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BCWF Questions Why Public Access to Halibut Closed, While Private Harvest Continues

Vancouver, BC – So, you thought Canada’s fish resources were owned by the public. Not according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), says The BC Wildlife Federation.

On October 18 the public will be prohibited from retaining halibut for the rest of the year while private interests continue to harvest this species. Once again, the Harper government, through the actions of DFO, skewers coastal communities in BC by depriving them of economic opportunities from the recreational fishery. Why? Because, in contravention of the Fisheries Act, our federal government has gifted 88% of the total allowable catch quota of halibut to 327 private businessmen to dispose of as they choose.

“Over half of this commercial quota is not even being fished by the original quota recipients,” said Wayne Harling, a member of BCWF’s Tidal Water Fisheries Committee. “Instead, they lease ‘their’ quota annually for $2 -$3 per pound (in some cases, this amounts to more than $100,000) and  retire to warmer climates at the expense of the Canadian public. And that gift was permanent which means that their quota can be sold or passed on to relatives in perpetuity, even if the recipients never fish for halibut”.

“This gifting of halibut quota is just the tip of the iceberg”, said Paul Rickard, also a member of BCWF’s  Tidal Water Fisheries Committee .” Unless there is a public uproar over this give-away, of halibut, DFO intends to go the same route for all commercially-caught fish and shellfish on the Pacific coast. All Canadians who value our public fishery should contact Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea to voice their concern.”


For further information, please contact Patti MacAhonic, Executive Director, BCWF, at 604-291-9990 extension 230 or 604-308-1914.

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