News

Trial allows halibut anglers to buy more quota

Recreational anglers will be allowed to lease quota from commercial fishermen if they want to catch more halibut.

Tuesday's announcement by Fisheries Minister Gail Shea comes on the heels of coast-wide meetings held by recreational fishermen last month. They were lobbying for a greater allocation of the halibut catch, but the 88- to 12 per cent split between commercial licence holders and recreational anglers will remain the same.

"The current sharing formula…has been in place since 2003. Since then there have been a number of attempts by representatives of each sector to develop an acceptable way to transfer allocation between them," said Shea in a news release. "The most recent round of discussions took place throughout 2010. I'm disappointed to report that those discussions have reached an impasse and stakeholders have been unable to reach a consensus."

However, she has approved the quota transfer, an experiment that will be re-evaluated at the end of the year.

The extra quota could benefit fishing lodges and guides. For the regular angler though, the halibut season will begin March 1, and they will be entitled to catch one halibut per day and be in possession of two.

"Our government recognizes the value of the recreational fishery to British Columbians and the economic opportunities it provides," Shea said. "As for the future, clearly it is in the best interests of all sectors to come to a long-term solution that recognizes the important contribution each (sector) makes…"

Shea has asked her Parliamentary Secretary, Randy Kamp, MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, to work with Fisheries officials to develop options for consideration prior to the start of the 2012 season. These options need to meet the following objectives:

– Conservation of the resource through enhanced monitoring of the recreational fishery, thereby keeping all halibut fisheries accountable

for maintaining catches within the total allowable catch.

– Economic prosperity through predictable access for all users.

– Flexibility through an effective mechanism for transfers between the

sectors.

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