John Cummins, M.P.
Delta-Richmond East
News Release

April 13, 2005

Memo Reveals Armed Poachers Still Pose a Threat to Fishery Officers

OTTAWA – “Weapons in the hands of poachers are still a concern for Fisheries Officers patrolling the Fraser River,” said John Cummins, M.P. (Delta-Richmond East).

Internal Department of Fisheries documents received under the Access to Information Act reveal that weapons continue to be a threat to Fisheries Officers. In a January 11, 2005 memo the Detachment Supervisor for Conservation and Protection Field Units in Mission and Chilliwack requested “weapons profiles” on poachers his men have to deal with so that they will not be faced with any “surprises”:

“In your report you indicated that you have weapon profiles on individuals we deal with. Can you pass those along so I can move that information on to the officers to ensure we have no surprises.”

The Williams Committee in their inquiry into missing Fraser River sockeye were denied access to a 2004 report into organized illegal fishing activities on the Fraser. Once the Williams Committee gave copies of their report to Bilal Cheema, the Minister’s B.C. Assistant, Don Radford, the Regional Director for Fisheries Management, and Paul Sprout, the Regional Director General for the Pacific Region, a copy of the Melvin Report on organized illegal fishing was passed on to Bryan Williams but not to members of his Committee.

The Williams Committee Report was critical of the Department for refusing to provide them with a copy of the Melvin Report: “The Committee finds this very troubling because the information in the report would seem to go to the core of enforcement policy and practices with respect to one aspect of the Fraser sockeye fisheries. The fact that DFO wishes to withhold this evidence from the Committee seems representative of the enforcement policies which have in part contributed to the disappearance of a substantial number of Fraser sockeye.”

“By 2003,” the Williams Committee stated, “portions of the river were a no go zone for DFO staff and the fishing, never mind the catch, was no longer monitored in a meaningful way.” Now we know why.

Bryan Williams has acknowledged that the previously secret Melvin Report “confirmed the presence of weapons.”

“We now know what Fishery Officers have known all along: the poachers have weapons and are a threat to Fisheries Officers as they seek to protect migrating salmon from armed poachers,” said Cummins.

The Minister played games with the Williams Committee, denying them the critical evidence they required to do their investigation.

“The previously secret Melvin Report must be made public,” said Cummins. “The Minister must explain what measures he has taken to ensure the safety of Fishery Officers and what measures he has taken to disarm the poachers who devastated the Fraser River sockeye in 2004.”

Contact: John Cummins, M.P.
(613) 992-2957, (cell) (604) 970-0937, (604) 940-8040

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