Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge has pledged to progressively phase out its salmon fishing program in an effort to reduce its ecological impact, and raise awareness about the diminishing wild salmon populations in Clayoquot Sound.
Saving the Salmon
Native Chinook Salmon stocks have decreased at an alarming rate in recent years, which causes devastating collateral damage for the entire ecosystem. Most alarmingly, the endangered southern resident Orcas which feed solely on the fish. A combination of climate change, logging, overfishing, marine pollution, aquaculture and disease are some of the factors contributing to the decline.
“It’s a move we’ve considered for the last few years,” says General Manager Bradley Goian. “Obviously this was not an easy decision, as salmon fishing is one of the main attractions to this region and has been part of our adventure programming since the lodge opened in 2000. But the evidence is clear right in our own backyard on the Bedwell River that chinook are going extinct. We feel strongly that we don’t want to keep contributing to the problem.”
The remote luxury wilderness lodge is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, 40 minutes boat ride from Tofino, and pride themselves on their immersive sustainability practices. An environmental legacy program is funded by the lodge directly as well as 3% environmental tax for guests. These days almost all funds raised go towards Salmon conservation and rehabilitation.
This is a complex issue for many reasons, but I was so happy to hear the news of this decision. I’m supportive of the direction Clayoquot is taking and applaud them for making conservation the priority.Ahousaht First Nations Chief, Lewis George
Since 2001, the lodge has worked with Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the local First Nation community of Ahousaht, to mitigate and repair human-caused environmental damage and habitat depletion in Bedwell Sound. Substantial work has been undertaken to create new salmon spawning channels and restore native stocks to river systems, with the help of organizations including the Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society and Clayoquot Biosphere Trust.
Ahousaht First Nations Chief Lewis George believes this is an important and positive step. “This is a complex issue for many reasons, but I was so happy to hear the news of this decision from Bradley and Antonella. I’m supportive of the direction Clayoquot is taking and applaud them for making conservation the priority. This is a powerful statement in sustainability.”
Executive Chef Michael Pataran also supports the decision and has removed salmon entirely from his menus in the Cookhouse Restaurant. “A big theme for us this year as a Relais & Châteaux property is to move away from utilizing over-harvested and commonly consumed fish like salmon, tuna and shrimp. Instead, we want to introduce our guests to lesser known fish and continue to emphasize the importance of eating sustainable seafood.” The lodge currently partners with Ocean Wise® to ensure that all seafood menu items are ethically harvested.
For the 2020 season and beyond, salmon fishing excursions will simply not be offered. Fly fishing options, heli-fishing adventures, and certain saltwater experiences utilizing sustainable fishing practices will still be available.
“We hope that this decision will be a catalyst for continued dialogue and education about the severity of this issue. Salmon are a keystone species, providing food for wildlife and nutrients to our vast old-growth rainforests. They are crucial to the biodiversity and overall health of Clayoquot Sound. We know that our actions might not make a huge difference on a global scale, but can you imagine if we all made a conscious effort as individuals and businesses to conserve and affect small change?”, says Antonella Puglisi, Lodge Manager.