SKEENA River boat launches were all but deserted during the recent fishing closure which affected recreational anglers.

kermodei tourism letter re: skeena closure

An open letter to:

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc

Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Dear Sir:

Kermodei Tourism Society (KTS) is the official destination marketing organization for Terrace, B.C. and the surrounding area. The society works with tourism stakeholders in the region to market and promote the area as a year-round, world-class tourism destination. The society is governed by a multi-stakeholder board of directors with representation from a broad range of sectors of the local tourism industry. KTS also operates the Visitor Information Centre at 4511 Keith Avenue in Terrace.

The KTS board of directors is deeply concerned with the recent decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to close the Skeena River Watershed to all sport and recreational salmon fishing.

Sport and recreational fishing is a multi-million dollar contributor to Terrace’s economy and is a major driver for tourism visitation by both domestic and international travellers.

This closure will have a severe impact on tourism in the region, in both the number of visitors coming to Terrace as well as vital tourism revenues for local businesses. Additionally, we feel this decision damages our reputation internationally as a world-class destination for salmon fishing which will have long-term impacts on the local tourism industry.

We are already seeing evidence of these impacts. Local accommodation providers and fishing lodges have received cancellations from both Canadian and international visitors as a result of this closure.

These cancellations are often accompanied by anger expressed by those visitors which is harmful to both the reputation of these businesses, as well as to Terrace’s reputation as a sport and recreational fishing destination. Many visitors who are currently in Terrace have cancelled their stay at local campgrounds, hotels and motels and are leaving for other communities where they are able to fish.

While we understand and support the need to balance conservation goals with aboriginal, recreational and commercial fishing opportunities, we believe that this decision betrays the interests of the recreational fishing sector who are unreasonably bearing the brunt of this closure.

We recognize the priority access rights of First Nations for food, social and ceremonial needs, however, we believe that measures could have been taken to maintain a low impact sport fishery while still satisfying First Nations’ rights and addressing the anticipated low salmon returns.

We are deeply disappointed that this closure was undertaken, and we are requesting that DFO re-visit this decision to close sport and recreational salmon fishing in the Skeena River Watershed immediately, and work with us and other stakeholders to determine appropriate steps to help the recreational fishery co-exist with the First Nations’ fishery and conservation goals.

Seth Downs

President, Board of Directors

Kermodei Tourism Society

Note: This letter was sent after the mid-June closure announcement was made and before the closure was lifted as of July 15.