Call to Action – Help Save BC’s Public Fishery

Call to Action – Help Save BC’s Public Fishery

WCFGA Members – we need each person to write a letter asap

Our Public Recreational Fishery is under attack.  Fisheries Minister Wilkinson will be receiving DFO Management advice most likely in the weeks of March 11 or 18, with respect to management options for Fraser Chinook (aka Option A or Option B).

In that, Minister Wilkinson will likely read advice from a number of ENGO groups calling for closure of the recreational fishery, or in the alternative strong support for Option A.   While not all ENGO’s support closing the recreational fishery, there has been a strong media campaign over several months taking direct aim at closure of the public fishery.

As the Minister’s decision is imminent, the need for you to write directly to the Minister is never more important.   A personal letter, not a form letter is the best option.   Simply state your concerns.   Outline the social and economic cost and how Option A will effectively remove your opportunity and expectation of catching fish.  Tell the Minister how people and jobs will be impacted in your community.  The recreational fishery in BC generates 9,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in revenues each year – why are western Canadian jobs any less important from a public policy perspective than 9,000 jobs at SNC Lavalin?

Surely this is significant enough of an issue and threat to western jobs and economies, to warrant extensive Cabinet debate and careful attempt to achieve a balance between protecting Chinook stocks and our Public Fishery.

Over 700 people took the time to write personal letters to DFO expressing their views on the Chinook Measures Options.  If you already sent a letter, thank you.   What we are asking you to do now is re-send that same letter directly to the Minister.   Anyone who hasn’t had opportunity to write, please do so in the next few days.  Delaying even until March 15 may be too late.   Be heard.

Here’s the Minister’s email:


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IPHC Halibut Update

Members, you will be receiving a newsletter update in the mail shortly.   The purpose of the newsletter being mailed directly to you is for us to share updates and also remind members that your 2016 membership dues are now payable.  Once we receive your dues, we will mail out a membership card for 2016 which can be used for member discounts.  Please note that participating retailers and insurers who are offering WCFGA membership discounts are looking for the new 2016 cards.

The SFI has also partnered with WCFGA to offer CTAG members a discounted dual membership.  Normally dues for both are $50 each, totalling $100.  However under the new program you can renew both with the WCFGA for $70, a nice $30 discount!

We are having e-mail issues!  Members change their e-mail addresses, which creates a bounce back on group mail-outs preventing quick efficient email communication.  When you mail back your membership renewal and payment please make sure you clearly PRINT your e-mail address so we can update our group list.

Halibut – as you may know WCFGA paid to send Deryk Krefting to represent us at the IPHC meetings in Alaska this year as a part of the Canadian Conference Board delegation.  Canada had 7 recreational Conference Board members, which was a very important presence at the IPHC.  The US delegation argued very hard for Canada to be held to the Blue Line TAC, which would have been 5.22 million pounds, whereas Canada argued successfully for 7.30 million pounds.  You can only imagine what our halibut fishery could have looked like at 5.22 million pounds – it would have been a very short season!

The final IPHC allocation of 7.30 million pounds is a slight increase over 2015, and after the release mortality discards are deducted represents around a 37,000 pound increase.  However, one of the issues Canada has faced is the US side is arguing strenuously that our recreational creel surveys have areas and times where we report 0 (zero) catch.  Canada’s position has been that our Commercial and Recreational catch monitoring is the most sophisticated and accurate, whereas the US catch monitoring is inherently poorly structured with a under reporting bias.  Canada has worked over the last few years to implement an Internet based creel survey to address concerns there are missing Area and Time data from our current creel surveys.  Thus the focus on building an improved creel model – iREC – to augment the traditional creel surveys.  Had we not pursued a method to augment our creel, the US side would have had more ammunition to hold our TAC to the far lower Blue Line TAC.

As a result, DFO will be implementing use of the iREC internet based creel survey data to fill in areas and times where we do not have traditional creel survey data for 2016.  This is new for 2016, and does reduce the amount of usable TAC that we have to work with as it fills in catch for both areas and times where in past we did not post any catch.

The SFAB then had the difficult job of interpreting how iREC would potentially play out in 2016, and consider that along with the sharp decline in the Canadian dollar which is forecast to increase US recreational visitors to fish halibut.  It was very clear working through the predictive models that even the status quo from 2015 halibut regulations would not be achievable without an unacceptable degree of risk of closing the season early.  Bear in mind the SFAB is also governed by policy that requires it to advance management options that will result in a full season within an acceptable level of risk there would be no early closure.

DFO is now considering a management option of 133cm for the large fish, and 83 cm for the smaller fish.  We will continue with 1 per day, 2 possession and a maximum annual limit of 6 fish.   Assuming DFO moves ahead with 133/83, the only change really is to lower the size of the smaller fish in order to ensure the predicted catch would be low enough to run a full season.

DFO will determine the halibut regulations for 2016, and provide an announcement in a few weeks to put in place the regulations which commence April 1.


IPHC Meeting Updates

We currently have Deryk Krefting who is one of our Directors up in Alaska at the IPHC meetings.  The WCFGA has a seat on the Conference Board of Canada at the IPHC.  As a sitting member, we have input into Canada’s Conference Board presentations regarding the eventual TAC Canada is assigned.

Canada is doing a good job representing our ability to manage the Halibut TAC in a professional and constructive manner.  We have consistently managed within TAC and demonstrated a trustworthy track record.

Some of the issues we will be facing are recreational catch monitoring.  DFO has been taking steps to improve the creel surveys through guide/lodge log books, over flights, creel samples and now the internet surveys (iREC).  With the use of iREC now coming in 2016, this will add about 8 to 10% additional catch to our recreational creel.  We are asking members to include log books in their fishing programs going forward so we can get more accurate catch data in areas and times where there is no creel data and as such the iREC survey has to be used to help address gaps.  We are not 100% sold on iREC being accurate, and may over-estimate catch based on survey bias.

Going into 2016, we will be faced with reductions to our available Halibut TAC due to inclusion of iREC catch data and also catch and release mortality or “discards.”  At the moment the discards based on 2015 would be around 34,000 pounds and about 20,000 pounds for additional iREC catch.  This is more TAC that the rec fishery used in 2015 for Feb and March combined.  Thus you can see the impacts.

The only way forward without seeing some increasingly more restrictive management measures will be for Canada to achieve a higher TAC for 2016.  At the moment it would appear the halibut biomass is increasing so we are aiming to argue for higher TAC.  Current blue line assessment is 7.35 million pounds for Canada compared to 7.035 million last year.  This is only an estimate and is not the final TAC assessment.  We will hear more on January 29 when the official announcement is made.

Regardless the WCFGA is at the table helping establish an improved TAC allocation decision for Canada.  From there DFO will have to determine how the 15% TAC is then managed for the recreational fishery.  Those decisions will be made at the SFAB process next weekend.

Being involved and at the table is one of the key benefits of belonging to the WCFGA.  We are a lobby organization, and being connected as guides places us in a unique position to advocate for recreational fishers and guides.  It allows us to speak with one voice on key issues, and hopefully help contribute to improving recreational opportunity for our guests.




WCFGA pleased to announce new Web Site and Forum

We are excited to announce the WCFGA web site which thanks to Al Boyd is under construction and running.  We have also included a blog and forum to create easy ways for members to exchange ideas and also to alert us to issues that the WCFGA needs to take action on.  Another feature of the forum is members can advertise items for sale or even post up job opportunities.  This is a massive step forward for our Association and helps advance our core Constitutional objective of creating a way to exchange information and inform the Guide community of key issues.

You can download the membership form, talk to friends who maybe should be new members and renew your current membership.  The membership forms are mailed in to Paul Dore, who will mail back a membership card that you can present to participating retailers for WCFGA discounts.

Additionally, we are looking to extend opportunities for our retail partners to advertise on our web site for modest rates that will allow us to offset the cost of running our site.

Also, a reminder that we have a membership meeting tomorrow (Sunday Dec 6th at 2 pm at the Port Alberni Kin Hut).  Please come out as we have Wilf Ludke from DFO attending to provide updates to members on the DNA program and to talk about ways we can open lines of communication between DFO and WCFGA.

Please visit our website, sign up for the forum and start posting!  Let’s open up the discussion and connect members to important issues.

Thanks, PatIMG_0118

WCFGA Meeting- Sunday December 6th @ 2:00 – Port Alberni Kin Hut

Happy off season.
We are planning a WCFGA meeting for December 6th. There are a number of issues on the agenda which we are firming up. Planning to invite DFO to provide updates on our DNA sample program and also to discuss how WCFGA can work with DFO to improve in-season consultation and observation of the fishery.
We also desperately need to discuss Halibut, and in particular our participation at the IPHC meetings which this year will be held in Alaska. We have to discuss travel costs to the IPHC and determine if we can afford to send a representative this year. There are also some developments in how the halibut catch monitoring will be happening next season which if implemented mean fairly large increases in how fast we use up our halibut TAC. Possible early closures and/or other management measures if we want a full season.
Lastly, we need a plan and someone from within the WCFGA to help us set up a website to allow us to improve our efforts to communicate to membership.
Speaking of membership, if you haven’t yet paid up and received your 2015/16 membership card please complete the attached form and mail in your $50 cheque (we need the memberships).
Please mark your calendars and bring a friend to the meeting.

New Forum for Sport Fishers

New forum for all Sports Fishers has been started at Forum


Get registered and start posting today….