Sunday, September 20, 2009

Incompetence on Salmon!

For Immediate Release
Sept. 19, 2009


VICTORIA – Environment Minister Barry Penner’s attempt to criticize the federal government’s Fraser River sockeye forecasts is a brazen attempt to divert attention from his own government’s shoddy record on fisheries management, say the New Democrats.

“Minister Penner is trying to shift the blame away from the B.C. Liberals, but the truth is that the B.C. Liberals’ repeated regulatory failures have contributed to the crisis facing many B.C. salmon stocks,” said New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming.

“Pointing fingers at Ottawa doesn’t diminish their own culpability, and won’t make coastal communities forget Gordon Campbell’s cynical pledge to implement the best fisheries management in the world, bar none.”

“Minister Penner should be ashamed for criticizing Ottawa while he’s slashing his own ministry’s fish and wildlife management budget.”

Penner criticized the federal government’s forecasts in the wake of news that returns of Fraser River sockeye are roughly 10 per cent of expected.

“One of Premier Campbell’s great golden goals in 2005 was the best fisheries management on the planet, but they have completely given up on fish,” said Lana Popham, the opposition critic for agriculture.

“British Columbia salmon are at risk because the B.C. Liberals have no strategy. Like so many other issues, it seems their only strategy on this is political – and it’s essentially to blame someone else. That doesn’t help our wild salmon stocks.”

In 2007, the special legislative committee on sustainable aquaculture – chaired by Skeena MLA Robin Austin – made 55 recommendations to improve aquaculture while protecting wild stocks.

The failure of the B.C. government to protect wild salmon stocks was one of the issues cited in a lawsuit that led to fisheries management being turned over to the federal government.

"The minister has given up responsibility of wild salmon when he knows that Ottawa is about to inherit the B.C. Liberal fish farm debacle,” said intergovernmental relations critic Guy Gentner.

“When times get tough, leaders delve into the situation. Minister Penner is simply walking away."