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Angling Industry Takes on B.C. Halibut Closure

Patrick Walsh

I sure hope Gail Shea has a big mailbox. And I hope she takes to heart what’s she about to hear. The federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is the target of a new letter-writing campaign launched yesterday by the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association. The issue at hand? The threatened mid-season closure of B.C.’s public halibut fishery, a move that promises to cripple the West Coast’s recreational fishing industry.

The devastating economic impact notwithstanding, what truly rankles is the fact the closure is designed to preserve the halibut fishery for B.C.’s 436 commercial quota holders, most of whom apparently don’t even fish. Instead, many of these so-called “slipper skippers” are sub-leasing their quotas to actual commercial fisherman, but at such exorbitant rates the real fisherman can’t make a living. It reminds me of the taxi barons here in Toronto who hold cab licences, but don’t drive cabs; instead, they mete out the licences at ridiculously inflated rates. Cash cow operations, these are.

Making matters worse, the DFO is now suggesting that recreational anglers also seek to purchase quotas from the holders. Basically, us ordinary mooks are being asked to pay for the right to fish — um, pay to fish for own fish?! — and that’s why the CSIA is calling BS. I couldn’t agree more.

The good news is, Minister Shea has the power to reverse this moronic commodification of halibut, but she just needs some prodding. Well, maybe a lot of prodding, and that’s where the CSIA’s letter-writing campaign comes in. Working in support of the Sport Fishing Institute of B.C., the national angling lobby wants everyone — anglers, tackle makers, distributors, retailers and so on — to write to the Minister immediately. To find out more, and for a sample letter, please contact the CSIA.

Patrick Walsh

Patrick Walsh

Patrick Walsh is Outdoor Canada's Editor-in-Chief and Brand Manager. He grew up fishing and hunting in Bracebridge, Ontario, where he began his magazine career in 1983 as assistant editor of Muskoka Life magazine. Since then, he has worked for a variety of media, both in Canada and abroad, earning numerous writing and editing awards. In 2005, 2011 and 2012, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors named him Editor of the Year, while Outdoor Canada was honoured as Magazine of the Year (in the medium circulation category). Walsh has been at the magazine's helm since 2000.

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