In February, Minister Shea announced the details of the 2011 halibut fishery.
This decision follows the current policy developed by the Liberal Government in 2003 which capped the recreational harvest at 12 per cent until both parties could “develop an acceptable mechanism that will allow for adjustment of the recreational share through acquisition of additional quota from the commercial sector.”
Although Minister Shea and former Minister Hearn made it a high priority to facilitate talks between the sectors, no viable long-term transfer mechanism has been found to date.
Because no other market-based transfer mechanism is in place, for 2011 Minister Shea is making available an experimental licence that enables interested recreational stakeholders to lease quota from commercial harvesters, allowing the recreational angler to fish beyond the limits of one per day, two in possession.
It’s completely optional, but some recreational interests, such as lodge operators, may find that the new licence will provide the predictability of access they need to run their businesses profitably.
But there was an important element of the announcement that those who are politicizing the issue appear to have missed.
Minister Shea clearly indicated that the arrangement for 2011 should not be viewed as the permanent solution for the halibut fishery.
In fact, she has asked me to work with her officials and all stakeholders to develop options for future seasons that meet the objectives of conservation, economic prosperity and flexibility.
British Columbians need to know that the decision to keep working on a permanent solution was due, in large part, to the input from Conservative MPs who understand the value and significance of the Pacific halibut fishery to our province.
As we begin this process no options are off the table, including those that have been advanced by both the recreational and commercial sectors, but I’m confident that as we direct our energies in a positive, collaborative way to the task at hand we’ll also have some new approaches to consider.
Most would agree that it’s in the best interests of all sectors to reach a long term solution towards a viable future for this fishery.
Randy Kamp, MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans