Two federal members of Parliament are criticizing each other over how to best protect fish species in Yukon.

Salmon stocks in the territory have been hitting record lows. The issue is a particular concern for the people in the First Nations traditional territories in the southwest Yukon, as the people have long relied on salmon as an important food source.

Ryan Leef, the Conservative member for Yukon, said changes being made to the Federal Fisheries Act will help salmon stocks, not hurt them.


Ryan Leef, the member of Parliament for Yukon, said the opposition is fearmongering about fish habitat protection. (CBC)

"I'm quite certain that we haven't jeopardized fisheries at all. In fact, I'd take it one step further and say we've taken extra measures to make sure our fisheries are stronger than ever and that wording's been protected and it's certainly not the story the opposition wants out there," said Leef.

Leef, who was speaking at the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations general assembly this weekend, was responding to opposition claims that the federal government is not adequately protecting fish and fish habitat.

Jean Crowder, an NDP MP from Vancouver Island and the official opposition’s Aboriginal Affairs critic, said the government has forced through many changes which could be a problem for First Nations people in the North.

"It's absolutely after the fact. By the time you get a fish floating on the water the damage has already been done and then how much time does it take to rehabilitate that damage?" asked Crowder.

"And the other thing is, they're talking about it's okay to have temporary damage of the habitat. Well what's temporary? Five years, 10 years, 20 years?"

Leef dismissed Crowder’s comments, saying it’s fear mongering on part of the opposition.