MP John Weston hosts federal fisheries minister 

Maritime MP visits salmon enhancement projects

click to enlarge SUSAN HOLLIS

Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield was in the Sea to Sky Corridor to check out fisheries projects this week.

MP John Weston and fisheries activist Dave Brown of Whistler along with the West Vancouver Streamkeepers invited the MP from Fredericton to come to the area to highlight some projects, and hopefully get some funding.

According to Weston, Ashfield visited the North Vancouver Outdoor School (NVOS) and the Tenderfoot Fish Hatchery in the Paradise Valley north of Squamish on Wednesday (Jan. 11).

The NVOS offers salmon education programs to students who attend the school. The school is also home to salmon enhancement projects on the edge of the Cheakamus River. The Tenderfoot Fish Hatchery, one of 18 major hatchery facilities and spawning channels in B.C. run by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, is located just south of the outdoor school and Ashfield was scheduled to drop in to visit that facility as well. The hatchery was constructed to help increase the freshwater survival of Pink, Coho, Chinook, and Chum Salmon.

Dave Brown of the Squamish Fisheries Roundtable Group said Ashfield had an opportunity to see first hand the site of a proposal that fisheries advocates would like the federal government to help fund at the NVOS.

A proposal document prepared by the roundtable group outlines habitat maintenance work and new works at NVOS that will support and improve what has been taking place at the school for 30 years. According to the report prepared by roundtable members: "Long term maintenance activities do not generally fit into existing funding parameters, making it more difficult to get this type of work done. These projects address some of those long term maintenance needs..."

According to the funding roundtable group, some of the "previous great and well intentioned works" at NVOS has since been orphaned because there just hasn't been any money for long-term maintenance.

Brown hopes that Ashfield's visit will inspire him to find some money to improve salmon habitat and educate more people about the salmon that spawn in the Cheakamus River.

"I'm striving to shrink the distance between Ottawa and the riding," MP Weston said of Ashfield's visit. "Meetings such as these bring our riding's world-class expertise and initiatives to the attention of cabinet ministers. This also affords the citizens in our riding the opportunity to bring their concerns, needs and aspirations to the federal government."

Weston said Ashfield's visit to his West Vancouver, Sunshine Coast and Sea to Sky Country riding included a visit to West Vancouver Secondary School to meet with Streamkeepers on the North Shore.

The visit coincided with the annual Squamish Eagle Count, which was on the low side this year as a result of declining fish stocks and a disappointing chum run on local rivers. For more on the eagle count, see page 34.

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