An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
I HAD A RIDE in a helicopter once, or maybe twice.
A few thousand or million salmon will get the same opportunity now that officials have decided to capture them below the Big Bar rock slide near Lillooet and fly them upstream to their spawning grounds.
The slide has created a barrier that the fish are having trouble getting through.
Time is of the essence as the main salmon migration will get started in a couple of weeks.
I don’t know how much it will cost but I do know helicopter rides don’t come cheap. The salmon cannon was my personal favourite option, and is said to be cheaper than using helicopters.
The salmon cannon has been in use for several years in Washington state to shoot fish past hydro-electric dams. It’s actually a long vacuum tube and is, apparently, easy on the fish.
For whatever reason, federal and provincial officials have decided against the cannon and given the nod to the airlift.
Which is already giving the shivers to those who are instantly convinced it’s just another waste of hard-earned tax dollars. Surely, we can find better things to spend money on, they say. Low-income housing, potholes, drug addictions and the like. Maybe even save some whales and elephants.
Let Mother Nature have her way, they say — stop interfering.
But Mother Nature doesn’t always get it right. Sometimes, we have to fight back, and not just because we like fish.
This is an economic and environmental decision. Disruption of a major salmon run can impact commercial, recreational and First Nations fish harvests as well as the health of killer whales, perhaps for years.
This is one time fighting Mother Nature is worth it.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.