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Local salmon advocate files federal petition

Petition contains 19 questions for the federal auditor general to look into



A Whistler advocate of salmon preservation and habitat protection feels the federal government isn't doing enough following the release of the Cohen Commission into the Decline of Fraser Sockeye — so Dave Brown filed a petition with the auditor general of Canada expressing his concerns.

Brown signed the petition with support from the Sea to Sky Fisheries Roundtable, Randall Lewis of the Squamish Nation, Stan Proboszcz of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society and former federal fisheries minister John Fraser. The petition was sent to the auditor general on Friday, Feb. 21.

In it, Brown posed 19 questions probing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on actions it took following the release of the report. The questions also dig into the roles the fisheries minister, and senior government staff, played in the creation of legislative changes to fish habitat protections.

In a statement issued by the DFO, the federal department said Justice Cohen provided valuable information that informs day-to-day salmon protection work.

"We are responding to his recommendations by taking concrete actions that make a real difference," said the statement.

MP John Weston (West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country) provided a brief statement from Ottawa saying the fisheries roundtable has been very proactive in working with him over the last four and a half years.

"As the MP for the area I will continue to carry on my practice of making sure the government is aware of the concerns of the people of the area," said Weston.

It has been 15 months since the Cohen report was released. Brown said in that time two sockeye returns have taken place and both were small runs.

"We just can't wait idly by and watch one of the greatest runs of sockeye in the world disappear," he said.

"Not only has the federal government not taken meaningful action on the Cohen recommendations, they've backtracked on wild salmon protections."

Brown said Weston has done a good job of supporting the efforts of the fisheries roundtable by ensuring the group's concerns are heard. Two fisheries ministers have visited the corridor in Weston's time as MP and a number of habitat protection projects have been funded in the region.

"He's done his job as the MP, but for whatever reason the lack of action speaks volumes on the government's approach," said Brown.

"What kind of federal government announces the development of a $26 million dollar blueprint to protect salmon, then acts as if it doesn't exist?"