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New anglers' coalition hopes to lobby Ottawa

A new society has been formed to lobby different levels of government against the decline of the recreational fishery on South Vancouver Island.

The South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition has an objective to educate municipal, provincial and federal levels of government on the social and economic importance of the region’s fishery to increase access for all Canadians.

“The purpose of the society is to act as a lobbying voice for the angling community of South Vancouver Island. We want to see the stop in the decline of the fishery that we’ve been witnesses over the last 10 years,” said Christopher Bos, SVIAC president.

“In other words we want to return and rebuild the robust, thriving fisheries that we had on South Vancouver Island historically. It’s important that we have abundant, healthy fish populations and we would like to see our wild fish given more respect by our government and more emphasis on rebuilding those stocks that are of concern.

“We are anglers that need to get the message out about the social significance and the importance of angling to the lifestyles of many people who live on South Vancouver Island as well as the economic impact that we bring when we have a thriving fishery.”

Bos stated over the course of 10 years, he’s observed increased restrictions and a massive decline of local fisheries like coho, chinook and halibut.

“When I say decline, I use the term of 50 per cent of our fishing time in the last decade is now under heavy restrictions or closed compared to a decade ago,” he said.

“We believe the Department of Fisheries and Ocean is using the reduction of fishing opportunities for commercial, recreational, and the First Nations as a method of recovery, which has proven to be historically a failure.”

He said the DFO is not addressing the root problem in fish stock decline, which could be a result from massive overfishing from commercial fleets, climate changes, destruction of habitat overtime or human caused activities.

“We don’t believe that it’s all nature caused as to why there are these declines and we believe that we can through our lobbying efforts create a positive change,” Bos said. “I’m not saying there’s not conservation concern on some of the fish, but we believe that’s not being addressed properly.”

One of the long-term goals of the society is to hire a full-time lobbyist in Ottawa who will speak on behalf of South Vancouver Island anglers. A position that will come at a hefty price of between $100,000 to $120,000.

Bos acknowledged the organization has a long road ahead.

The organization, became a society in July and had it’s first meeting on Nov. 27 in Langford.

“We had about 125 people attend our meeting and we signed up over 60 per cent of attendants as members on the spot,” Bos said.

As a new organization, the society has identified the four following tasks:

• Development of a strong membership base.

• Development of a three-year business plan to identify the key components such as details on the     professional lobbyists, whether or not to take legal action on issues of importance, and how to proceed with     activism campaigns.

Perform an economic study on the fishery of South Vancouver Island for lobbying efforts.

• Introduce themselves and educate all politicians within the SVIAC jurisdiction  on fresh water and salt water angling on South Vancouver Island. Attain their support for lobbying efforts in Ottawa.

• Generation of a large amount of funds.

Info at: www.anglerscoalition.com.

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