When first elected in 2008, it didn't take me long to understand the importance of fisheries in our riding. With several well-versed local volunteers, we formed the "Sea-to-Sky Fisheries Roundtable" to bolster my service to constituents on fisheries. I wrote the Prime Minister in 2009, asked questions in the House of Commons, and, along with others, requested action on dwindling salmon stocks. His response was the courageous Cohen judicial inquiry.
In 2011, our Government took the initiative to postpone decisions on most new salmon aquaculture licenses until the Cohen Commission had reported its findings. What the Government is doing now is consistent with Justice Cohen's recommendations: to resume the review of applications for new aquaculture sites and amendments to existing sites in BC. The restrictions on the Discovery Islands area will remain in effect for the foreseeable future, consistent with the Cohen Recommendations and in recognition of its important location along the Pacific sockeye migration route.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector worldwide, now supplying over 50% of the global demand for fish and seafood. In Canada, aquaculture is worth over $2 billion annually and employs more than 14,000 Canadians. It's clear that aquaculture is a real economic driver especially for our riding.
After the low returns of 2009, more than 30 million sockeye returned to the Fraser River in 2010 the most in almost a century. In 2013, the sockeye runs were above average and 26 million pink salmon returned, more than double what was expected. Other rivers saw similar encouraging results.
The challenge is developing aquaculture that is economically sound, as well as environmentally responsible. As your MP, and a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, I will continue to work for the protection and sustainability of Canada's Wild Salmon.
John Weston, M.P.
West Vancouver Sunshine Coast Sea to Sky Country