Fisheries Act Changes Threaten Commercial Fishing Communities in BC

June 6, 2012, 3:30 PM EST

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B.C. fishermen and fish plant workers are calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to immediately withdraw habitat protection changes to the Fisheries Act, contained in the Conservatives massive omnibus budget bill.

The United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union (UFAWU-CAW) and the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation say the suite of changes will reduce current fish habitat protection and put B.C. fishery jobs in jeopardy.

The two organizations have memberships based in the commercial fishing industry on the B.C. coast, an industry that employs more than 12,000 people in various fisheries and the fish processing sector.

"The proposed changes to the Fisheries Act would allow some alteration and disruption of fish habitat, which could be at critical times of the year when salmon are spawning or young juvenile salmon are in our streams," said David Lane, Executive Director of the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation.

"Protecting only fish habitat related to a fishery is hairbrained and unworkable in practice," said Irvin Figg, President of the UFAWU-CAW.

"A Chinook salmon caught in the sports fishery off Haida Gwaii or a pink salmon caught by the commercial fishery on the North Coast could have come from any number of watersheds. Literally thousands of streams in B.C. have not been studied enough to make a definitive link to a fishery, given that fishing can take place a thousand kilometres from a salmon spawning bed," Figg said in a June 5 media release.
The UFAWU-CAW and the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation have written Prime Minister Harper asking for the current Fisheries Act fish habitat provisions to remain in place.

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