Legacy of the Fraser Salmon & Watersheds Program
"The health of the salmon suggests what our relationships are like with one another."
BC Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
As a place of unique environmental and social complexity, the Fraser Basin is an indicator of the state of salmon and its prospects for the future. The Fraser Salmon & Watersheds Program addressed the core challenge of changing the way we work together in the Fraser Basin; it has
- introduced a collaborative model for conservation that enables communities to build engagement, leadership and capacity for stewardship of their resources, an alternative to conservation through regulation and enforcement,
- engaged First Nations in meaningful ways,
- convened and fostered the collaboration of diverse communities and estranged perspectives, leading to innovative or new efforts to build stewardship,
- improved the physical and social infrastructure that supports salmon in the Fraser Basin,
- generated information and tools critical to continued stewardship and sustainable fisheries.
Wild Pacific salmon are a cornerstone of our environmental, cultural and economic strength in British Columbia.
The co-delivery of FSWP by the Pacific Salmon Foundation
and the Fraser Basin Council
ended in March 2012.
Operating an annual cycle of proposal review and funding from 2006 to 2011,
the program strategically delivered funds from the provincial Living Rivers Trust Fund and a federal initiative of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The projects funded can be browsed in the Project section and many continue in some form. The program demonstrated the enormous potential for the collaborative model, but the full value is still to be realized. Over time, as more relationships and experience are gained, a strong, efficient stewardship sector will emerge. Efforts to renew the funding base continue.
Beyond the sum of projects
Our watersheds in the Fraser Basin are valuable ecosystems, and salmon are their lifeblood. From 2006 to 2011, the Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program delivered an average of $2.26 million annually to a broad range of hundreds of projects helping to
inspire changes in human behaviour that would benefit these watersheds.
The challenge is for 3 million people in one of the most diverse and multicultural areas of North America to live harmoniously alongside the greatest salmon river in the world, where 7 species of Pacific salmon migrate to sea in numbers approaching 800 million annually. The watersheds of the Fraser Basin encompass about two thirds of BC's population and about one quarter of its land area.
As documented in the Project section, each project pursued specific goals from watershed plans to restoration of key habitat sites, from citizens reducing their water use to enumerating fish. Added to these direct results are less tangible but equally important results: the beginning of change in how the many stakeholders work together. The change is brought about by an emphasis on collaboration and by a mix of complementary projects within a region or community. Synergies among projects with overlapping people and concerns lead to foundational results such as improved relationships, capacity, leadership and engagement within a community.