NEWS ~ NEW DEMOCRATS DEMAND ACTION FROM FISHERIES MINISTER

BC wild salmon stocks being left high and dry

OTTAWA – Indications that the BC government will not be regulating salmon farms mean that the industry will be left to regulate itself. New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans Critic Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore) and Western Fisheries Critic Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster) are calling on the Harper Conservative government to take immediate action to protect the BC salmon stocks.

“The Conservative government has known about this BC Supreme Court decision now for six months,” said Stoffer. “It is imperative that Minister Shea act immediately. She needs to convene a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the future regulatory and management systems for the industry.”

In February 2009, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that the BC government does not have right to regulate salmon farms and this week it has come to light that the government will not likely be appealing the decision. In the absence of provincial regulation, New Democrats are calling on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to take her responsibility to protect fish stocks seriously. They are asking that a summit of BC fisheries coastal communities, stakeholders and First Nations be convened immediately to discuss the future management of the BC aquaculture industry and declining wild salmon stocks.

“By delaying action, the Conservatives are creating a regulatory black-hole and are essentially leaving the aquaculture industry to self-regulate,” said Stoffer. “This is unacceptable. The minister has ignored this crisis long enough and should no longer evade responsibility.”

“Our fish and our oceans must come first and the government is obligated to put an effective, credible action plan in place,” concluded Julian. “We need a strong regulatory framework and an effective strategy for aquaculture in BC.”