One of our field editors, North Vancouver’s George Gruenefeld, just told me that Bill Otway has passed, dead from brain cancer. Damned cancer, again. George had let me know about a week ago that Bill, 75, was fighting his last battle at the Gillis Hospice in Meritt, B.C. I doubt any outdoorsperson who lives in B.C. didn’t know Bill, but for the rest of you, here’s a bit of why hunters and anglers have just lost a huge champion.
Back in 2002, Outdoor Canada named him one of the 35 most influential people in the Canadian outdoors. In short, he’s been fighting for the rights of anglers and hunters in his home province since the early 1970s, when he was named executive director of the B.C. Wildlife Federation. And as the recreational fisheries advisor/ombudsman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for 15 years starting in 1985, Bill influenced numerous policy decisions affecting B.C.’s fish. Then in 2000, he helped launch the Sportfishing Defence Alliance, formed largely in response to disagreement with the DFO’s West Coast management policies. As the group’s president, Bill contended the department was unfairly penalizing sport anglers by imposing blanket fishing bans meant to prevent Native gill netting.
But that’s the only group that benefited from this tireless outdoorsman Here’s a sampling of some of his association work:
B.C. Conservation Foundation
B.C. Salmon Society
B.C. Wildlife Federation
Canadian Nature Federation
Lower Mainland Regional Branch
National Sport Fishing Institute
North American Fisheries Society
Outdoor Writers of Canada
Pitt Waterfowl Management Association
Port Coquitlam & District Hunting & Fishing Club
Quatsino Sound Enhancement Society
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Shooting Federation of Canada
Sport Fishing Institute of BC
Steelhead Society of BC
He was also an honorary Life Member of the Port Coquitlam & District Hunting & Fishing Club, the North Peace Rod & Gun Club, the North Shore Fish & Game Club and the B.C Wildlife Federation.
Then there were the many awards:
1982 Canadian Outdoorsman of the Year
1990 Ducks Unlimited Teal Award for raising over $100,000 as a volunteer
1991 Ted Barsby Trophy: B.C.’s Conservationist of the Year
1993 Silver Teal Award for raising over $250,000.
1999 BCWF Special Recognition “One who has made a Difference”
First-ever Member Emeritus of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board
National Recreational Fisheries Award presented by the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans