Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and privilege to table a petition on behalf of constituents from Courtenay, Denman, Hornby, Lasqueti Island and Cumberland. They want to draw the attention of the Government of Canada to the fact that Pacific herring in the Salish Sea has dropped one-third between 2016 and 2019. That drop will be more than 50% by 2020. They also are raising concern that this fishery is now deemed a high-risk fishery and the department recommends it should be curtailed from 20% to 10%. The unexpected drop in the herring population has led to overfishing of existing stock. Pacific herring is a primary food source for salmon, killer whales and humpback whales, cod, halibut, seabirds and other independent species on the Pacific coast.
As well, they want point out to the House that first nations have constitutionally protected rights to herring, which is an important food source and an integral part of first nations culture. The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to suspend the 2020 Salish Sea herring fishing until a whole-of-ecosystem plan is developed, to fairly compensate local fishers for economic losses and to ensure that decisions are made with the full participation of first nations and local communities. They cite this as an urgent matter.