Although not the first uprising of anglers, back in mid-2008 when a disagreement was brewing in British Columbia over public access to Canada’s common property Pacific halibut resource, a local angling activism campaign began by uniting sport fishermen on South Vancouver Island. This was not a dispute where conservation was an issue at all; it was simply a difference of opinion over how much of Canada’s total allowed harvest each fishing sector should be allocated. Anglers firmly believed the Canadian public was not well served.
Due to poor advice and a lack of accurate catch data, an insufficient 12% quota was forced upon the public fishery by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. There was great unrest in the fishing community up and down Canada’s west coast. An ad hoc group emerged based in Victoria, then known as Southern Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition, which was led by a steering committee and chaired by Christopher Bos. Soon the halibut allocation problem grew into a coast-wide political campaign for the angling community bent on showing the Federal Government in Ottawa the angling public would not accept our government giving away the right to a public resource in perpetuity. The ad-hoc Southern Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition teamed up with other provincial groups to form a loose alliance called the BC Sport Fishing Coalition to further this province-wide allocation fairness campaign.
In March 2012 a significant victory was won when government changed the allocation policy in favor of anglers from 12% to 15 % prior to the halibut season opening. Even today (April 2013) the Pacific halibut allocation issue is still causing friction between fishermen, fishing industry sectors and government, as the matter now sits before the court. This small piece of history exemplifies how anglers can come together for the good of all Canadians. And ironically this flap is over access to flatfish!
… stormy weather on the horizon again:
For over a decade, anglers from this region have witnessed a steady and dramatic decline in our once prosperous public fisheries. The threats to our fisheries are real and identifiable, but little of any consequence has been done to address them. Until now, there has been a gap in advocacy specific to our local fishery challenges. Failure of government to protect and enhance critical Chinook salmon habitat and lack of real effort to rebuild key fish stocks are two major contributing factors to the evident decline. Add to that a Fisheries Department who opt for fish harvest management, which in the opinion of many, is not defensible, but merely avoids legal action by other pressure groups. And what’s more they implement an allocation policy that’s unfair to the Canadian public. Now we have a Federal government who are mercilessly slashing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ budget, forcing yet more major cutbacks of staff, funding and essential services. All the aforesaid led to the disarray in which we found ourselves and SVIAC believe the public fishery is being … unjustly and short-sightedly thrown under the bus!
… an exciting new initiative:
The evident need for unity amongst anglers and a powerful advocacy group grows ever more important by the day and that is why the founding members and the inaugural Board of Directors formed this society. Terry Anderson, Christopher Miller and Christopher Bos, the three founding members, spent much of 2012 discussing and planning what must be done. They could not sit on their hands any longer witnessing further decline in fish abundance and the loss of their precious fishery. They took decisive action by launching this exciting new initiative to influence the positive change that is desperately needed. In June 2012 the founding members recruited a 30 person local angler focus-group to help inform and build an action plan. Receiving an extremely positive reception from the focus group the founding members registered South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition in July 2012 with the BC Registrar of Companies.