Boat owners scramble to get the heavy snow load off their vessels and expensive tarps.

Boat owners scramble to get the heavy snow load off their vessels and expensive tarps.

Big changes for fishermen if fisheries act ammendments go through

Let's face it people like to fish - catch or release, it's nice to have the option

By Tracey Hittel

We take a short trip across the bay and spot two ships in the berths at Rio Tinto, another on anchor waiting its turn to offload.

A pod of sea lions frolic in the frigid waters, in a feeding frenzy, after the large balls of bait we see on the depth sounder.

Watching the spectacle, I’m suddenly reminded about what I read this week with regards the proposed changes to the fisheries act that were announced.

The proposed changes include restoring fish habitats and increasing fisheries officer presence. Last year fishing along rivers like the Skeena was closed for up to a month in the peak June and July fishing periods – and boy for us in the business it’s hard to swallow a 30-day loss in revenue.

The closures inevitably put more pressure on smaller rivers like the Kitimat as well the saltwater of Prince Rupert and perhaps the Douglas Channel.

Let’s face it people like to fish – catch or release, it’s nice to have the option.

The reduction in fish biomass could include restrictions and lower limits for recreational anglers.

Freshwater fishers who are non-resident Canadians may be restricted from low-fee unguided fishing to full-on guided fishing only. This is part of the act’s freshwater framework, which seeks to address the declining stocks as fish habitats are destroyed by mother nature’s flooding of spawning grounds.

Our local hatchery has dust-covered books filled with juicy historic data. Perhaps the salmon stocks are in decline and cannot sustain the many cases of low returns.

We must prepare to have these discussions with our local Rod and Gun Club, environmental groups and the Federal Sport Fishing Advisory Committee.

I chaired the local committee for many years as well was part of the northern group to grind out the many motions put forward to DFO in Vancouver on a federal level in order for the recreational voice to be heard.

It was a gruelling process and after most two full days of meetings I needed a shower from all the debating.

I eventually had to give up my position as the big wheel, for change was a slow process and consuming a lot of my time.

We expect the opening dates for halibut in the next few weeks and wait in anticipation to see what changes may occur to the act.

Until next time fish on and stay warm.

Kitimat Northern Sentinel