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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: SD69 working on how to organize schools for planned fall re-opening

Qualicum School District required to have plan to ministry by Aug. 26

RDN Transit requiring masks for most come end of month

Masks, hand sanitizer to be handed out in Regional District of Nanaimo mask policy campaign

Major injuries averted after three-vehicle crash in Nanoose Bay

Poor road conditions believed a factor in early-morning mishap

Throwback: Parksville Makerspace shows off old Commodore 64 computer

Open house takes place Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

COVID-19: Modified beach volleyball a hit in Parksville

Organizer happy to get popular summer game going

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Canucks blank Wild 3-0, take series lead in penalty-filled NHL qualifying clash

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 shots to lead Vancouver past Minnesota

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Most Read