Friday, May 14, 2010

MOE Blows it on the Skeena

The BC ministry of environment recently released its recommendations for the Skeena Angling Management Plan. It appears they've more or less aligned with the interests of the guides to implement changes that will take the fishery one step closer to being closed to non-residents unable to afford the elite guide and lodge experience. As T-Bone said during a recent discussion of the changes, "this is the seventh level of Dante's inferno" that is, they're restricting the freedom of nonresident anglers to fish the hallowed waters of the Skeena system and handing it over to guides (hardly the most reputable or fair stewards of a sport fishing resource).

The most striking changes to the regulations as I see it is the implementation of resident only saturday and sundays on all classified waters within the Skeena angling zone and the adoption of resident only angling zones on some rivers or reaches of rivers. Overall its a bullshit resource grab and will be a disservice to businesses throughout the valley which rely on nonresident angling dollars and to the Skeena itself which needs all the friends it can get. The future of the Skeena system is already on shaky ground with plans in the works for huge coal bed methane extraction in the Sacred Headwaters, a massive oil pipeline from Alberta's tar sands and continued over exploitation of steelhead as bycatch in an artifically enhanced sockeye fishery all posing serious threat. Meanwhile guides spend their time and energy fighting to keep the resource to themselves, missing the point entirely that without a strong, international outcry against these threats the Skeena will be doomed.

For the time being I'm a resident of BC so it doesn't actually affect my fishing directly, but its the principal of the thing. North American angling tradition is rooted in public access for all citizens to sport fishing opportunities and this is just one step back towards the longstanding (and totally bogus) European tradition of only the privileged and aristocratic having access to anadromous fisheries. The only other option would be to go outlaw and say screw the guides and the new regulations and I know more than a few people are planning to go that route.

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