Scientist Alexandra Morton says the surprising historic return of 34 million sockeye salmon to the Fraser this year - the largest after two decades of significant decline - shows that the ocean and river still have the potential to sustain salmon.
She views it as a sign of hope in her fight to preserve wild salmon in British Columbia, which is taking her on a tour of northern B.C.
She estimates the 2010 Fraser River sockeye will provide $500 million to the provincial economy and 45 million kilograms of nutrients to the Fraser basin that covers 60 per cent of B.C.
"Imagine a future where we don't need parks for the purpose of locking ourselves out of the natural world," Morton said Wednesday during a stop over in Prince George.
"We could use knowledge to prosper from our powerful ecological resources, but also keep them intact so that we are not destroying our capital and robbing future generations," said Morton, a whale researcher who turned her attention to the impacts of salmon farms on wild salmon in the late '80s.
She said she believes that people can no longer count on the federal government's Department of Fisheries and Oceans to protect salmon, instead people will have to push governments to take stronger action to save wild salmon.
She wants to see salmon farms removed from British Columbia.
Calling her campaign, salmon are sacred, Morton has already travelled 500 kilometres along Vancouver Island by foot. She will visit the Stellat'en First Nation west of Prince George today, and is also planning visits to other communities and First Nations at Stuart Lake, Takla Landing, Quesnel, Williams Lake and Kamloops.
Morton will complete her tour with a five-day paddle down the Fraser River from Vancouver.
Morton has standing at the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.
The inquiry held an informal hearing in Prince George recently where a contingent of First Nation speakers implored B.C. Justice Bruce Cohen to use traditional First Nations knowledge to help rebuild sockeye salmon stocks on the Fraser River.
The inquiry will hold more formal evidentiary hearings starting this month.
More than 20 groups received standing at the hearings which came with funding of $3.4 million.