March 21, 2005
Committee Set to Unveil Report on Missing
OTTAWA--The House of
Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries is set to make public on March 22nd its
report into the disappearance of Fraser River sockeye in the summer of 2004. It
will include a supplementary report, Ensuring a Future for Fraser River
Sockeye, by John Cummins, M.P. (Delta-Richmond East).
The Committee’s report is
expected to: (i) outline what the Fisheries Committee believes happened to the
missing sockeye, (ii) chronicle the mismanagement by the Department of Fisheries
that allowed the disaster to occur, and (iii) set out measures the Committee
believes necessary to ensure that the disaster is never again repeated.
The Fisheries Committee
held hearings in Vancouver in early December, 2004 and heard first hand reports
from fishermen that the Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO):
aggressive fishing on the Fraser above Mission and in the Fraser Canyon;
Failed to put
even a token force of Fishery Officers on the river to protect returning
use of highly destructive set nets in the Fraser Canyon;
demand accurate catch reporting from fishermen above Mission; and,
special aboriginal food fishery to be turned into a major black market
In January and February a
Post Season Review Committee, chaired by Bryan Williams, held hearings in
Kamloops, Richmond, Prince George, Surrey, Chilliwack and on Vancouver Island.
Fishery Officers testified of the near total collapse of the Department’s
enforcement arm, the Conservation and Protection Branch. DFO enforcement painted
a picture of massive black market operations moving illegally caught salmon into
the U.S. and Alberta being largely ignored by the Department and of food
fisheries acting as a source and a cover for the black market operations.
The Fisheries Committee has
agonized since December over how to respond to the missing salmon:
recommend more study and more talk; or,
recommend for the 2005 season tough conservation measures targeted at excessive
fishing pressure, above Mission and in the Fraser Canyon, to protect returning
That was the dilemma faced
by the members of the Fisheries Committee as they drafted their report.
Included with the Committee’s report will be a supplemental report from Cummins
that sets out an action plan to ensure the future of Fraser River sockeye.
Contact: John Cummins, M.P.
(613) 992-2957, (cell) (604) 970-0937, (604)