Coast Guard reverses course, decides not to scrap Richmond's emergency dive team

The federal government has announced it's reversing its decision to cut two BC marine programs.

Two programs reinstated after pressure from grassroots groups throughout the province

The federal government said it's reversing a decision to scrap two B.C. marine programs, less than a month after the cuts were announced.

"The Coast Guard will remain at the Sea Island base and all elements of the salmon enhancement program will continue," said Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and MP for Burnaby North-Seymour.

At the end of May, Ottawa announced it would scrap the Richmond-based dive team.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said at the time the team was "not part of the core search and rescue mandate."

Ottawa also announced it would cut funding to a popular program that teaches school children about salmon and their life cycle.

"I'm grateful to those British Columbians who raised their voices against these short-sighted cuts," said MP Fin Donnelly, the NDP Critic for Fisheries and Oceans.

"With this tremendous outpouring of support, we were able to get the government to back down."

The Canadian Coast Guard emergency dive team responds to sunken vessels, vehicles, and aircraft. (CBC)

Big win for grassroots groups

In a Facebook postCariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty, Official Opposition Critic for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, called it a big win for the grassroots groups that pressured the government to keep the programs.

"Thank you to all of you that wrote into your MP and wrote into us — that helped press the message that these closures were wrong."

The Sea Island emergency crew is the only one of its kind in Canada. The team is responsible for rescues and recoveries of people trapped in submerged boats, vehicles and aircraft.

The 15-member dive team began as a pilot project in 1995 and was dismantled once before, in February 2001, due to concerns of its cost-effectiveness.

The DFO's Stream to Sea program educates K-12 students from over 800 schools in B.C. about the value of salmon resources, and the protection of their local watershed.