Many Prince Rupert residents have high concerns of the recent influx into the city of people from out of province, associated with sport fishing, during the COVID-19 health warnings of self isolation and social distancing. Discussions online in social media have grabbed local municipal and provincial politicians attention prompting them to act.
“Regarding out of town residents coming to Prince Rupert for recreation & tourism, folks, I understand that there is a growing concern regarding out of town residents coming to the area to fish and perform other tourism related activities,” Lee Brain, Mayor of Prince Rupert said in a social media post on April 1.
“Unfortunately we have already seen an influx of folks from Alberta here with their boats and trailers to sport fish. Not everyone is getting the message clearly,” Brain said.
With summer approaching, Brain said he thinks the matter is only going to get worse for communities in B.C.
Generally, the local north coast fishing season runs from late April to September.
“We are looking into what authorities we may have under existing provincial or federal orders as people should be staying at home and not traveling for non-essential purposes. We will update once we know more,” Brain said on social media, however, was not available for comment on April 3 to inquiries made by The Northern View.
Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP, Taylor Bachrach is calling on the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans to proactively discourage non-essential sport fishing trips.
Bachrach said he understands there is concern in coastal communities about the risk of visitors and that is why he has written to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans requesting the issuance of sport fishing licenses to in-province fishermen for the duration of COVID-19 as a way of limiting non essential inter-provincial travel.
“The Provincial Health Officer has advised against all non-essential travel, but we’re still seeing out-of-province sport fishermen arrive in communities, ” said Bachrach, “Sport fishing is vital to our economy, but right now we must prioritize the safety of our coastal communities.”
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on April 2, she also understands that many smaller communities are concerned about people coming to vacation homes and fishing lodges.
“I am asking people now to forego those types of travel. All non essential travel particularly to smaller communities where they may not have the recourses to support you should you become ill or should there be a transmission…” Henry said.
“…A really important thing we need to do now is to protect those who are more vulnerable in those communities particularly our seniors and our elders in remote communities around the province.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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