Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for the question. The cost to the Canadian taxpayer for these court cases has been absolutely remarkable. We know that just the operation of this fishery which is operating beyond the law with the consent of the minister has cost Canadian taxpayers well over $100 million in the last few years.
The actual legal costs to the government I cannot recall at the moment. I do know that industry has spent over $1 million of its own money representing itself in an intervener status in pursuing these cases through to the Supreme Court of Canada. That is a huge amount of money.
What is most serious about it is in focusing its energies on this issue, the department is not able to manage the resource for other fisheries. I have an example at hand here right now which we are currently petitioning the minister about. That has to do with the eulachon fishery in the Fraser River. It is a small fishery. There are probably only 25 to 35 participants in it in any one year. This year there were 20 tonnes allocated to that eulachon fishery on the Fraser River.
Because the department could not get a management plan in place to operate this fishery it shut it down this year. It shut it down in spite of the fact that the participants committed that they would pay for an observer to monitor the fishery so that it would not go over the total allowable catch and so that it would not cost the
department any money. Yet the department has refused. It has shut down that small fishery this year and said it cannot fish because the government cannot get a management plan in place.
How outrageous is that? It is like saying to a farmer "you cannot plant your crops because there may be a snowstorm in the Fraser Canyon that is going to prevent the trains from getting to the coast". It is absolutely outrageous. Yet this is the kind of thing that goes on in this department time after time. Time permitting, I could give the House example after example just as outrageous as this one.