Cullen repeats calls for fishermen aid ahead of Shea visit

OTTAWA – Fisheries Minister Gail Shea’s scheduled visit to Prince Rupert on Monday is a prime opportunity for the federal government to witness first-hand the crisis facing coastal fishermen and their families, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said today.

“She should be coming with a chequebook,” Cullen told regional reporters during a teleconference this morning.

“I don’t know how she’ll be able to get through a day of meeting people who are barely hanging on, and not offer financial aid to coastal fishermen.”

Aid packages to East Coast lobster fishermen have helped ease financial hardships accrued through no fault of their own.  Pacific Coast fishermen are just asking for fairness, says Cullen.

Just two weeks ago, Conservative MP John Westson visited Prince Rupert to announce upgrades to federal buildings. Although a member of the federal Fisheries and Oceans Standing Committee, he refused to respond to fisheries questions.

Cullen says that considering Prince Rupert is heavily impacted by the slightest of DFO decisions, “It is time that Fisheries and Oceans decision-makers fully face the crisis of unresponsive and underfunded resource management.

“There are ways to balance the needs for conservation with the economic reality of hard-hit commercial fisheries.” says Cullen.

“However this will require that the department really listen. If we don’t want to lose the invaluable knowledge of coastal fishermen, we must find a way to keep them involved, and fed.”