Fin in the News "Federal Liberals reverse decision to cut Coast Guard's Sea Island dive team"
By Scott Brown, June 16, 2017
June 19th, 2017 - 12:45pm
The pair of B.C. marine programs have been spared the axe by the federal Liberal government.
Burnaby North-Seymour Liberal MP Terry Beech, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced Thursday that Ottawa had scrapped plans to eliminate the 26-member Sea Island dive team in Richmond, and reversed cuts to the salmon enhancement program.
Cutting the dive team would have saved the Coast Guard about $500,000 a year, while leaving the region less prepared to respond to emergencies where dives are required, such as rescuing people from overturned boats or submerged vehicles.
New Democrat member of Parliament Fin Donnelly, his party’s fisheries and oceans critic, said the federal Liberals backed down in response to pressure from his party as well as British Columbian voters.
The government quietly announced two weeks ago that it planned to disband the dive team and assign members to new jobs within the coast guard.
A decision was also reversed to scrap the Stream to Sea education program that provides students with hands-on learning experience about the role salmon plays in B.C.’s fisheries, ecology and First Nations culture, Donnelly said.
The cuts were part of a broader review by the Fisheries Department and one of its operating units, the Canadian Coast Guard, to sniff out programs and services that were not aligned with their “core” mandates.
Conservative party fisheries critic Todd Doherty, MP for Cariboo-Prince George, credited a grassroots movement for stopping the cuts.
“Our teachers, parents and our conservationists who wrote in and put pressure on the government that we are seeing a reversal of these terrible decisions to cut programs that keep our Canadians safe, and ensure that our oceans, rivers, lakes and streams remain healthy for the next generation,” Doherty said on Facebook.
On its Facebook page, the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, a Coquitlam-based non-profit that relies on Fisheries Department programs as it works to improve river habitat for salmon, called the reversal to cuts to the salmon enhancement program.good news.
“The pressure put on the government worked. Thanks to all who worked on this,” the post said.
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