Anglers could suffer from overregulation, says letter writer

Dual of words between fishermen continues in Terrace, B.C.

Dear Sir:

After reading Jim Culp’s recent letter “Stop the brickbats”, I could see that both of us are on a similar path, which is to do as little harm as possible to our wild steelhead, as recreational anglers. Where our paths diverge, is on overregulation.

Rob Brown’s position on regulation change is that it’s simple. He stated, “…fly fishing should be mandatory for all steelhead fisheries. Bringing this about can be effected by simple regulatory changes.” (Counting Crowds, 2013)

A case in point, of Rob’s simple regulatory change, was the trout regulation change of 2014. Rob, who represents the Northern Branch of the Steelhead Society (NBSS), put forward to the Skeena Fisheries Advisory Committee several proposals for regulation change for trout and char in Region 6 – on the premise that trout stocks were in steep decline in the Skeena Region, even though this had no scientific backing. Most of these proposals I thought were fair & logical and would have no problem supporting, as laid out by the NBSS.

Unfortunately, the Fisheries disregarded NBSS’s proposals and came up with the new regulation that we have today. This is where it becomes a controversial issue. Since publicly this new regulation was unpopular, Rob’s friends have tried to distance him from this new regulation by saying, “Although I know that Rob supports the regulation, he does not have the authority to make such a rule.” (Angler Letter is Misleading, 2013) or “We have had no influence over the Fisheries Section decision.” (In Defense of the Fish, 2013). I think we all realize that Rob didn’t make the final decision, but to not agree that his involvement in this process, in whole or in part, led to this unforeseen outcome, would be short of delusional.

The Fisheries decision doesn’t surprise me. With budget and staff cuts, they don’t have the money or man power to scientifically investigate NBSS’s claims. What does surprise me though is how Jim, the chair of the NBSS, gives overwhelming support to a decision that virtually locks down areas of Region 6 that are barely touched by humans, when the NBSS had a viable solution. I guess it’s not for me to understand and probably has something to do with the inner workings of politics.

This regulation change process seems to be a bit of a crapshoot and anything but “simple”. You really don’t know what you’ll get after submitting a proposal. I believe this process should be the last resort, after all other avenues have been exhausted, not the first.

However, Jim has informed us that the NBSS has put forward a regulation proposal which says, “…do not hold a fish out of the water” and goes as far as to call it a, “…motherhood regulation”. Then without skipping a beat he says, “…it would be impossible to enforce such a regulation”. Wouldn’t this be a colossal waste of time & money putting this through the regulation change process, and if implemented, arming our Conservation Officers with a regulation they can’t enforce? This is a motherhood concept that has numerous benefits for steelhead, but should be tackled with education not regulation.

Jim is also in favour of regulating a daily limit on the number of steelhead anglers catch & release. Sure, implementing this as a regulation might make people feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but this is another concept that would be impossible to enforce and would be better off achieved through educational videos.

To fund these videos, I would recommend the NBSS, because of its considerable influence, apply for a grant from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. The HCTF will give a grant to anyone who has a good idea that benefits fish, wildlife and habitat in British Columbia and I believe the NBSS has a good case.

Jim also stated in his letter on steelhead abundance, “My understanding is that the Skeena steelhead total stock abundance is down from those earlier decades…”, which I would agree with, but the Tyee Test Fishery numbers don’t reflect “total stock abundance”. It’s an index number that represents the minimum steelhead escapement that is available upstream to recreational fisheries and other user groups. There is really no way of knowing what the “total stock abundance” of steelhead was back in the late 50’s, unless the canneries kept track of the steelhead they processed. So the fact remains, there’s more steelhead available today for fishermen, than what was available in the 1950’s.

In addition, over the past two decades, the Tyee Test Fishery steehead escapement (the best indicator of abundance we have) has been consistently above average but not necessarily reaching historic peak returns. If this trend is to remain stable or even improve in the future, then we need to tackle the bigger issues.

An unenforceable regulation by and of itself does not make fishermen behave responsibly, what’s needed is a culture change. Using today’s Social Media, that allows people to share information, ideas, pictures and videos in a blink of an eye, a difficult to enforce concept can be quickly adopted, improving angling ethics.

Maybe it’s time for the old guard to get out of the Stone Age and into the Twenty-First Century.

Dennis Therrien,

Terrace, B.C.

Just Posted

College buys a yurt to boost student success

Round tent-like structure part of college instructional shift

Soup kitchen sees “groundswell of community support”

Donations toward looming tax bill push non-profit back in the black

Terrace husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

BC Ambulance presented each a Vital Link Award for separate incidents of CPR

Council supports lobby for fair share of cannabis tax revenue

The City of Terrace is throwing its support behind a West Kelowna… Continue reading

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Most Read