught by commercial fishermen, but they didn’t know much about all the other things happening to the salmon. As well, a long-standing international agreement on the Pacific salmon fishery had to be renegotiated with the Americans. And much of the critical fish habitat protection promised in the SEP depended on collaboration with less interested provincial and municipal governments.

Many federal fisheries officers also looked upon the Strait’s rapidly expanding recreational fishery as a threat to commercial fishing interests. Sport fishers were taking an estimated two-thirds of Chinook salmon caught in the Strait. There were concerns as well that Indigenous people’s “food fish” were finding their way onto commercial markets. The SEP had faded by the early 1980s but did not disappear. The dynamics of the salmon fishery, and Ottawa’s inability to control them, continued to plague federal fisheries managers.

Other challenges: forestry, dams, ports, anglers

Many industries had a variety of destructive effects on the Strait’s salmon. It had become recognised globally, for example, that logging damage to streams was among the most important causes of declining fish stocks. Logging had deforested virtually every watershed on the Strait at least once by the 1950s, leaving behind thousands of streams blocked by debris. As a result, countless smaller waterways dried up in summer and became torrents that destroyed spawning beds in winter. In larger streams, too, smaller summer flows had a reduced capacity to sustain juvenile salmon that had adapted to reproducing and spending their early lives in cool, oxygenated, sediment-free streams. By stripping away the vegetation, clogging streams and increasing sedimentation, logging greatly diminished the ability of adult salmon to spawn successfully and juveniles to survive at all.

Roderick Haig-Brown’s work with the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission focused on the Fraser, but he had spent decades watching the Strait’s smaller streams be ravaged by mining, road building, logging and forest fires fuelled by logging waste. Having been a logger himself as a young man, Haig-Brown decried the “fifty years of notoriously destructive logging methods” that had eliminated thousands of salmon spawning runs. Yet he expressed optimism for the future. Logging methods, he said, were “not quite as destructive” as they had been before 1950, and many forests were regenerating. Where necessary, fisheries authorities could stimulate spawning on damaged streams with various grooming techniques and selective artificial regeneration. But he had no faith in authorities’ “pious references…to multiple use” of forests.24

Haig-Brown’s skepticism was well-founded; requests from federal fisheries author-ities that Victoria properly manage the riparian forests surrounding salmon streams were almost never heeded. Following decades of damage, a report to the province’s Marine Resources Branch in 1969 stated: “[The] relationship between streamside vegetation and salmonid stream ecology has been one of the most badly neglected areas of fisheries research in BC.”25 A note to the file in 1970 reported “precious few foresters” recognised that harmful effects of logging on fish could be mitigated by leaving bands of trees around streams undisturbed. Its author, R.G. McMynn, knew the forest industry of which he spoke, and it was a stunning observation a quarter-century after the Sloan Commission had recommended that foresters “leave strips” of intact forest around streams. McMynn, echoing Haig-Brown, hoped that BC’s policies would begin to recognise the effects of logging. Two years later, the Fisheries Research Board noted that although almost no studies had looked at the impact of BC’s logging practices on salmon, such studies were being launched.

Figure 10. Salmon hatcheries developed, upgraded or planned around the Strait by the SEP, 1977.

Haig-Brown reported in 1973 that sport and commercial fishermen had been “remarkably unsuccessful” during decades of trying to keep logging away from streams. He blamed “half hearted, ill-informed and totally inadequate co-operation” between provincial forestry and federal fishery authorities, between provincial departments, and between governments and loggers. Guardedly optimistic about new fisheries legislation to improve stream protection, he worried that Ottawa lacked the capacity to enforce it and that BC’s foresters were not ready to make necessary changes. The only solution he saw was a radical shift in land-use planning, away from the “multiple-use” rhetoric that was contradicted by the province’s policy of devoting entire watersheds to forest monocultures.26

BC’s Pollution Control Board (PCB) had been established in the 1950s to address growing concerns about municipal sewage. The PCB slowly began to consider how best to control pollution created by the forest industry, particularly after it was called upon to do so in the province’s Pollution Control Act of 1967 (chapter 5). An inquiry in 1970 then looked into how the industry might meet the requirements of this act, and by 1972 the PCB had issued “recommended guidelines and objectives for air pollution control, solid waste management and water, for different types of emissions, effluents and solid waste from a range of wood mills and pulp and paper mills.”27 There was no shortage of issues to address once the province was stirred to act. One of Peter Larkin’s graduate students at UBC in the early 1950s had reported, for example, that a single sulphite pulp mill produced a liquid waste stream equivalent to that of a town of 450,000 people. Yet the provincial government consistently appeared to care far more about the financial health of the forestry sector than the marine fishery, and it seemed prepared to sacrifice the fishery for the short-term convenience of forestry. Besides, the commercial salmon fishery was a federal domain and the forest industry had become a far larger economic player with a great deal more clout in Victoria.

Developing BC’s hydroelectricity generation capacity was also a higher priority than the salmon fishery. Dams’ impacts on salmon were well known; they had been described repeatedly since the early 1960s. Dams delayed or prevented spawning and caused temperature fluctuations that affected both spawning fish and incubating eggs. Spillways and turbines killed migrating fish. In the 1950s, provincial and federal fisheries authorities had confronted the BC Power Commission about a dam on the Puntledge River. Provincial specialists worried the dam was damaging the river’s migratory Steelhead, and federal authorities were concerned about spawning Chinook. Provincial biologists maintained: “The destruction of a large proportion of this resource through single-purpose river development for the sake of short term economics is not in the public interest.” They estimated the dam did $30,000 damage a year to the Steelhead run alone,28 yet the commission did nothing in the end to successfully mitigate the damage.

The biggest confrontation was on the Fraser. Demand for electricity and more effective control of spring flooding had risen rapidly after World War II. Geographer Matthew Evenden characterised the struggle that played out there over the next couple of decades as “Fish versus Power.” C.H. Clay, a federal fisheries engineer who had worked on the construction of the Hells Gate fishways, and UBC’s Peter Larkin both vigorously rejected another engineer’s suggestion that fish protection and hatcheries could render hydro dams safe for salmon. Larkin asserted later that the province had done some of the best scientific research on interactions between fisheries and dams of anyone in the world and had concluded that the two could not easily coexist. He invoked the ire of BC Hydro chairman Gordon Shrum, who wanted to know why researchers would accept research funding if they couldn’t solve such problems. Shrum was convinced that science could solve such problems and proposed a five-year “crash program” to do it. Haig-Brown declared that all the IPSFC’s progress and potential for future improvement of the fishery would be “destroyed, wiped out forever, by one high dam on the river’s main channel.”29 The Social Credit government clearly favoured power over fish, yet salmon’s proponents eventually prevailed on the Fraser. This rare victory for the fish resulted from an effective coalition of supporters, from other factors that made investments on the Columbia and Peace River systems more attractive, and from advances in power transmission technologies.

A decade later, the rapid development of port facilities, particularly near the mouth of the Fraser and other rivers around the Strait, caused considerable debate over their potential effects on fish. The effects of dredging on the Fraser were far less ambiguous, however, and in the mid-1970s Environment Canada developed guidelines to control this practice, which disturbed gravel beds and killed virtually all juvenile salmon descending the river. The dredges, however, were still killing salmon and stirring controversy later in the decade.

Sport and commercial salmon fishers confronted one another on the Strait. The commercial fishery was most preoccupied with Sockeye travelling in large schools and living most of their lives in the open ocean, only passing through the Strait on their way to and from spawning rivers. The sport fishery was mostly concerned with Coho and Chinook, species that didn’t move in large schools but did go after anglers’ lures. Most local Chinook spent their entire adult lives in the Strait. The province estimated that by the early 1960s, sport fishers were landing 200,000 to 400,000 Chinook each year, about 1.5 percent of the total salmon catch on the BC coast. BC’s saltwater anglers were estimated to be spending $19 million a year on their sport, the vast majority of it on the Strait.

Haig-Brown suggested in an interview with Imbert Orchard that angling on the inland sea had become “probably the most valuable tourist sport fishery in the world.”30 SEP planners—admittedly prone to hyperbole—estimated 250,000 saltwater anglers on the BC coast by the 1970s, most of them on the Strait. In towns up and down both shores of the inland sea, sport fishing had become a major form of recreation (chapter 6) and a significant element of local economies. The problem was that although commercial fishers caught mostly Sockeye, they also landed substantial numbers of Coho and Chinook. And by the 1960s there was no doubt that when commercial Coho and Chinook catches went up, the sport fishery declined and vice versa. Many felt that the economic return for the province from a Coho or Chinook caught by an angler was far greater than if the same fish were caught by a commercial troller and that the sport fishery should be given priority. An important part of the SEP’s appeal for BC was its promised expansion of Coho and Chinook hatcheries. But the SEP did not reduce tensions between sport and commercial fishermen as much as its proponents had hoped it would.

Salmon farming

After a good decade in the 1970s, commercial salmon fishing declined again in the 1980s and both Ottawa and Victoria became very interested in salmon farming. It was a rare instance when both governments agreed—for the most part, at least—on the right way forward for the fishery. Salmon farming’s emergence around the inland sea in the 1970s and ’80s was a response to a series of factors, and it was much in tune with global changes. For federal officials frustrated by their inability to control BC’s destructive logging practices or sign a new salmon treaty with the US, salmon farming was an attractive alternative. It was perhaps even a panacea that could replace hatcheries. Federal authorities already had a century of experience with fish culture and many were positively predisposed to it. For resource economists, fish farms were like hatcheries, only better. The government would not have to directly manage them, and their fish would not be at the mercy of careless loggers, miners, factories or towns. Provincial fishery officials, also frustrated by endless struggles to control the profligate loggers, welcomed this new way of stimulating fish production. As early as the mid-1960s, Victoria was corresponding with a Vancouver Island entrepreneur who aimed to combine oyster rafts with salmon farming.

The province knew there were challenges associated with salmon farming. It was costly in the 1970s compared with fishing wild stocks, though emerging technology involving open net cages suspended from rafts might change this. Raised in such pens, salmon often became a source of pollution, releasing vast quantities of contaminants—fish feces, food waste and the residue of antibiotics administered to the fish—into the surrounding water. And disease problems inevitably arose when salmon were raised in crowded pens. Ecologists warned of the dangers and instability of fish monocultures that tried to suppress complex ecological interactions in poorly understood environments. These concerns, like those about hatcheries earlier, failed to extinguish excitement about salmon farming’s economic potential.

The province’s new Marine Resources Branch elaborated on the promise of aquaculture on the Strait and in other protected BC waters that were already among the most productive in the North Pacific. Among its virtues, the Strait shared with Puget Sound (today’s South Salish Sea) a sheltered location that was protected from fierce ocean storms. Powerful tidal flows would “provide a flushing…equivalent to immense rivers” to cope with the farms’ waste. Research was looking into transforming this waste into fuel. Cheap sources of feed were available, and the expertise of the federal research station at Nanaimo would support fish farmers on the inland sea. In short, the Strait was well placed to join the “blue revolution,” as aquaculture was being called. Proponents of salmon farming depicted an inevitable transition from marine hunting to marine farming, analogous to the Neolithic Revolution of a few thousand years earlier.

Despite some initial caution, the province’s left-wing government of the day soon became an enthusiastic supporter of salmon aquaculture even before its economic viability had been demonstrated. Salmon farming was seen as the “wave of the future,” and in 1974 the province financed a study looking at how the industry might develop. The report stated that BC’s “unique marine geography” would allow the province to be a leader in fish farming by the end of the century and that the industry would be “environmentally safe” while helping to meet a growing demand for protein. Like the SEP, aquaculture was portrayed as a lifeline for struggling Indigenous communities. They and Premier Dave Barrett’s trade union supporters were to be fully involved in new fish farming projects. One of the few threats facing marine aquaculture development in BC, according to the report, was large American corporations such as Union Carbide, whose growing interest in the technology might make it competition for local salmon farmers.31

Many federal specialists were equally enthusiastic about aquaculture’s potential, though perhaps a little disoriented by BC’s vigorous entry into Ottawa’s maritime domain. They confirmed that oceanographic and coastal conditions in BC were as well suited to marine aquaculture as they were in Norway or Japan, where fish farming was already established. Few projects were under way in BC by the early 1970s, but federal authorities were receiving many inquiries from interested entrepreneurs.

Ottawa’s specialists worried in private about their ability to provide the technical advice and regulatory authority they believed would be necessary to guide a rapid expansion of salmon farming. They felt they needed to develop greater capacity to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases. A pilot fish farm and breeding program would be required to increase growth rates and disease resistance among farmed fish and make their flesh a more attractive colour for consumers. They also needed a feedstock industry, ideally using local cannery waste. Federal specialists were also clear that fish farming ought to supplement the wild fishery, not replace it. Part of aquaculture’s promise was to supply fresh fish to markets in those months when “natural supplies” were unavailable. The new industry would need to be “closely regulated to ensure continued high return from native stocks.” This would involve developing new kinds of expertise from scratch or importing them from elsewhere. They called for a federal budget increase of a billion dollars to cover all required actions.32

Salmon farmers’ early experiences on the Strait confirmed the federal worries, and involved a familiar pattern of federal-provincial squabbling. The Meneely family, described by local papers as “Canadian pioneers,” had developed three operations off the Sechelt Peninsula by 1975. They farmed Coho and Chinook and complained of difficulties obtaining salmon eggs from federal hatcheries. To get expert help, Larry Meneely said, he had been obliged to hire biologists from the federal government’s Nanaimo research station, who then failed to support him and didn’t help him obtain eggs.33 Victoria intervened on his behalf, alarmed that Ottawa seemed able to supply salmon eggs to Union Carbide, an American firm, but not to a local Canadian entrepreneur. The province began to wonder publicly whether federal authorities weren’t trying to impede the development of BC’s aquaculture industry.

The industry got established, however, with ten farms producing a little over 100 metric tons of fish by 1984. Four years later, 118 farms were producing 6,600 tons. Production increased fourfold in the next three years. And the theoretical questions of the 1970s—about feeding these crowded pens of rapidly growing fish and keeping them healthy—had become practical problems. Most answers were worked out by trial and error, with help from imported expertise and Atlantic salmon eggs. Publisher Howard White reported that seventy operations around Sechelt had “appeared like an overnight plankton bloom” only to be “quickly washed away in a tide of bankruptcy.”34 Salmon prices fell precipitously in the late 1980s, a devastating blow to many fragile start-up farms (and to fishers of wild salmon). The industry would become concentrated in the hands of a few large foreign enterprises, as the province had earlier worried it might, though these were mostly Norwegian, not American.

As it had in the late nineteenth century, much salmon harvesting on the Strait had rapidly become almost unrecognisable compared with earlier technologies. Although Ottawa and Victoria supported salmon farming, it alarmed many in the “wild fishing” community and the public at large. Concerns about salmon farming on the Strait then became more muted as most early farms closed and newer ones were established mainly on or beyond the sea’s northern boundary, farther away from the Strait’s largest settlements.

Oyster harvesting, 1850s–1980s

A number of other stories could illustrate the rapid changes and growing conflicts that characterised humans’ relations with the Strait’s marine life after colonisation—oysters, herring and whales all come to mind. But space is limited, so we will consider only the first. Oysters were mostly gathered by Indigenous people until the 1880s, when settlers began to commercially harvest the Strait’s relatively modest population of native oysters, Ostrea lurida. As an experiment, they introduced exotic oyster species, which were better suited to commercial cultivation, just before World War I. Atlantic oysters, Crassostrea virginica, thrived only in Boundary Bay, which sustained a local oyster industry through the first half of the twentieth century. Larger Japanese or Pacific oysters, Crassostrea gigas, were seeded into Ladysmith Harbour in 1912. But it was only in 1926, when twenty cases of seed oysters imported from Japan were put out in Ladysmith and Esquimalt harbours, that they began to be cultivated in any quantity. Pacific oysters were introduced to a few other places around the Strait by the 1930s, including Pender Harbour, Comox Harbour, Baynes Sound and Cortes Island.

The first significant natural spawn of Pacific oysters occurred on the Strait in 1932, in Ladysmith Harbour. In 1942, the Strait’s warmer northern reaches were heavily seeded with what most people on the Strait came to consider “wild oysters,” the seeds of Pacific oysters bred naturally in local BC waters. This seed supply would partially compensate for the lack of imported oyster seed, as trade with Japan was suspended during World War II. In fact, the large natural spawn, or “set,” in 1942 and another in 1958 had naturally spread these exotic oysters far beyond the beaches originally seeded by oyster farmers. And in the late 1940s, entrepreneurs began to sell local seed oysters, or “spat,” when they discovered that they could induce oysters to spawn regularly in the reliably warm summer waters of Pendrell Sound on East Redonda Island at the far north end of the Strait. So, while seed imports from Japan continued for almost two decades after the war, dependence on this source began to decline.

Early oyster farming had few of the inherent disadvantages of later salmon farming. As oysters are filter feeders that extract nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon and suspended solids from the water column, they can actually improve water quality. A single adult oyster can filter over 200 litres of water a day. A larger problem, from an ecological perspective, was that the Strait’s growing population of larger, highly adaptable Pacific oysters threatened the less prolific native oysters. As in other places around the world, native oysters were in decline around the Strait by 1950.

After World War II, commercial oystering expanded, on the Strait’s northern beaches in particular. The water there was mostly cleaner, the infrequent natural breeding more vigorous and Pendrell Sound’s seed oysters were nearby. Cortes Island was an important oyster producer by the 1970s, shipping to specialty markets around the world and experimenting with more intensive production on the island’s protected inlets and harbours. While oysters were farmed on seeded beaches, “wild” Pacific oysters were also being harvested from the foreshores of Cortes and smaller islands nearby, which had been colonised during the great set of 1958 in particular. This natural bounty was fortuitous in the early 1970s, as traditional oyster producers, including those in France, Portugal and Japan, were facing growing problems with pollution and disease. By the mid-1970s, Cortes Island oystermen had to compete with harvesters coming from Baynes Sound to take wild oysters from choice beach sites on nearby islands. Comox Harbour had also become an important oyster-producing area. The province issued Denman Island’s first commercial oyster lease in 1944, and thirty years later islanders were celebrating Victoria Day with oyster-shucking contests. Oyster farming had become a significant part of the local culture.

The 1942 and 1958 spawns of Pacific oysters also brought these large bivalves to many beaches in front of reserves. Some Indigenous people considered these plump oysters unhealthy compared with native species, whereas others adapted to a new source of income. Despite concerns about pollution and competition from other pickers, the Chemainus people on Vancouver Island began to harvest the Pacific oysters showing up on their beaches after 1958. The Comox people farther up-island purchased their first oyster lease in the late 1960s. A decade later, the Sliammon on the northern Sunshine Coast began to invest in oyster culture. For the most part, though, commercial oyster harvesting remained overwhelmingly based in settler communities around the sea, not Indigenous ones.

Unlike other fisheries on the Strait, Victoria rather than Ottawa oversaw oystering in the post-war years. In the mid-1960s, with the industry growing steadily, confusion emerged over the two governments’ responsibilities for managing, inspecting and researching the oyster industry. The province’s Commercial Fisheries Branch began to administer a system of permits governing oyster harvesting from “vacant Crown lands” (meaning the foreshore between low- and high-tide lines) by commercial and recreational pickers in 1966. Prior to this time, there had been no restrictions on commercial or private harvesting of oysters on public beaches. Under the new system, recreational pickers were limited to 45 kilograms of oysters in the shell, or 4.5 litres of shucked oysters per person. Commercial pickers required a monthly permit issued by the Commercial Fisheries Branch that allowed harvesting in specific areas, for a royalty payment of a dollar per ton of shellfish. Provincial fishery authorities, however, began to receive complaints from irate citizens who felt that the commercial harvesters, who were averaging 1,000 to 1,500 tons of wild oysters a year, were increasingly taking more than their fair share. Francis Dickie of Heriot Bay on Quadra Island voiced these feelings of injustice in a 1968 letter to Victoria describing activity around the oyster bed extending south from his beach:


For 30 years the people living along its waterfront adjoining and nearby have con-served carefully the needed supply…Imagine my astonishment the other day to see a crew of six men “looting” it…I was astounded to be told by one he had a LICENCE…It is incredible that the Department, before granting such licence, never sent a biologist and the local Warden to thoroughly examine this small bed, to examine its size and what could economically be taken…You personally know how for years I have written many articles stressing the need for conservation published in the Colonist, Vancouver Sun, Maclean’s, Winnipeg Free Press, Rod & Gun…And now, at my very door, this unbelievable [thing] is happening. It may be too late.35


Dickie went on to suggest that the government’s biologists ought to come see for themselves, then cancel the man’s permit and post a permanent notice stating the bed was closed except for “moderate use” by local residents.

By the late 1960s, many British Columbians had come to see such “moderate use” of exotic oysters as the settlers’ birthright. Growing numbers of people in places such as Savary Island and Gabriola Island, and their legislators, complained bitterly about commercial pickers decimating diminishing stocks of wild oysters on their favourite beaches. Relations between commercial harvesters and the oyster-gathering public deteriorated as the Strait’s rapidly growing fleet of pleasure boaters and other recreationists continued to take wild oysters from beaches. By 1973, the province was obliged to further reduce the allowable harvest by recreational users to a maximum of twenty-five oysters, or a litre of shucked oysters, per person per day.36 Indigenous people were also growing incensed by commercial pickers harvesting wild oysters from the foreshore in front of reserves. The commercial pickers believed it was their right to pick as many as they could manage because these oysters were simply “escapes” from their seeded beach farms, akin to stray cattle.37


Pacific oysters seeded on a Denman Island beach. This was the old style of oyster farming, now being eclipsed by more plastic-intensive oyster culture from rafts. Howard Macdonald Stewart photo

Starting in the early 1970s, commercial oyster farms on public beaches, mostly on Cortes Island and in Baynes Sound and Ladysmith Harbour, began to be governed by renewable ten-year provincial licences. Victoria was increasingly dissatisfied with the industry’s performance. Influenced by resource economists, government analysis of problems and prospective solutions for oystering resembled contemporary prescriptions for salmon. Almost all oyster production was still done on the beach by small, independent, labour-intensive operations, and the government alleged that all these small, marginal producers made the industry “uneconomic.” It estimated that a more mechanised industry that grew oysters in cages suspended from rafts in the sea could produce ten times as many. Raft culture, it claimed, could generate more than 22,000 kilograms of oyster meat per hectare per year, which compared very favourably with land-based meat or grain production. Farmed oysters, it suggested, might even be an answer to the global famines that many were anticipating in the 1970s.


Oyster rafts in Gorge Harbour, Cortes Island. Howard Macdonald Stewart photo

Provincial managers worried about the challenges of growing pollution from diverse land- and sea-based sources, conflict with waterfront landowners and various types of “encroachment” by other beach users. One of the greatest challenges was ensuring that oyster producers, once they had begun the transition to raft-based production, had access to the sheltered sites needed for this new system. It was estimated that at least 600 hectares of coastal waters were suitable for raft culture on the Strait in the early 1970s, but the competition for such sites was becoming intense. The forest industry was already accustomed to using beaches for storing logs, and Victoria’s oyster managers worried that the rapid growth in boating and waterfront recreation might further diminish their chances for expanding and intensifying commercial oystering. They had seen the negative effects of resorts and marinas on those small areas of Ladysmith Harbour still available for oystering. New marine parks in places such as Desolation Sound might further block expansion of oyster rafts.

The health of the oyster industry provided a rough indicator of water quality on different parts of the Strait; oysters thrived where pollution was minimal and were driven out of areas exposed to municipal and industrial waste (chapter 5). Many oyster producers considered this growing pollution a more serious problem than any need to “rationalise” their industry. Pulp mills built on the western shore of the Strait in the 1950s, for example, threatened nearby oyster harvesting. Domestic sewage pollution was also becoming widespread. Oyster farming in Boundary Bay had accounted for over half of the Strait’s oyster production into the 1950s, yet by the early 1960s it had ceased due to domestic waste flowing into the bay from the Nicomekl and Serpentine Rivers. More than 80 hectares of beach on Ladysmith Harbour were also declared contaminated by 1965. Only one of Ladysmith’s twenty-eight leases remained active, and it had to treat its oysters in a “depuration plant” to render them marketable.

Before this closure, Ladysmith had accounted for almost a quarter of the province’s oyster production. Pollution affecting the harbour originated from diverse sources and was difficult to manage. Much of the harbour was still closed to oystering in the early 1970s when the Commercial Fisheries Branch suggested that growing oysters there could be compatible with the forest industry but not with municipal waste. The shellfish ban might eventually be lifted, it said, if the town “made good on its promise” to build a secondary sewage treatment plant.38 It didn’t. At Comox, only 4 hectares of the original 80 devoted to leases in the harbour were still being used for shellfish production in the early 1970s. Initially, these businesses had to transport their oysters south to B­aynes Sound to be “decontaminated” in cleaner waters before harvest but within twenty years, the industry had shifted to Baynes Sound, where almost 100 oyster leases employed 200 people. Even these leases faced occasional summer closures due to household pollution.

From “teeming with life” to “coping with challenges”

Compared with what it had been in 1849, the Strait’s abundant marine life—the marine resource mine—was much diminished by the 1980s. Many animals not discussed here, such as whales, groundfish and herring, had declined dramatically in response to rates of harvesting that their populations could not sustain. The changes in salmon and oyster populations discussed in this chapter were more complex because they were subjected not only to intense pressure from harvesting but to the indirect effects of diverse land-based activities, including growing marine pollution. As a result, salmon and oyster populations declined in some places and recovered in others, changing dramatically in the process. Their future seemed ever more likely to involve cultivation of exotic varieties—such as Atlantic salmon and Pacific oysters—that were better suited than native ones to the techniques of aquaculture.

These changes diminished fears of loss among some, who were reassured that salmon and shellfish production could continue more or less undiminished. But the same changes stoked the fears of others, who worried about the effects of these new technologies and non-native species on beleaguered native species and on the Strait’s recreational values. Indigenous people, having resisted prolonged colonial efforts to separate them from the sea life that had sustained their ancestors, began to assume more influence over marine harvesting technologies such as salmon farming and oyster culturing, but these technologies were far removed from what had been used by their ancestors. Indigenous people had developed sophisticated methods for trapping wild fish in estuaries and rivers and cultivating shellfish on protected beaches. These technologies did not leave behind the vast volumes of sea-floor effluent associated with salmon farms or the copious plastic waste shed by modern oyster-farming techniques.

Conflicts between industrial harvesters of marine resources and other stakeholders, recreationists in particular, increased after the 1980s, while those with municipal polluters continued. In contrast, the industry’s disagreements with industrial polluters diminished as traditional fishing on the Strait declined and aquaculture itself became a significant source of pollution.


1. Callum Roberts, The Unnatural History of the Sea (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2007), 144.

2. Thomas Huxley, Inaugural Address to Fisheries Exhibition, London, 1883.

3. “Coffin on British Columbia,” British Colonist, 5 June 1873, 2.

4. “Lower Fraser,” British Colonist, 27 July 1873, 3.

5. Sproat’s letters to the Minister of the Interior, Ottawa; in Camp, Skwawmish River, Howe Sound, BC, 17 Nov 1876, RG 10 - T3967, Volume 11028, File SRR-1, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections.

6. “Ships and Shipping,” British Colonist, 2 August 1896, 3.

7. “Harvest of the Sea,” British Colonist, 16 Jan 1898, 27; Newell, Pacific Salmon Canning, 242–3.

8. “Leisure Island Laughter,” 124, MS-1176 - Frederick Marsh fonds, British Columbia Archives.

9. Memorandum ReScientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyting Salmon Fishery Regulations for the Province of BC, December 29, 1919, Memorandum from William Sloan, Commissioner of Fisheries, Province of British Columbia, to Hon. C.C. Ballantyne, Minister of Marine and Fisheries, Ottawa, GR-1118, BC Marine Resources Branch - Box 8 File 10, British Columbia Archives.

10. The Vancouver Sun reported in an article on 23 Oct 1972 entitled “Salmon pack trailing 1971” that the total 1972 pack to mid-October was 1,049,850 cases compared to 1,401,121 in 1971, of which Coho was 82,860 compared with 215,189 cases the year before and Sockeye 312,304 compared with 567,831 in 1971.

11. R. Haig-Brown, “Moran Dam,” 26, RHB papers, BN 146-5, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections.

12. R. Haig-Brown, “Canada’s Pacific Salmon,” 39, RHB papers, BN 137-3, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections; W.R. Hourston, “Roderick Haig-Brown,” Waters: The Journal of the Vancouver Aquarium, 2, 3, (1977), 2, RHB papers, BN 146-7, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections.

13. Peter Larkin, “Maybe you can’t get there from here: A foreshortened history of research in relation to management of Pacific Salmon,” Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 36 (1978), 98–106.

14. Unpublished typed manuscript of address to Pacific Fishery Biologists, 26 March 1965, 4, RHB paper, BN 58-1, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections.

15. Peter Larkin, “Maybe you can’t get there from here.”

16. Carl Walters, Undated proposal in the file entitled “Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyific issues to be addressed with the model,” GR-1002 BC ELUC Secretariat, Originals 1972–1980, Box 37, File: PAD (Program Assessment and Development) Group British Columbia Archives. This problem of initial surges in hatchery populations followed by collapses is also seen in reservoirs created behind large dams.

17. Geoff Meggs, Salmon: The Decline of the British Columbia Fishery (Vancouver and Toronto: Douglas and McIntyre, 1991), 177.

18. Peter Pearse, Public Management and Mismanagement of Natural Resources in Canada, Queen’s Quarterly 73 (1966) cited in: Nelson, Seaspace, 53.

19. G.A. Fraser, License Limitation in the BC Salmon Fishery. Technical Review Series No. PAC/T-77-13, Vancouver: Dept. of the Environment, Economic and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Industry Services Directorate, Pacific Region, 1977, cited in Newell, Tangled Webs, 5–6, 50.

20. Environment Canada, Major Development program to double BC Salmon output. New Release from Information Branch of the Fisheries and Marine Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa, 24 March, 1975, GR-1002, BC ELUC Secretariat. Originals 1972–1980. Box 37 Salmonid Enhancement Program, General, British Columbia Archives.

21. Ibid.

22. Norman Hacking, “Fisheries research program a farce?” The Province, 11 May, 1976: 16, GR-1002, BC ELUC Secretariat, Originals 1972–1980. BOX 37 Salmonid Enhancement Program, General, British Columbia Archives.

23. Larry Still, “Government ready to get tough to protect salmon fishery,” Vancouver Sun, 13 May 1978; B7, GR-1002 BC ELUC Secretariat, Originals 1972–1980, BOX 37, File #2, March 1977–August 1978, correspondence, British Columbia Archives.

24. R. Haig-Brown, undated, “Some thoughts of paradise,” 7, RHB papers, BN 138-5, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections.

25. Burns, J.E. 1969. “Some Notes on the Importance of Streamside Vegetation to Trout and Salmon in BC.” Unbound 17 page report in file by J.E. Burns, Nanaimo, BC, 25 Nov 1969, 10, GR-1118, BC Marine Resources Branch - Box 12, British Columbia Archives.

26. R. Haig-Brown, “Fish hatcheries: No substitute for stream protection,” BC Outdoors (August 1973), 1621, RHB papers, BN 146-6, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections.

27. Report on Pollution Control Objectives for the Forest Products Industry of BC as a result of a public enquiry held by the director of the Pollution Control Branch (Victoria: Queen’s Printer, September 1971), GR-1118: BC Marine ResourcesBranch - Box 12, Department of Lands, Forests and Water Resources, Water Resources Service, 1972, British Columbia Archives.

28. “Puntledge River pollution inquiry: A Submission to the Puntledge River Inquiry by BC Department of Recreation and Conservation, Fish and Game Branch, March 1962,” GR-1027, op. cit. File 3; Puntledge River Inquiry Rebuttal by Department of Fisheries, Canada, 19 March 1962, 20-page unbound document, GR-1027, Originals, 1920–1977, Box 125, British Columbia Archives.

29. R. Haig-Brown. “To the Small Boat Fleet Gathered in English Bay, Sunday, 11 June 1972.” BC Environment News 1 (1972): 8, RHB papers, BN 146-5, University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societyial Collections.

30. R. Haig-Brown interview 1969 (Part of Imbert Orchard records), T0834: 0002 of Description Number AAAB0925, British Columbia Archives.

31. Letter of 8 April 1974 from T.R. Andrews, Fisheries Biologist, BC govt. to Dr. T.R. Parsons, Institute of Oceanography, UBC, British Columbia Archives, GR-1118: BC Marine Resources Branch, Box 5, File 12 BIO-04 Aquaculture - General 1974–1976; press release of 29 March 1974 from Honourable Gary V. Lauk, Minister of Industrial Development, Trade and Commerce, Ibid., File 13, “Mariculture,” “Mariculture.”

32. Confidential memo re: fish farming in Western Canada, dated 15 March 1974 from W.E. Johnson, Senior Director, Fisheries R and D, Pacific Region, to Management Committee, Fisheries and Marine Service, Dept. of the Environment, GR-1118, BC Marine Resources Branch, Box 5, British Columbia Archives.

33. Moccasin Valley Mariculture (Meneely): Letter of 8 November 1973 from Jack Radford, Minister of Recreation and Conservation, Victoria, to Jack Davis, Minister of Dept. of Environment, Ottawa, GR-1118, Box 5, File 16, British Columbia Archives; Leslie Yates, “Fish farm working despite difficulties,” The Peninsula Times, Wednesday. 27 August 1975: 1.

34. Howard White, The Sunshine Coast (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 1996), 45.

35. Infractions and complaints (shellfish), GR-1118, BC Marine Resources Branch, Box 8, File 10, British Columbia Archives.

36. SFP 01 Oyster regulations and policy, 1966–1975, GR-1118, Box 16, File 1, British Columbia Archives; 22 Feb 1973 News Release from Office of Minister of Department of Recreation and Conservation, Bob Williams, GR-1118, op. cit.

37. Memo of 30 April 1970 from A.G. Karup, InScientific Pollution and Environmental Control Societytor to R.G. McMynn, Director, Commercial Fisheries Branch re: Nelson and Hardy Island Closure, “Rolph Bremer,” GR-1118, op. cit., File 2.

38. Memo of 19 October 1972 from Director of Commercial Fisheries Branch, R.G. McMynn, to Lloyd Brooks, Deputy Minister of Department of Recreation and Conservation re: Lot 250 Sibell Bay (Ladysmith Harbour), Box 23, File, GR 1614, British Columbia Archives.