The federal government is calling a judicial inquiry into the disappearance of millions of Fraser River sockeye salmon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Thursday in the House of Commons.
Trade Minister Stockwell Day will reveal further details of the inquiry Friday, a spokesman for Prime Minister's Office said.
The prime minister's announcement also follows a call for an inquiry two weeks ago by NDP western fisheries critic Peter Julian and Fin Donnelly — the NDP candidate in the Nov. 9 federal byelection in the B.C. riding of New Westminster-Coquitlam.
The announcement also follows widespread concern over the collapse of the multimillion-dollar sockeye salmon fishery on the West Coast, particularly in the Fraser River south of Vancouver.
After two of the leanest years on record, scientists had predicted a healthy return of sockeye in 2009. But only about seven per cent of the predicted 8.7 million sockeye in the summer run showed up, making it perhaps the worst return on record.
The huge shortfall forced the closure of the commercial, recreational and aboriginal sockeye fisheries on the river over the summer, and raised questions about the long-term survival of B.C.'s salmon stocks.