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Fisheries minister’s comments on Skeena sockeye ‘asinine’: BC NDP MLA

Federal fisheries minister Gail Shea’s comments about Skeena River sockeye salmon returns show why regional management is needed, said the New Democratic Party MLA for Stikine, Doug Donaldson.

“Maybe the salmon will return a year later,” Shea said in an interview on CBC radio’s All Points West during her visit to Prince Rupert yesterday. “Nobody knows what’s happening in the marine environment.”

To suggest salmon might be a year late returning shows a lack of knowledge, said Donaldson. “That’s absolutely asinine,” he said. “It flies in the face of how the migration cycle works with sockeye.”

The fish have always returned on a four-year-cycle and are not likely to suddenly change, he said. “Evolution just doesn’t quite work that way.”

In July the Department of Fisheries and Oceans predicted Skeena sockeye returns would be average, but by December local news reports said the returns had collapsed.

The federal government has launched an inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye run and Shea said in the CBC interview that maybe some of the recommendations will also apply to the Skeena.

Donaldson said it’s time to act on a January, 2009, report from the Pacific Salmon Forum, chaired by former fisheries minister John Fraser. It recommended considering a watershed governance model that shares decision making between provincial, federal and first nation governments.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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