I’m replying to Mr. Bruce Wishart’s piece in Wednesday’s paper regarding his article on the Halibut allocation.
I take issue with his opinion that he thinks that this is not a conservation issue. It most certainly is a conservation issue. The halibut biomass is at a low abundance cycle and each user group should be doing its part to conserve the stocks. Since 2004, Canada’s allowable harvest level has dropped by more than 45 per cent.
At the same time the recreational fishery, where 60-70 per cent of the harvest is attributed to lodge and charter businesses, has exceeded its allowable harvest limit in five of the last six years for a total of over 1.0 million pounds. Despite what Mr. Wishart may assert, that is not responsible fisheries management – the facts are that the recreational fishery is poorly monitored.
In contrast, commercial halibut fisherman are accountable for every fish that is caught not just halibut. The commercial halibut fishery has 100 per cent on-board catch monitoring and is recognized as one of the best managed fisheries in the world.
The Minister’s decision to increase the recreational allocation by 25 per cent undermines conservation and rewards unsustainable catch overages. This is not in the best interests of the resource, particularly in these times of low halibut abundance.
Mr. Wishart talks about how as a town we shouldn’t be divided on these sorts of issues and I agree. It is a shame he didn’t follow his own advice and provide a balanced, fact-based discussion of the issue rather than a one-sided, factually-incorrect diatribe on commercial fisherman and their families – his neighbors in our community.