Salmon as a BC Emblem
In February 2013 the Province of BC introduced a Bill to designate the seven species of Pacific salmon — Chinook, Coho, Chum, Sockeye and Pink as well as Steelhead and Cutthroat Trout — as an official BC emblem.
The Fraser Basin Council, Pacific Salmon Foundation and BC Conservation Foundation have applauded the move and encouraged all members of the Legislature to support an amendment to the Provincial Symbols and Honours Act.
The three organizations proposed the designation to the Province in 2011 as a way to foster a wider understanding of the social, economic and environmental importance of wild Pacific salmon and healthy watersheds. We made the recommendation following consultations with the public.
Our report Do We Make it Official? Recognizing Pacific Salmon as a BC Emblem showed a high level of public support. A BC-wide public opinon survey conducted by Mustel Group in 2010 showed 93% of British Columbians named Pacific salmon as BC’s most iconic fish, and 85% supported a proposal to designate all seven species as a provincial emblem. If named BC's provincial fish — Pacific Salmon will join other official emblems: the Pacific Dogwood, Steller’s Jay, Kermode (Spirit) Bear, Western Red Cedar, Jade and BC Tartan.
Making salmon a symbol for BC was raised publicly in early 2009 by former Vancouver Sun columnist Miro Cernetig at the time of FBC’s State of the Fraser Basin Conference. Former Lieutenant-Governor Iona Campagnolo also voiced support. The Fraser Basin Council, Pacific Salmon Foundation and BC Conservation Foundation agreed that the idea had merit. In mid-2010 we began raising public awareness of the proposal and invited feedback. To ensure a representative sample of British Columbians, we also commissioned a BC-wide public opinion survey, conducted by the Mustel Group in October 2010.
Voices of support came from the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit and Union of BC Indian Chiefs, as well as from numerous municipalities, regional districts and individuals across BC.
Our final report was made in September 2011.
Read the report: Do We Make it Official? Recognizing Pacific Salmon as a BC Emblem.
Why Pacific Salmon?
Salmon support communities. They have long been connected to the cultural traditions, food supply and economic well-being of First Nations and many other British Columbians.
Salmon tell an inspiring story. Their epic journey from natal streams to the ocean and back is a natural drama of survival in the face of almost overwhelming odds.
Salmon are integral to ecosystem health. As salmon make their journey through BC’s waterways, their bodies spread nutrients and feed a wide variety of other species. Salmon abundance is also a sign of environmental health. Like the canary in the coal mine, salmon show us if aquatic ecosystems are in or out of balance.
Support for Salmon as a Symbol
In a Mustel Group poll conducted across British Columbia in October 2010, 93% of respondents named Pacific salmon as BC’s most iconic fish. 85% of respondents said they supported a proposal to designate Pacific salmon (all species collectively) as an official emblem of the province.
Perhaps most telling of all, one in four people surveyed said they already thought of Pacific salmon as a BC emblem, whether officially designated as such or not. The public is out ahead on this one!