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In this 2006 file photo, B.C. sockeye salmon gather in the shallows of the Adams River near Chase, B.C. northeast of Vancouver. (ANDY CLARK)
In this 2006 file photo, B.C. sockeye salmon gather in the shallows of the Adams River near Chase, B.C. northeast of Vancouver. (ANDY CLARK)

PM announces probe into B.C. salmon stocks Add to ...

Alarmed at declining stocks of sockeye salmon off Canada's Pacific coasts, The Conservative government has launched a judicial inquiry in an effort to find out why.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the inquiry in the House of Commons this afternoon.

"As the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has said on numerous occasions, we are very concerned about the low and falling returns of sockeye salmon in British Columbia," he said.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported in August that only 1.37 million sockeye returned to the Fraser River this year, a shadow of 10.6 million that the department had predicted.

The British Columbia government had asked for a review that could question the department's management practices.

"The wide disparity between the forecasted and actual returns of Fraser River sockeye is a serious issue for British Columbians," B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner said in a letter to federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea in September.

The B.C. government sought a "comprehensive public review of the 2009 sockeye returns, the adequacy of scientific data and the capacity of forecasting techniques.'"

In announcing the judicial inquiry, Mr. Harper was complying with that request.

The federal government has been repeatedly criticized for its management of offshore resources. Federal mismanagement contributed to the collapse of Atlantic Canada's cod fishery in the 1990s, which has yet to recover.

Mr. Harper said details of the probe will be announced Friday by Trade Minister Stockwell Day, who is lead minister for the region.

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