Madam Speaker, I wish to speak on habitat management in British Columbia. B.C. enjoys salmon resources which are valued at hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans pointed out that his priority for the department is conservation. DFO's effort to protect the habitat has three principal goals: fish habitat conservation, fish habitat restoration and fish habitat creation. Those goals are met through several strategies which combine enforcement of the Fisheries Act, scientific research and activities with the co-operation of local communities. With respect to habitat conservation, DFO staff work closely with developers to ensure that development proposals such as mining, power generation, urban development and forestry do not have a negative impact on the fishery. Habitat biologists make sure that there will be no damage to the fishery. They advise developers to avoid harming fish when they are spawning or are at other critical stages of their development.
DFO spends approximately $6 million and has about 75 people dedicated to the conservation and protection of fish habitat in B.C. In addition, $2 million and 20 people work every day to restore fish habitat in B.C. A further $25 million and 180 people are involved in stewardship and salmon enhancement activities.
In all, $33 million are spent each year by DFO in managing the habitat and enhancing the salmon stocks in B.C. The large habitat management program in B.C. reflects a strong commitment to that region, a recognition of the importance of the salmon to the people of B.C.
Last January the minister of DFO announced that the federal government would contribute $15 million over three years to habitat restoration and salmon enhancement. Furthermore, the minister challenged the province of B.C. to match those funds. Today B.C. has not yet come up with the funds.
The goals of the program are to restore habitat, rebuild weak salmon stocks and to promote resources and watershed stewardship.
I can go on and on. We have initiated many programs. The T'Sou-Ke First Nation, the South Island Streams/Community Fisheries Development Centre and the Island Stream and Salmon Enhancement Association are making vital contributions to the conservation of the resources and this government is proud to support those efforts.
On October 15 the minister of DFO announced a further $2.7 million for habitat conservation projects in Vancouver Island communities of Port Alberni, Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Courtenay. On the Fraser River, which accounts for 60% of the B.C. total salmon catch, the minister of DFO recently announced more than $2 million for habitat restoration and salmon enhancement.
As a part of this funding, the Langley Environmental Partners Society and unemployed fishermen are working to protect habitat in the Salmon, Nicomekl, Yorkson and Bertrand river systems threatened by urbanization and farming.
The Community Fishery Development Centre in Vancouver will receive $150,000 to co-ordinate a coast-wide habitat data management system and in doing so, will train displaced fishermen in the collection of habitat data.
The development centre in Langley is being funded to clean up wood waste and other materials.
Further up the Fraser River the Salmon River Watershed Round Table, a community watershed group that includes land owners, First Nations, government agencies, industry and the citizens around Salmon Arm will use $100,000 to help rebuild the coho stocks.
The Shuswap Nation Fishery Commission will, with $160,000, collect data on juvenile coho and adult abundance in the various streams in the North Thompson system.
Community and environmental groups are also working closely with DFO to protect and to restore salmon and the habitat in several streams near Prince George. The Baker Creek Enhancement Society and a local landowner have rebuilt a side channel for young chinook and rainbow trout.
I could go on and on and recite many projects in which the government has been involved. I would like to also mention a special project that is currently under way in Campbell River, known as the Discovery Coast Wetlands Restoration Project. In this case the regional district of Campbell River is serving as the umbrella organization and the overall administration for a variety of community groups which have joined together to submit a comprehensive plan to improve the habitat for chinook, coho and steelhead in the Campbell River area.
The Partnering Organization is an almost $500,000 project which includes hake, brown, kingfisher. The Creek Society, the district of Campbell River, the Steelhead Society of B.C. and the local developers, Campbell River Elementary School, Campbell River Guides Association and stream keepers, among many others, have been working together.
My point is that many groups and the people of B.C., with the support of the government, are joined together to conserve the important natural resources, especially the salmon resources of the west coast. In all the government is supporting over $7 million worth of projects this year alone and will be supporting over $7 million for habitat restoration and salmon enhancement work next year. This is a commitment to the resources.
I submit that this is responsible action by the government to protect the important fishery resources of B.C.