A closeup of a large chinook (spring) salmon. Dreamstime

Vancouver Island MPs fight for coastal fishery

Gord Johns says if the federal government can find billions of dollars for a pipeline, then it should be able to spare a few bucks to help bring salmon back to the west coast.

This week in the House of Commons, the Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP has been making it clear that British Columbians are unhappy about catch-and-release restrictions imposed on chinook salmon fishing to conserve returns to the Fraser River. On Monday, Johns the NDP’s critic for fisheries and oceans, asked when promised funding for salmon habitat enhancement, protection and restoration would be rolled out.

READ ALSO: Fishing charters feel the pinch of restrictions

“Decades of Liberal and Conservative mismanagement of our fisheries has left chinook salmon populations in a desperate situation,” Johns said in Ottawa. “Instead of acting with urgency, Liberals keep re-announcing the same funding they promised for restoration enhancement and lost habitat protections. But the money’s not flowing.”

North Island-Powell River NDP MP Rachel Blaney said the Liberals’ consultation process was “shoddy at best” before announcing fishing closures in B.C.

“The late announcement left small businesses scrambling,” Blaney said Monday in the House. “Hatcheries along the coast have not seen an increase in funding for over 35 years. So they’ve got $12 million for Loblaws fridges. Where is the money for the hatcheries?”

READ ALSO: Tories cry foul over $12M to help Loblaws buy energy-efficient coolers

Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson expects decisions to be made early-June about a $142 million B.C. Salmon Restoration and Innovation fund. He said the decline of Fraser River chinook populations is a complicated process. It involves habitat restoration money, and the new Fisheries Act, which brings back lost protections.

“It focuses on ensuring that appropriate fisheries management is taking place,” Wilkinson said. “It also focuses on ensuring that we’re discussing issues relating to supplementation in hatcheries. There’s certainly pros and cons associated with that from a science perspective. We are engaging that discussion with the recreational fishing industry, and we will continue to do so.”

In an interview, Johns said the $142 million is a “drop in the bucket.”

“We need all parties fighting for our salmon. The (Liberal) government, nor the Conservatives, are treating this as the crisis it is for our fish, for our fishers, for the communities that rely on a fishery. This is critical to coastal people. This affects over 9,000 jobs. We need them (Conservatives) to join the NDP, who are the only party keeping salmon front and centre in the House of Commons. We pressured the government to announce funding for salmon again.”

Johns said government’s previous rollout of $75 million for a coastal restoration fund, over five years, was “not even close to a drop in the bucket for what’s needed.” An ocean protection plan, he added, is $63 million short of what government had scheduled to spend.

“They (commercial and sport fishers) are in a desperate situation, especially the commercial fleet. This could be the end for many of them. They have no money coming in, their EI’s run out, they have families to feed and mortgages to pay, and they’re worried about losing their boats and their houses.”



reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

One large brood

On Sunday, May 19, a lone mallard showed up with 22 ducklings… Continue reading

McHappy Day raises $7,000 in the Comox Valley

This is the fourth year funds have gone to the Comox Valley Child Development Association

Millard Creek public nature walk Sunday

Local biologist guides public through popular Courtenay trail

A cappella group Swing Set to play Comox

Quartet to perform live for first time in two years

27th Annual Courtenay and District Fish & Game Outdoor Show coming in June

June is just around the corner and so is the 27th Annual… Continue reading

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

So, do you know ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’?

Ontario man searching for fellow he travelled with in Europe 50 years ago

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

B.C. sends 267 firefighters to help battle Alberta wildfires

Out of control fires have forced evacuations in the province

LETTER: Fletcher ‘blurs reality’ on B.C. union public construction

Bridge, highway projects awarded to companies, not unions

Most Read