Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Minister.
In the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, one group has slipped through the cracks. That's the sport fishery, especially our recreational fishing industry on the west coast. Other than general support programs, there's no specifically targeted support like the ones you created for commercial harvesters and processors.
The salmon fishing closures that DFO imposed last year had a devastating impact on the 9,000 jobs the industry supports in B.C., and of course the $1.1 billion of economic activity it sustains. That was before the COVID pandemic hit. The impact will be even worse this year due to the restrictions the guiding and outfitting industry must comply with due to the virus. Quite frankly, the industry just wants to go back to work.
Minister, it's my understanding that some time ago, the sport fishing industry placed before you a proposal to allow a minimum catch and retention chinook fishery. At most, such a proposal will intercept less than 1% of any endangered chinook run. Yet to date, the Sport Fishing Advisory Board has received no response to their proposal. Meanwhile, the guides and outfitters can't book trips since they can't, with certainty, promise their clients the opportunity to actually fish.
Minister, this industry doesn't want handouts. They want to deliver a world-class sport fishing experience to their clients. Why the delay in responding? Can the industry expect a response to their proposal this year?