Federal New Democrat Leader Jack Layton says the state of wild salmon populations and the fish-farming industry in B.C. are both of “grave concern”.
Layton also emphasized the value of the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.
“This inquiry is going to be very, very important,” he said. “I think people in British Columbia are extremely concerned about what’s been going on with the salmon fishery.”
Layton made the comments during an hour-long interview today (October 12) with editorial staff at the Straight offices.
He said the return of tens of millions of sockeye salmon this year “has a lot of people scratching their heads”.
He added: “But I think the long-term decline that we’ve seen, the growth of fish farming that we’ve seen, is something that’s of very, very grave concern. So this is a high priority for us.”
Asked what needs to be done around fisheries management, Layton responded:
“The first thing that has to be done is that our fisheries department has to start to connect more with what’s really happening on the ground. I mean, if we had a department of oceans and fisheries that were operating management of resources in a sustainable fashion, perhaps we wouldn’t have seen the collapse of the cod stocks, perhaps we wouldn’t be seeing what’s going on here.
“A policy-making process that engages the community is fundamental,” he said.
Layton continued: “Secondly, on the whole question of the fish farming, we know that the issue of sea lice is a critical question and has got to be addressed with some federal policies.”
“As far as we’re concerned, this is a very important area for action by the federal government, working, of course, with the province and with local communities and with First Nations, too, up and down the coast,” he added.