The Pacific salmon has been designated the official provincial fish emblem to recognize their high ecological, cultural and economic significance to British Columbians.
"With the epic migration of Pacific salmon from B.C.'s rivers and streams to the ocean and back, there is no symbol more iconic of British Columbia," said Environment Minister Terry Lake. "Not only are Pacific salmon integral to the culture, well-being and livelihood of B.C.'s First Nations, they are often seen as indicators of overall ecosystem and wildlife health, and important to environmental sustainability. Pacific salmon are also a significant economic driver in B.C. due to commercial and recreational fisheries."
The designation of Pacific salmon is limited to seven salmonid species of the genus Oncorhynchus native to B.C. waters - all of which are included under a single overarching symbol. Included in this group are sockeye, chinook, coho, pink and chum salmon, as well as steelhead and cutthroat trout. Using the broader definition of Pacific salmon recognizes not one but seven of these important fish.
"Naming the Pacific salmon as a provincial emblem is much more than a symbolic act," said Dr. Brian Riddell, president and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation. "It is a reminder to us all of the tremendous values associated with Pacific salmon in B.C. and that we all have responsibility for conserving and restoring this incredibly important natural resource. As the head of a foundation that is singularly focused on Pacific salmon restoration, I commend the provincial government for its leadership and for the $22 million that it has invested in Pacific salmon conservation since 2006."
The Provincial Symbols and Honours Act lists B.C.'s floral, mineral, bird, tree, mammal and fish emblems, as well as the provincial tartan, which have been deemed by government as representative symbols for the province:
- 1956 - Pacific dogwood adopted as B.C.'s official floral emblem.
- 1968 - Jade adopted as B.C.'s official mineral emblem.
- 1974 - Five-colour official provincial tartan adopted.
- 1987 - Steller's jay adopted as B.C.'s official bird.
- 1988 - Western red cedar adopted as B.C.'s official tree.
- 2006 - Spirit bear adopted as B.C.'s official mammal.
- 2013 - Pacific salmon adopted as B.C.'s official fish emblem.