Recreational fishermen should work with the process

Recreational lodge and charter vessel interests are trying to make the federal government’s February decision to uphold a longstanding halibut allocation policy into an election issue, particularly on Vancouver Island.

Recreational lodge and charter vessel interests are trying to make the federal government’s February decision to uphold a longstanding halibut allocation policy into an election issue, particularly on Vancouver Island.

But the real question is whether we manage a public resource that both supports and feeds Canadians according to proper science, sound fisheries management and careful policy development that involves all stakeholders, or by who can get the most protesters in front of a TV camera, write the most letters to the editor, or fund extensive lobbying campaigns.

No country should know better than Canada that political interference does not make for good fisheries management.

The February decision upheld the 2003 division of the Canadian halibut Total Allowable Catch between the two sectors for 2011, maintained the same recreational catch limits as the previous two years and announced a pilot program to allow recreational interests increased access through the acquisition of additional quota.

The decision also set in place a process to examine options for 2012.  Despite the outcry from recreational operators, it’s a fair and sensible approach.

The original 2003 halibut allocation decision, upheld by subsequent ministers both Liberal and Conservative, was the result of a three-year, inclusive process.

After a series of independently facilitated meetings, the government retained an independent allocation advisor – now a BC Supreme Court judge – to meet with participants from both fisheries, review the facts and advise on initial sharing arrangements and how allocation could change over time.

Far from arbitrary or unfair, the halibut policy provided commercial and recreational shares of 88 percent and 12 percent respectively, after First Nations rights have been met.

It also proposed that recreational businesses should be able to acquire quota from the commercial sector to meet market demand.

The government’s recent decision allows the lodge and charter sector to grow without penalizing individual anglers who simply want a couple of halibut for the freezer.

Canadian residents with a BC tidal water recreational licence ($21 annually) can still catch one halibut a day, each and every day.

It also tasks parliamentary secretary Randy Kamp, MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, with drafting halibut management options for 2012.

It’s a straightforward, transparent approach in line with previous policy decisions, rather than one influenced by lobbying outside the process.

The decision also makes the sustainability of the resource paramount.  With Canada and the United States – the signatories to the Pacific Halibut Treaty – in a cyclical period of low halibut abundance, conservation is vital to carefully managing the resource.

Both countries have reduced allowable harvests for commercial and recreational fisheries to avoid overfishing.  In BC, Total Allowable Catch for both sectors has declined from 13.24 million pounds in 2006 to 7.65 million pounds for 2011.

These are difficult times for BC’s commercial halibut fishermen. In addition to high fuel prices and monitoring costs, we have seen our catch levels decrease by almost 43 percent since 2006.

Commercial halibut fishermen fully support these measures to protect the resource. We are accountable for every single fish we harvest, with each fish videotaped as it’s pulled from the water, recorded in a logbook, counted again on landing by a dockside monitor and tagged with a unique serial number to validate its origin.

By contrast, the recreational fishery, with the lodge and charter vessel sector accounting for 60-70 percent of the catch, has overfished its quota for three of the past four years.

Rather than sharing protection of the resource, the lodge and charter business, which is every bit as commercial as commercial fisheries, wants more fish at the expense of commercial fishermen and the Canadian public, most of whom buy halibut at grocery stores or in restaurants not through trips to pricey fishing lodges.

The 2011 trial program allows these lodges and charters to increase their access to halibut.  If this isn’t “economically feasible” as recreational spokesmen have insisted, then halibut is probably worth more as food than fun.

Meanwhile, the commercial fishery has invested in the halibut fishery for over 100 years.  We recently became the first fishery in BC to be certified by the international Marine Stewardship Council as sustainable with the full support of the David Suzuki Foundation.

We carefully match fleet size to harvest limits to reduce pressure on the resource and minimize environmental impacts.

And we count every single fish we catch.

Commercial halibut fishermen are ready to work with the process announced in February.

Recreational fishermen should do the same.

 

 

 

Lyle Pierce,

Vice-President,

Pacific Halibut Management Association,

Comox, BC.

 

Just Posted

Map of the road work that will be completed this summer. The streets highlighted in red are what the district planned on completing before additional funding, and the streets highlighted in orange is the road works that will be done with the additional funding. (District of Kitimat photo)
$1.1 million allocated for road work this year in Kitimat

Kitimat council has added $470,000 for more work by deferring four other projects.

Hirsch Creek Golf Course Volunteer, Augie Penner, talking about how he continues the tradition, set by Joe Atamchuck, to catch and release fry that keep spawning at the course. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat golf course volunteers making moves for the fishlings

During the highwater season, salmon are known to lay their eggs in the ponds at the golf course

Ocean Wise’s cetacean photogrammetry research program uses aerial images collected by boat-launched drones to measure the body condition of whales. (Ocean Wise Marine Mammal License MML-18 photo)
LNG Canada commits $750K to whale research, conservation initiative

Ocean Wise education team will work alongside educational and Indigenous leaders in the area

The Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be closed from June 28 until September 13 for annual facility maintenance as well as teach pool and decking repairs. (Black Press photo)
Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre closed: June 28 – September 13

The aquatic centre will be closed for annual facility maintenance

Shoes are being left at the viewpoint on Haisla Blvd in response to the 215 bodies discovered at the Kamloops Residential School. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Haisla Nation responds to 215 Indigenous children found buried at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School

“Many Haisla children were sent far away, to places such as Port Alberni, and to Coqualeetza”

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

John Kromhoff with some of the many birthday cards he received from ‘pretty near every place in the world’ after the family of the Langley centenarian let it be known that he wasn’t expecting many cards for his 100th birthday. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Cards from all over the world flood in for B.C. man’s 100th birthday

An online invitation by his family produced a flood of cards to mark his 100th birthday

FILE – Nurse Iciar Bercian prepares a shot at a vaccine clinic for the homeless in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
B.C. scientists to study effectiveness of COVID vaccines in people with HIV

People living with HIV often require higher doses of other vaccines

A 50-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle Tuesday, June 15, crashing through a West Vancouver school fence that surrounds playing children. (West Vancouver Police)
Driver ticketed for speeding near B.C. school crashes into playground fence days later

‘It’s an absolute miracle that nobody was injured,’ says Const. Kevin Goodmurphy

Dr. Réka Gustafson, who is British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer, speaks during a news conference in Vancouver on April 8, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. public health officials prepare to manage COVID-19 differently in the future

Flu-like? Health officials anticipate shift from pandemic to communicable disease control strategies

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Camper the dog was found Wednesday night by someone walking their own dog along Hollywood Crescent. She had gone missing after a violent attack on June 11. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Camper the dog found safe after fleeing violent van attack in Victoria

Young dog was missing for almost a week after incident

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

Most Read