SFI Member Update
May 3, 2012
Sport Fishing for the Future
May 3, 2012
Good season underway - great expectations for summer
The 2012 recreational fishing season looks like it will be another solid year for BC anglers. Expectations for salmon and halibut catches are high and the early indications suggest that our optimism is not misplaced.
Bumps in the road
Unfortunately the halibut allocation debate continues. One of the least discussed aspects of DFO's recent allocation changes is its plans to make last year's experimental program for leasing halibut quota a permanent fixture. This program, whose few participants were not required to abide by commercial or recreational regulations, was an unmitigated disaster last year, with few fish recorded and with widespread acknowledgement from the department that it lacked the staff and resources to police the program in any meaningful way.
We believe that the program is ill-suited to the sector and divisive. It attempts to create user-group distinctions within the recreational fishery where none exist. DFO held a number of community meetings to discuss this program further, and not surprisingly, turnout was sparse and angler support for this deeply flawed system was virtually non-existent.
Ultimately we remain firm in our belief that a fixed number allocation system is the only real solution to the challenges facing our critical halibut fishery.
Striving for a healthy future for recreational fisheries...is challenging
On the salmon planning front, we've been watching the developments on Southern Vancouver Island with considerable interest and alarm. Many Victoria-based anglers are concerned that in an effort to deal with Fraser River Chinook, DFO could impose new limits on Chinook retention, over and above those that have been in place for the last few years. Anglers are understandably upset that after having made greater efforts than any other sector to increase the number of fish that return to the river, DFO may be calling on them to accept additional restrictions before it pursues alternative strategies. All anglers should be concerned about this approach and should actively encourage DFO to consider additional salmon enhancement and habitat protection measures before simply seeking further recreational restrictions.
Martin Paish, OBMG, recently summed up some thoughts and frustrations on the topic in an editorial provided to publications including the Province and Times Colonist - click here to view Martin's article
We are also growing increasingly concerned about the extent to which DFO seems indifferent to the economics of recreational fishing. As any recreational angler will tell you, while going fishing needn't be expensive the costs and related expenditures can and often do add up. The 300,000 recreational anglers who go sport fishing every year inject a considerable amount of money into the provincial economy in their effort to catch a fish or two. Indeed, according to a study by the provincial government, fully 40% of all the Gross Domestic Product produced by fisheries and aquaculture in British Columbia are directly attributed to the recreational fishery. Almost half of the province's fisheries economy is created by people like you and me in our quest to catch a fish. And since we all do far more fishing than catching, we are helping support an industry that creates an incredible added value for every fish caught.
None of this may be new to you, but it appears to fall on deaf ears with DFO who seems increasingly bent on reducing the support it provides to the recreational fishery while propping up the commercial fishery. For example; you only have to look as far as DFO's own planning and priority document for 2012. This shows that the target landed value for commercial fisheries nationwide is $5 billion, while the target for the value of the recreational fishery is $7.5 billion! The seriousness of the problem is highlighted when we find out that DFO will spend $101.6 million to support commercial fisheries, while the recreational fishery will receive less than $6 million.
Catch monitoring activities
More than ever, it is important that recreational anglers continue to provide catch data to DFO. While there is always the lingering concern that data can be used to undermine our interests, the simple reality is that in the absence of credible catch data DFO will be left very little alternative but to make decisions based on precautionary and conservative catch estimates. An effort to better inform science with quality recreational catch data will provide opportunity to refute baseless claims and potentially enable access to fishing at times and areas currently in question. There are new opportunities to participate in logbook programs, utilizing e-log or iPhone applications and we continue to assist in and recommend ways to improve.
If you are interested in participating in catch monitoring activities and are not sure where to turn for details or materials please feel free to contact the SFI office at 604.946.0734 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dependent on what region you are fishing, we will be able to direct you to the appropriate DFO personnel for information or materials.
Certified Tidal Angling Guides
The TAG program continues to build; the first-in-North America Certified Tidal Angling Guide program has surpassed 160 qualified guides for the 2012 season! We look forward to building on the opportunity to promote professionalism and highlight qualified professional fishing guides. Yet another way to make it known that BC offers the best sport fishing opportunities in the world!
For more information contact:
Sport Fishing Institute of BC
The SFI Team,
Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia
Thank you for your support. Your contributions helps us work on behalf of the industry.