Well it's the middle of January and we're still waiting. We told you in our last update that several SFI representatives had been told in the weeks leading up to Christmas that we could expect a formal decision and announcement from Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield and his Parliamentary Secretary Randy Kamp on the 2012 halibut fishery by the end of the year. Sadly, the end of the year has come and gone and we have no idea when to expect any news. www.sportfishing.bc.ca
We're working the phones and talking to our contacts to try to find out what is going on. This week Vancouver Island MLA John Horgan and Vancouver Island MP Randall Garrison wrote Ashfield urging him to make a good decision and make it soon so that sport fishing businesses can get on with planning and selling trips.
Our colleagues at the BC Wildlife Federation have been telling government that they believe that there are solutions to the sharing of halibut while maintaining the quota system within the commercial sector. Like the SFI, the BCWF supports a recreational halibut season from February to December with a catch of 2 per day and a possession limit of three. The BCWF believes that the recreational fishery should be allocated sufficient halibut in lbs/kg to support this season and the remainder goes to the commercial fishery.
We shouldn't forget that last spring, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Vancouver Island residents that "Our government recognizes the importance of the halibut fishery in BC. The jobs and regional economic impact of the commercial, recreational and related tourism in BC are substantial. We remain committed to finding a solution to BC's halibut allocation issue in advance of the 2012 season that strikes a fair balance between all sectors." We expect him to keep his commitment.
We will continue to press government for an early, positive decision. We encourage everybody in the sport fishing sector, to call their local MP or MLA and ask them to do the same.
We'll keep you posted through as-it-happens updates or by posting on the SFI website. www.sportfishing.bc.ca