MP optimistic solution to fish waste problem can be found

  • Feb. 16, 2009 8:00 p.m.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen says he’s optimistic a solution can be worked out with the federal government on the fish waste problem at plants on the islands. Environment Canada recently banned dumping fish waste into the ocean, a move that stops the four plants on the islands, three in Masset and one in Queen Charlotte, from working. That means well over 300 islanders cannot work as long as the ban remains in place.Mr. Cullen met with the Ministers of the Environment and Fisheries in Ottawa late last week, and told the Observer he thinks they are now sensitive to the issue. “If logic were guiding them, then the chances would be very, very good, (of finding a solution)” Mr. Cullen said, but noted “but this is Ottawa we are dealing with. Mr. Cullen says he has set a deadline of Wednesday for some solution to be found, and says he will go “ballistic” by Friday if one is not forthcoming. He also said getting Ottawa to move on issues like this usually takes months. “We are trying to condense it that down into days,” he said. The MP is on the islands this week, and will meet with fish plant representatives while here. He is also holding a public meeting in Masset Thursday evening. In Masset, Al Frick of CB Islands Fisheries said “at this stage of the game, we are just waiting for answers.” The clock is ticking for both plants, as under normal circumstances, they’d start processing razor clams in March.The MP and the plant managers are hoping Ottawa will grant an exemption to the dumping ban, to allow them to work while a permanent solution is found. Up until this year, the plants have been grinding and disposing of fish waste in nearby waters, a practice permitted by the province. It’s been going on here on the islands for the better part of 75 years with no problems reported.