It is with sadness that I see news that the Juan de Fuca Invitational Salmon Championship near Victoria has been cancelled for 2012.
The fact that this important social and cultural event for the B.C. recreational fishery, which over its 25-year history has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for much-needed salmon habitat and stock enhancement work that has been cancelled, should be enough of a tragedy, but it isn’t the whole story.
This major blow to the B.C. angling community and the tourism-based businesses that support it is a symptom of a far larger problem.
It appears that over the past couple of decades the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has forgotten how important recreational fishing is to British Columbians and increasingly seems to have lost touch with the value of our fishery and how it works.
To illustrate the depth of this problem, you only have to look as far as DFO’s own planning and priority document for 2012. It 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 becomes even more evident when we find out that DFO intends on spending $101.6 million to support commercial fisheries activity, while the recreational fishery is allocated $5.9 million. Talk about no respect.
The issues that flow out of this clear disregard for the recreational fishery affect many species across the entire province. Coho, Chinook, halibut, prawn, and crab are all glaring examples of fisheries where the recreational sector is becoming increasingly marginalized.
They know that further reductions in sport catch will do nothing to help these stocks, yet once again they will take what they feel is the path of least resistance rather than deal with the thornier issues.
If the 300,000 or so anglers who value the precious time we spend on the water with family and friends, and the hundreds of businesses that are keeping coastal communities afloat across this province with their economic activity aren’t important to DFO, perhaps it’s time we remind them that we are here, we are important and we aren’t going anywhere.
Write the minister, talk to your local politicians, or just do something to make them understand that we are important, we do care and we have had enough.
Pedder Bay RV Resort & Marina
Oak Bay Marine Group