How about some whine with that halibut?

I think the public is getting sick and tired of the whining from the recreational sector regarding halibut allocations.

Dear editor:

I think the public is getting sick and tired of the whining from the recreational sector regarding halibut allocations.

They claim the Minister of Fisheries has let them down.

This is nonsense considering the 25 per cent increase they just received in their total allowable catch.

The only people here who were let down are the commercial fishermen, and the people they feed.

Fishermen are a lot like farmers, who produce beef, poultry, fruit and vegetables.

Fishermen harvest salmon, crab, prawns, halibut, etc.

Without these farmers and fishermen, there would be no food on the shelf of your local grocery store, nor anything on the menu at your favourite restaurant.

Like with agricultural land, which should stay in the hands of the farmers, the vast majority of the fish should be kept in the hands of commercial fishermen.

After all, the 85 per cent of halibut harvested by the commercial fishermen is for the masses, not for the fishermen themselves.

If commercial fishermen want halibut they have to buy it like everyone else. The recreational sector has an estimated 100,000 anglers who fish halibut.

It is a small, elite group who are fishing to fill their own freezers, especially compared to the 30 million other Canadians who have no other choice but to purchase halibut from the store or at a restaurant.

That fish is provided by the commercial sector.

As for the anglers who claim to be the original conservationists, they have obviously lost their way considering they have gone over their total allowable catch for five years running by a total of 1.3 million pounds — 270,000 pounds last year alone.

This is a conservation issue. With the lack of enforcement there is wide range poaching and irresponsible fishing practises with no accountability within the recreational sector.

Six or seven years ago the Department of Fisheries told commercial fishermen unless they cleaned up their act there would be no more commercial halibut fishery.

They succeeded with lots of sacrifices.

Now with 100 percent monitoring they never exceed their total allowable catch, are accountable for all species of by-catch and have achieved a sustainable fishery.

Perhaps the same measures need to be taken by the recreational sector. This is the 21st century and accountability and conservation come first.

The days and practices of the wild west fishery are over and no longer acceptable.

This continuing argument of unfairness and push for more quota is an ill-conceived scheme by the powerful for-profit charter and lodge industry.

The unfair part is that the lodge industry harvests 70 per cent of the recreational quota while dragging the everyday recreational angler into the fight to line their own pockets.

The other unfair part is that this for-profit lodge industry is fighting to take quota from the commercial industry without compensating them, when the commercial fishermen have made huge investments in the industry.

What is wrong with one halibut a day?

If you’re still hungry you can take 200 prawns, six crab, four salmon, three ling cod, three rock fish and a bucket of clams as well.

Maybe you need a bigger boat.

Let’s hope Ottawa stops treating the recreational sector like a bad parent treats an unruly child- they gave in once to the complaining but it’s time to say: No more.

Skye Johnston

Courtenay B.C.

 

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