(Photograph by Jessica Deeks)
Jonathon Wilkinson | Federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Over a week ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson as the new Federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard (DFO).
Now, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is challenging Wilkinson to visit the North in the wake of what some are deeming a fishing crisis.
“We have a new Minister and for the first time in a while, he comes from the West coast. Although we see this as a positive, Mr. Wilkinson supports the Trans-Mountain Pipeline, which in my eyes is a negative but that’s beside the point. Mostly, I want to get him up here to see the stress that the low fish numbers are putting on our communities.”
Cullen says getting Government officials out of the office is crucial.
“Seeing is believing. You can’t just sit at your desk in Ottawa reading reports to fully understand the impact these decisions are having on residents. What I’ve found in the past is, if I can get the Prime Minister or whatever Minister to visit the North, they can hear the truth from the people they serve. I want members of parliament to see how passionate residents are and why we fight so hard to defend our home.”
Cullen also lent his two-sense on the current fishing issue facing Northern BC.
“The sockeye and chinook numbers have increased slightly over the past couple weeks but we’re not out of the woods just yet. This is not an overabundance of fish and historically, it’s not a great year for fishing. This puts a lot of unwanted stress on communities both indigenous and not, as well as commercial and recreational folks. These numbers are causing a lot of hardship for area residents.”
When asked what the next step was, Cullen put it simply.
“The Federal Government needs a solid plan going forward. The DFO needs to do a much better job of counting and managing the fisheries in Northern BC. It would be nice if people didn’t have to fight over 1,000 fish here and there. As the fish stocks go down, the tensions rise because you have more and more people looking to get at them. Fishing is a lot of the reason why people live here or come to visit. As Canadians, we haven’t done a good enough job to sustain such a vital resource.”