Cullen: Fisheries Committee Must Hold Hearings in BC

OTTAWA – New Democrats Peter Julian and Nathan Cullen are calling for the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to hold Pacific Salmon season post-mortem hearings in B.C.

In an effort to bring much needed Federal attention to the issues of the Pacific salmon crisis; Cullen, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley is working with Julian, West Coast Fisheries Critic, to pressure the Federal committee into a hearing tour along coastal BC communities.

“This crisis has been growing in coastal BC and, despite our greatest efforts, Minister Shea has not heeded our calls for action.” says Cullen. “The Standing Committee must look into what has happened to the 2009 sockeye runs and how the Federal government can attend to those Canadians impacted by this disastrous season.”

North Coast MLA Gary Coons agrees with his federal colleagues, “Since the BC Provincial government seems to have washed its hands of the wild salmon issue, I urge the government of Canada to sit up and take notice.”

Neither of BC’s two largest sockeye producers, the Fraser and Skeena Rivers, was able to open for a 2009 sockeye salmon season; meanwhile the Minister of Fisheries was in Norway promoting Canada as a great place to raise farmed fish.

Cullen says that barring an election call, this issue must be of the highest priority for the Standing Committee when the House of Commons re-convenes later this month. Cullen and Julian point out that the Committee has not even mentioned Pacific Salmon since February and they are urging the committee to immediately begin scheduling hearings and booking witnesses.

“Groups like the Sustainable Marine Fisheries and Communities Alliance have made every effort to be heard by the Minister,” appeals Cullen, “now they are waiting to be heard by the Fisheries committee.”

“We have seen the disappearance of Atlantic Cod through poor fisheries policies and neglect, we do not want to witness the same fate for Pacific Salmon.” says Julian, “Fisheries policies for British Columbia cannot be set in Ottawa meeting rooms. Fisheries policies for BC must be made in BC.”