Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sometimes a Great Notion

Last year Tom Cole gave me a disk of Victoria area sport fishing history going back to the 1950s. One big file has the 50 year history of the Sport Fish Advisory Board as a Powerpoint presentation along with a lot of historical images of our sport; the other big file is text documents stretching over the horizon, including Alec Merriman columns from the 1960s, and so on.

Since I came to be the keeper of the Ring, I pondered, Frodo-Baggins-like, what to do with it. And I had an interest in seeing the history of the Saanich Inlet fishing being brought together as an e-book before we lose the people who made the history, or those who knew those who made the history. Of course, it was far more work for me to do than I anticipated.

And the CD languished in the piles I keep in lieu of proper filing cabinet stuff.  It has only taken me almost two years to have a bolt-of-lightning moment (and refind the CD among the heaps and ruins of good intentions). It dawned on me today that putting up a blog, which can be done for free on Google, and then slowly filling it with the information I have and hope to receive from everyone, so everyone can go take a read.

I’ll put up a ‘’ blog and everything I receive can go there, along with an index, so available instantly when stuff comes my way, and all Tom Coles stuff can be put up there, too. Images include a young Bob Wright with a ‘busty’ award from Western Speedway, an equally young Bing Crosby and the never-forgotten-once-you-met-him, crusty, vituperative, bites-like-a-Pitbull Bill Otway and etc. The history of the SFAB from its inception is worthy of being preserved for everyone interested in such things. If anyone has a good name, let me know.

And, for God’s sake, if anyone knows how to change a photo of a text document into a text document that can be copied and pasted, please let me know. I had to print a ‘photo’ and then enter it all by hand, rather than copy and paste.

Here is an interesting, historical, 1981 letter to the then DFO Minister, Romeo Leblanc (using the writer’s various text methods):


The Honourable Romeo LEBLANC
Minister of Fisheries & Oceans
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario.

Re: Sportfishing Restrictions announced by C. WAYNE SHINNERS – 11 February, 1981

Dear Mr. Minister:

            This Association is comprised of 546 active members in our current membership year, which is the approximate average for the last 25 years.  The membership is comprised of persons having two common basic similarities and they are:

(1)   A direct association with the Canadian Armed Forces, and
(2)   An interest in Sportfishing.

We believe that as CANADIANS  we have “paid our dues” and our loyalty is beyond question. You can take your united word for it, that sportfishing restriction as announced are unworthy and basically dishonest. These observation are made as a straight-forward assessment back by a great deal of history and practical knowledge.

            In 1963 this club wrote to the then area Director Me. W.R., (Rod) HOURSTON and expressed our concern over the declining stocks – which we attributed to the Juan de Fuca gauntlet net fishery. We received rebuke for our expression of concern.

            In 1964 as a member/club of the Amalgamated Conservation Society, we were party to a brief presented  to J. Angus McLEAN, the then Fisheries Minister, again expressing our concern over declining stocks and our belief that the Juan de Fuca gauntlet net fishery was the main contributor to the decline of the hook and line fishery.  To show our sincerity we voluntarily recommended a cut in our daily bag limit down to four salmon per day.  The Department gladly accepted our voluntary limit cut but continued on the path of fostering the net fishery and actively assisted in the increase of the Seine fleet.

            In 1967, with our sportfishing success still on the decline and again in conjunction with the Amalgamated Conservation Society, we protested so effectively as to finally obtain a public meeting in Victoria with Dr. NEEDLER,  the then Deputy Minister of Fisheries.  He conceded that the gauntlet net fishery did in fact impact on the Victoria-Sooke water front fishery.  His solution was to implement a sportfishing reserve in the easterly portion of Area 20.  We expressed out considerable doubt that this was the solution to our problem, and we have been proven right – it was not the answer.  Along about the same time we had commenced advocacy of salmon enhancement, and one of the tools we proposed was fish hatcheries.  We were told by the Department that salmon could not be effectively produced in hatcheries.  How wrong could they be?

            Under the same Dr. NEEDLER, statements were made regarding herring, one being that herring could be fished in every known fashion and because their numbers were so large and they were so prolific, the herring could never be fished out. We hasten to call your recollection  to the complete closure of the herring net fishery that was required to afford the recovery of the stocks. Another Department gem was that herring was not a major part of the Salmon’s diet.

            As proof that we were not insincere about our concern over declining stocks, we commenced voluntary work assisting fish guardians in stream work and fry salvage.  As early as the 1960’s we commenced ground works and negotiation to be allowed to enhance salmonids in
The Goldstream River.  Ever since the Amalgamated Conservation society has had an approved Salmonid Enhancement Program on the Goldstream, the R.C.N. Anglers’ Association members have actively and physically participated in the program which predates S.E.P by two years.

            You may wonder, Mr. Minister, why the foregoing history lesson; well, we simply wish once and for all to establish our credibility and to point out how the Fisheries Department alienated us as a user group through their insistence on being wrong.  The drastic restrictions imposed on the sport fishery is again a demonstration of this propensity for being wrong.

            We insist that a major influence on chinook escapement is the incidental catch of chinooks in the gauntlet seine fishery in Johnstone and Juan de Fuca Straits, just as it was 20 years ago.  The Department still fails to recognize this fact; this fishery takes place so far from the rivers of origin that stock management is impossible.

The effect of the gauntlet net fishery was recognized by a former Minister of Fisheries, The Honourable Jack DAVIS.  In a meeting with sportsfishermen in Victoria’s Empress Hotel when he was still Minister, he actively advocated the return of the net fishery to the river mouths, as a cleanup fishery where a finite stock management would be possible – he had our agreement in this policy even though it had little support by members of the Fisheries Department.

            These regulation changes have “reached in” and changed our our  quality of life; some measure of the importance of these regulations to our life style can be taken from the observation that it was the very first item of news on the front page of the TIMES-COLONIST  News paper of 12 Februarry 1981,  and was the lead story on CHEK Television News on 11 February 1981.  It is a topic of conversation throughout the whole city and disbelief and indignation are the emotions being expressed. With the Department’s past track record for making the wrong decision to resolve problems, you can hardly wonder at our lack of faith in them.

            If these regulations are implemented, which will result in the mostly innocent sportsfisherman being punished,  and if the gauntlet net continues the wild chinook stocks will NEVER recover – mark our words…  The name of LEBLANC and the Liberal government will never be forgotten by many thousands of Westcoast residents who have lost a jewel out of the joy of living.  Shame, Mr. Minister, shame!  Bloody shame!  You can, and must, do better than this.

                                                                                    Yours truly,

Mr. Alan McKinnon,  M.P.                             The Honourable Stephen Rogers
(Victoria, - Oak Bay)                                      Minister of the Environment B.C.
House of Commons                                        Parliament Buildings
Ottawa,  Ont.                                                  Victoria,  B.C.

Mr. Donald Munroe,  M.P.                             The Honourable Pat Jordan
(Esquimalt Saanich)                                        Minister of Tourism
House of Commons                                        Parliament Buildings
Ottawa,  Ont.                                                  Victoria,  B.C.

Mr. Ed Broadbent,  M.P.                                Mr.  Dave Barrett, MLA
House of Commons                                        Leaders of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition
Ottawa,  Ontario                                             Parliament Buildings

                                                                        Victoria,  B.C. 

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