Minister Duncan asked to talk to North Island commerical halibut fishermen

A letter to the editor asking federal minister John Duncan not to forget the commercial halibut fishermen of the North Island.

Dear editor,

The following letter is addressed to MP John Duncan.

Recent arbitrary directives made by Canadian federal politicians and implemented by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada has placed huge uncertainty in all communities wishing access to the Pacific halibut fishery.

The uncertainty of opportunity within the sport fish halibut sector creates a level of concern and confusion among anglers hoping to catch a halibut. The uncertainty of mid season closings will discourage many who would otherwise make time and financial commitments to travel to an area to fish halibut. Further uncertainties make any planning by sport fish groups and the communities that they help support, almost impossible. It is tough to interest someone in a halibut trip in January when openings and daily quotas are To Be Announced sometimes months later. The uncertainty of a quota system is not so much the question here but federally dictated process of timing and allocation certainly is.

Many British Columbia coastal communities have seen their industrial bases downsize. Some of them have successfully incorporated some aspects of tourism in their future plans. The Sport fishing industry, as an integral community partner, makes positive economic contributions for all in communities that have a predictable access to the resource.

The new arbitrary Federal percentage allocations (88% commercial vs 12% for others) as they are, dramatically change the focus in the sport sector. The present methods place additional hardships on communities trying to expand their economic base by promoting tourism alternatives.

There does appear to be a concerted effort by the strongest lobby groups to eventually own complete control of the halibut resource. It will make quotas a marketable commodity, sold at a premium to the highest bidder and purchased by only by those wealthy enough to own one.

Although you are no longer the fisheries critic in Opposition in Ottawa, one would hope not to see you publicly noted as a no show at fishery related gatherings in your own constituency. Surely not all of the attendees voted against your previous decisions as they pertained to fishery matters.

Why sir, when you having been quoted as saying “it’s all about conservation“, can you not spare all your constituents the time to explore alternatives? Your reluctance to participate with constituent anglers is yours to choose.

In conclusion, if as some politicians suggest “its all about conservation”, why were just the allocation percentages rearranged? (now 88% commercial vs. 12% sport). Why was a halibut conservation stamp, with an annual quota not added to sport fishing licences? If it’s good enough, for Lingcod and Chinook quotas, then why not halibut?

I am looking forward to you revisiting this issue. Perhaps we can all look forward to your assistance in finding a mutually acceptable solution that removes future sport catch uncertainties. I await your positive reply.

K. G. Smith,

Port Hardy,