Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has noted, predation by sea lampreys is considered to be one of the major causes of the collapse of the lake trout and whitefish fisheries in the 1940s and 1950s.
In response to this concern the Great Lakes fishery commission was created between the United States and Canada to find ways to manage sea lampreys and to develop a research program to sustain fish stocks in the Great Lakes.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which represents Canada as a party to the Great Lakes Fishery Convention, is actively involved in the planning and implementation of the lamprey control program.
This program, according to statistics provided by the commission, has reduced lamprey populations by approximately 90 per cent from historic levels. Given the economic importance of the Great Lakes fishery to our fishing community, there is still work to be done. That is why Canada recently increased its funding to the commission by 33 per cent to a total of $5.145 million. We have secured assurances from the U.S. government that it will follow Canada's lead and increase its funding to the commission as well.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is proud of the work that Canada and the U.S. have done to support lamprey control on the Great Lakes. We have managed to build this fishery up to a $2 billion to $4 billion industry annually.
We will continue to support this commission in the future. It is our belief that it is now time for those who directly benefit from the Great Lakes fishery commission's efforts to join us and begin contributing to the cause of the lamprey control program.
We all have a responsibility in maintaining a healthy and prosperous fishery for the future.