July 20th, 2021
MP GORD JOHNS CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE RELIEF FOR COMMERCIAL SALMON FISHERS
Courtenay — Gord Johns, Member of Parliament (Courtenay-Alberni) is calling on the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to provide immediate relief to salmon harvesters following the sudden announcement by her department to close sixty percent of commercial salmon fisheries on the west coast of British Columbia.
In a letter to the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, MP Johns said, “this decision has blindsided fish harvesters, many of whom have already heavily invested in fishing equipment and supplies for the season and now face financial hardship.” He added that “this could have been avoided if meaningful consultation and collaborative management had been employed.”
The decision, announced by Minister Jordan's Department of Fisheries and Oceans on June 29th, was made without consulting commercial fishers and others working in the industry or First Nations whose Indigenous right to catch and sell fish was recently re-affirmed by the federal Court of Appeals.
“We know of at least four gillnetters stranded in Prince Rupert at this time and are aware indirectly of others in other locations, who are suddenly without the means to run their boats home. These harvesters were relying upon fishing income from the salmon openings they were led by DFO to expect, and instead have been cut off from their livelihoods without warning and without a way to recover their expenses.” said United Fishermen & Allied Workers’ Union business agent Emily Orr.
The New Democratic Party supports the need for a license retirement program as a step forward to address the Pacific wild salmon emergency, it has insisted this must only be part of a multi-pronged approach required to ensure the conservation of salmon stocks whilst ensuring harvesters’ livelihoods are protected.
“The hard truth is that DFO’s mismanagement has significantly contributed to the wild salmon emergency that we face today,” MP Johns told the Minister in his letter. He said, “while the DFO continues to do nothing about corporate monopolization and foreign ownership of the west coast fishing industry, it announces closures like this which will devastate independent fish harvesters who are already struggling just to stay above water."
His letter concluded with "the long-term question DFO must ask itself is: what is the collective vision as coastal communities, fishers and the governments for the future of commercial salmon fisheries?”