Only a handful of residents attended a public meeting held by the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council in Fort St. John on Wednesday night.
The Council has been travelling across B.C. attempting to start a dialogue with residents regarding salmon and trout fisheries management.
Approximately six residents came out to discuss what they felt were some of their biggest concerns affecting fish populations in the Fort St. John area. Residents discussed an apparent decline in certain fish populations, a decrease in the number of conservation officers in the area and their concerns regarding how fish might be affected if the proposed Site C dam is built.
Neil Thompson said he has been a long-time resident in the area and that he has seen a noticeable decline in the grayling fish population over the past few years in Williston Lake.
One of the recurring themes at the meeting surrounded the proposed Site C dam. Residents brought up the fact that, if the dam is built, they would like to see provisions made so that fish will be able to easily move past the dam, without being affected by its turbines.
Furthermore, Thompson brought up his concerns about how if the Site C dam is built, part of the project would include flooding the City’s dump. He said he’s worried toxic materials could leach into the water system, affecting fish and wildlife populations, as well as city drinking water.
Jake Hughson was another resident at the meeting who brought up a concern regarding how residents were being warned about the high current mercury levels in fish populations in the area.
Certain residents also expressed their concerns about the volume of water being used by the oil and gas industry for fracking and how that volume can affect water levels in the various rivers in the area, affecting fish populations and their habitats.
The second part of the public meeting involved residents drawing out a map of the Fort St. John area and surrounding water systems. Residents were asked to label any areas they were concerned about.
All information brought up at the province-wide public meetings will be compiled and presented to both the federal fisheries minister as well as the provincial minister.