New Democrats call for judicial inquiry on salmon crisis

VANCOUVER - Federal New Democrats are calling for an immediate independent judicial inquiry into the catastrophic collapse of the Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks to ensure that west coast salmon don’t go the way of Atlantic cod.

NDP Western Fisheries Critic Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster) and Fin Donnelly, federal NDP candidate in the New Westminster-Coquitlam by-election, say the inquiry is urgently needed to ensure the long-term viability of west coast salmon.

“This is an emergency that requires immediate attention, but the Harper Conservatives are turning a blind eye,” said Donnelly, who has dedicated most of his working life to protecting wild salmon.

“The worst thing is that this isn’t an emergency that happened overnight. It’s been building for a long time and successive Liberal and Conservative governments have let it spiral out of control.”

Julian pointed out that the Conservatives promised to initiate an inquiry while in opposition, and made it a key plank in their 2006 platform.

“They broke their promise to make protecting wild salmon a top priority, and now we’re in serious trouble,” he said. “We need action from this government, not broken promises.”

The NDP call for an inquiry has broad support from scientists and conservation groups. Renowned fish biologist Alexandra Morton said “we would still have the great North Atlantic cod stocks if a judicial inquiry had been called before they crossed the line of no return. The Fraser sockeye collapse pattern is so remarkably specific it could be deciphered if politics were swept aside. It is up to us. If we want the Fraser sockeye this inquiry is essential.”