Halibut issue This halibut allocation battle is getting real old, real fast. The Commercial Halibut Management Association which has dropped the gloves in an all out fight against ordinary Canadians who just go out on the water and do what they love to do….fish. Now it’s directing it’s venom at the thousands of hard working Canadians who make up, in their eyes the newly invented “commercial recreational” sport-fishing sector. I’m not sure which public relations firm they have hired to help them spread this “commercial recreational” nonsense around but its sounds very similar to the repeated “we can do no harm” we hear from the Salmon Farmers Association . If you tell people something over and over again, eventually one has a tendency to believe. Fishing charter operators, fishing guides, fishing lodges and the MILLIONS, yes MILLIONS of Canadians who have flocked the beautiful west coast of British Columbia over the years to pursue their passion of catching salmon, and halibut are all part of ONE SECTOR, not some dreamed up, newly created one. The sport fishing sector made up of 80-90% Canadians and pumps $650 MILLION ANNUALLY into the BC economy, far more than the $150 million of ALL B.C. commercial fisheries combined. We will NEVER be divided by this “divided and conquer” mentality of the latest attack on how the Canadian angling public spends our free time, our money or how we decide to feed our families. Its simple defies common sense that our local Conservative MP John Duncan (Vancouver Island North) is backing this anti -recreational movement that spends hundreds of millions of dollars in his own backyard. Mr Duncan’s press release of last week stating and I quote” the commercial sector of the recreational halibut fishery” is proof that he towing the same line as the commercial sector that he has backed since this ridiculous allocation policy came into being. Mr Duncan knows full well that the halibut stocks are healthy and are the best managed fish stocks in the world. To have Mr Duncan turn this into conservation issue is laughable. Neither sector would be able to fish halibut this year if that were the case. It did not surprise anyone that after TWO full years of silence Mr Duncan and refusals to meet with anyone from the sport fishing sector that he came out with this political drivel the day after over 350 people attended the Campbell River town hall meeting put on by the BC Sport Fishing Coalition. Mr Duncan, no one is buying your side of the story. The Canadian sport fishing sector has been silent for far too long in dealing with federal fisheries issues, commercially biased, east coast based federal fisheries ministers who have never understood “our way of life” here on the west coast or how important our recreational sector is to the BC economy. Other than the Sport Fish Advisory Board (SFAB) no real avenue has ever been available to voice "OUR" concerns to DFO. Now with the total failure of all attempts by the SFAB to deal with DFO and the looming closure of the recreational halibut fishery in mid-season this year, it is time for the sleeping giant to wake up and be heard. This is just now happening and gaining speed under one unified coalition The B.C. Sports Fishing Coalition. The BC Sport Fishing Coalition is solidly backed by thousands upon thousands of passionate Canadian anglers, the 38,000 strong BC Wildlife Federation, guides associations, The Sport Fishing Institute of BC, The B.C Marine Trades Association and thousands of Canadians on the B.C Coast who feed their families with income derived from the sport fishing sector. Town hall meetings up and down Vancouver Island have drawn over flow crowds and with more meetings planned for the north coast and the lower mainland. These meetings have been informative and well run, with up to date information now flowing around the BC coast and to the sport fishing community. http://www.sfibc.com/ It is now time for all those who have a passion for sport fishing, "our distinct way of life", the outdoors, doing the right thing to speak up and be heard. It’s quite obvious that the commercial sector has heard our voices and has continued to target ordinary Canadians with inflammatory ads in major newspapers instead of working with us to solve a difficult issue. Our federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, MP John Duncan and the decision makers in Ottawa have done nothing but make this unworkable situation worse. Their ignorance and silence has done nothing but fuel the flames between the residents of BC who are involved in both sectors. This halibut allocation issue has been festering like a bad infection for 7 years now. It needs to be fixed now so the sport fishing sector can continue working to do draw hundreds of thousands of tourists and anglers to the BC coast every year and keep thousands of BC residents employed. To shut down $650 million / year sport fishery during tough economic times or any other time would cause irreversible damage to the entire BC economy and take years to recover. Delaying the opening of the Halibut season, as announced on Thursday, has resulted in more charter cancellations, cancelled airline flights, rumours spreading around the angling world, anglers re-booking charters to Alaska, uncertainty in the tourism industry and a myriad of other unnecessary consequences of this unnecessary and biased political indecision.