he upcoming recreational fishing restrictions to be announced in June, may negatively impact Sooke culture and the local hatchery.
Mike Hicks, regional director for the Juan de Fuca electoral area, said the increased conservation measures for Chinook salmon will hurt the lifestyle of many local residents who fish leisurely.
“There’s a whole loss of an industry, but also a lifestyle in our community,” he said, adding there’s much more to lose than money. “It’s not just about charter boats, fishing, lodges, bed and breakfasts and money,” he said. “It’s about the guys and girls working six days a week… and on the seventh day they go fishing.”
According to Hicks, the community has already been altered in the past, with the town quieting down after the loss of working fishermen who used to pass through the area frequenting restaurants, bars and commissioning local services.
“Look up and down the coast, the coastal communities that have just fallen apart at the loss of commercial fishing,” he said, adding Sooke used to be a vibrant fishing town, with gillnetters and trollers docked ashore.
The Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society, the local non-profit hatchery that operates to support sports fishing in Sooke, may also be affected by the restriction on the wild Chinook fishery.
“The only impact that we could feel would be if they shut the fishing down entirely, and we couldn’t have our derby,” said Mel Hull, president of the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society. “If there’s going to be fishing allowed at some level, it’s not going to impact us too much.”
The derby provides most of the operating capital for the year, bringing in about $13,000 each year. The hatchery, run solely on 14 volunteers, costs $20,000 to run a year.
“If we couldn’t put our derby on, it’d put us in a position to go around with hat in hand.”