There has been much discussion regarding the 2012 change to government’s halibut allocation policy and addressing ways to strive for certainty and stability. While we don’t want to revisit those issues here, we do want to offer some thoughts on an aspect of the decision that has received less attention.
As part of the policy announcement, DFO said that it plans to make the experimental pilot program for halibut leasing a permanent fixture of the recreational fishery. This program has been a failure, with few participants, few fish recorded and with widespread acknowledgement from the department that it lacks the staff and resources to police or effectively monitor the program in any meaningful way.
We believe that the program is unnecessary and divisive. It attempts to create user-group distinctions within the recreational fishery where none exist. The recreational quota leasing program is inappropriate as it turns recreational fishing into a quazi-commercial harvesting activity; it seeks to create different classes of recreational anglers when all recreational anglers ought to have equal access to a Canadian public resource; it unjustly enriches a small number of commercial quota holders; and, it simply distracts anglers from government’s principal error which was granting private property rights to a Canadian public resource.
Ultimately we remain firm in our belief that a fixed number allocation system or some method to permit the entire recreational sector to acquire certain and stable access to halibut for a full and predictable season should be employed.
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