BCWF Meeting Yesterday with Fishing Minister

Discussion in 'Conservation, Fishery Politics and Management.' started by MyEscape, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. MyEscape

    MyEscape Active Member

    On January 15th 2009, representatives of the B.C. Wildlife Federation Tidal Waters Fisheries Committee, (BCWFTWFC) met with the new Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Gail Shea. Shea was on her first trip to British Columbia. BCWF Executive Director, Patti MacAhonic, and BCWFTWFC members Paul Rickard and Bill Otway, met with the minister and gave her briefings on four key issues of concern to our members.

    The first and foremost job your representatives had was to make the ministeraware of who and what the B.C. Wildlife Federation is. Moreover, as the minister is from the East Coast we also had to make her aware of the importance and value of the British Columbia recreational fisheries. This> was accomplished in our opening brief.

    We then dealt with the situation regarding Halibut fisheries on this coast> and the impact the current policies are having on our recreational fishery. We made a strong case for the inequities of the current policy and that fact that as currently construed they are in violation of Canadian Law. We asked the minister for a more equitable allocation policy and pointed out the> overall benefits to Canadians from such an allocation change. While there were no commitments from the minister, and frankly none were expected at this first meeting, the minister made many notes and asked some very cogent questions. It is the feeling of your representatives that the minister now has a far better understanding of this issue and the impacts the current policy is having on our fishery. It is our intention to follow up on these in the very near future. We then dealt with the importance of the Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP) and the need for additional funding if we are to be able to maintain any fisheries in the future. Simply put, without SEP the recreational fishery in Southern British Columbia would collapse. This would mean an economic loss for the B.C. economy of some $300 million. In addition we pointed out that with the advent of climate change and the impacts this will have on our> habitat, without SEP and additional hatchery production there will be no> fisheries in the future. Again the minister made many notes and asked some very probing questions> regarding this program and its' needs and benefits. We then moved to the disaster that is taking place on the Lower Fraser River and the fact that salmon and sturgeon habitat is being destroyed under the guise of "flood control". We pointed out to her the fact that hydraulic studies made it clear that there were virtually no flood benefits from this grave removal but that the habitat impacts were very large. We noted that the authorization for this work that comes from her department expires at the end of this March and we asked that she not renew it. Again, we were questioned on this issue and the minister made notes on our brief and responded well to our answers to her questions. We made it clear that habitat destruction is a major issue for our Federation and we will not stand by and watch it being destroyed to create a profit for a few> government friends. No such projects should proceed without full public> input and a process that gets all the facts out into the public view. Our final subject had to do with the inability of her regulations section to deal with the needs of fisheries management on this coast. We pointed out that the SFAB had requested a regulation to provide for the use of circle> hooks in some fisheries, after consultation, over 8 years ago and nothing> has happened. We have had the Lower Fraser River fishery closed for> something like 15 years now and if we had the ability to require circle hooks we would reduce the release mortality to a point where the fishery could open again. Her staff indicated to the minister that if they had the new Fisheries Act they could do this right away. We pointed out to the minister that a new act was not necessary for this regulation to be completed, just some commitment on the part of her staff. As for a new Fisheries Act, while the BCWF was strongly supportive of> improving our fisheries management and the Fisheries Act, we would not support the previous proposals. We pointed out that the ministers' own party had voted against this proposed act when the Liberals had put it forward and so how could they propose it now. We said there would be no support until and unless there was real consultation with the fishing community and recognition of their input. The Minister then commented that it was obvious that they needed to consult with the public before they went to the House of Commons with a new Fisheries Act proposal. All in all it was a very congenial meeting and we were well received by the minister. She is no stranger to either the fishery, nor ministerial duties. She is part of a Prince Edward Island family that has a long history in the fishing industry. She also served for 8 years as a Provincial Minister in PEI, four of those years in the difficult portfolio of Transportation and Public Works. At our meeting it was obvious that this background has put her in good stead and that this was a minister who was; interested in our problems and issues and, quick to grasp the key factors and understand them. Time will only tell as to how much progress we will make but in the view of those attending and representing the Federation, we have made a good start. Copies of the presentations made to the minister are appended to this report. Bill Otway January 25, 2009

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  2. Cuba Libre

    Cuba Libre Well-Known Member

    With the education the lady has been recieving from the SFAB, BCWF, SFI we an only hope that she is listening. Its going to be an interesting season.

    Now- if we could only get rid of some of the senior staff that is responsible for these problems... But that aint going to happen...[V]

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