Alberni politicians voice concern over recreational fishing closures

City urges for more federal consultation

Port Alberni city council has concerns about a potential fishing closure on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced last week that it is seeking feedback from the public on a revised strategy to protect southern and northern killer whales. This revised strategy looks to expand restricted fishing zones in areas on South and West Vancouver Island.

READ: Proposed fishing restrictions will be devastating: officials

Earlier this year, the DFO announced a recreational fishing closure in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Otter Point in Sooke to the entrance of Port Renfrew.

During a council meeting on Monday, July 9, Councillor Jack McLeman read a letter from the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce that described how the closure has “devastated” the Sooke area.

“Recreational fishers are now jammed into a small area, have a lower success rate for salmon and a non-existent success rate for halibut,” the letter read.

The DFO is now seeking feedback for a closure of the outer banks of the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Wednesday, July 11 was the deadline for input.

McLeman was not happy with the lack of time for public input, and recommended that the city urge for more federal government consultation with local governments.

“Not just two weeks in the summer holidays,” McLeman said. “I really believe it is an emergency that we should at least support.”

Councillor Chris Alemany pointed out that these measures are being considered in order to increase protection for southern and northern resident orcas, but agreed that more consultation will benefit the city.

Other than current fishing closures within Juan de Fuca, the Gulf Islands and the mouth of the Fraser River, no further closures are planned until the DFO receives feedback. Following feedback from the public, the DFO plans to draw up a proposal and consult the public again. This is expected to happen between August and October.

To provide feedback, or to learn more about the DFO’s recovery strategy for killer whale populations, you can check online at http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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