Mr. Speaker, I present the largest petition I have seen in the House in a year.
The petitioners call for an independent judicial inquiry on the salmon crisis. Nine million sockeye salmon have disappeared during the summer's migration to the Fraser River, the lowest return in 50 years. This is a crisis similar in magnitude to the collapse of the Atlantic cod stocks, which devastated the east coast. It is dramatically affecting the way of life and the livelihood of west coast communities, first nations, recreational fishing, commercial fisheries and businesses.
It was determined that a factor in the Atlantic cod collapse was government suppression of scientific facts. The resulting closure of public fisheries and the loss of millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs in the commercial fishing industry is negatively impacting the B.C. economy with hardships and layoffs for many people directly and indirectly associated with wild salmon fishing and wilderness tourism.
It is unclear whether the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has fulfilled its obligations to effectively and responsibly manage this important resource and it is uncertain as to what meaningful action the department will undertake to ensure the long-term viability of all the salmon on the west coast.
The petitioners call upon the government to establish an independent judicial inquiry under the federal Inquiries Act that would fully explore the real facts and consult with scientists and stakeholders to determine what went wrong with this year's sockeye run.