Monday, 10 July 2017

World Recreational Fishing Conference

A conference is coming up July 16 – 20 in Victoria: World Recreational Fishing Conference – 8. You may want to go. Learn more on the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFS) website: Everything to do with the science of sport fishing can be had at the four-day meeting, held every several years around the world. More than one hundred papers will be presented over the four days.

Here is what the FFS says: 

“The 8th World Recreational Fishing Conference is returning to Canada for 2017. The conference unites the global recreational fishing community - providing an essential forum to discuss current research. Held every three years, this is the only international conference focused solely on recreational fisheries. The host organization for the 2017 conference is the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, in cooperation with the Sport Fishing Institute of BC.”

There are three symposia sessions and eight other sessions, each of which may have as many as 20 presenters. The Poster display is worth taking in as there are 38 to view, on subjects ranging from the length of time out of water related to fish survival of released fish to Atlantic salmon conservation for anglers, to billfish fishing in the tropics, to the Sport Fishing Advisory Board in BC. 

Presenters are from all over the world, covering fishing issues from Australia to Russia. One subject of interest to me, is the Gene Banking of Sperm, something I think is vital to retaining the genetic diversity of the 9652 different strains of salmon in BC, and easier with sperm than the much larger eggs. The poster PDF can be downloaded at:

There are far more presentations than there is time for, so I zeroed in on subjects of interest to me. Among them are the following:

Session 2: Citizen Science and Recreational Fisheries is your session to learn more about taking part in BC science by taking readings while you are out fishing. You can find out more at: Brian Riddell, President and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) is the chair for this session, and, of course the PSF does have anglers on the water taking readings. 

The Sport Fishing Institute has an app that allows for real time uploading of angler information that allows DFO to make adjustments that get to anglers and commercial fishers in quicker order than other approaches.

Session 3: Reconciling Stocking, Management and Conservation has several items of interest. This session explores different applications of fish stocking to support recreational fisheries for both marine and freshwater situations around the world. Fisheries can be established and protected but at the same time effects on existing species and strains of fish result, including genetic ones.

Session 4: Management Strategies, Policy Development and Governance is the one that most interests me, with more than 20 talks scheduled. In Alberta, for instance, fisheries are structured differently from BC:

E7: Alberta Conservation Association: A Case Study of an Alternative Model for Fisheries Conservation and Management Activities.

As a Delegated Administrative Organization under the Alberta Wildlife Act, Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) is in a unique position to function both as an arms-length research organization of provincial government, and a not-for-profit conservation organization. Led by a Governance Board consisting of members of major conservation groups within the province and a single government representative, ACA receives direction from both public stakeholder groups and the provincial government. The governance structure, funding model and mandate of ACA makes it relatively unique in Canada and as such provides an interesting case study on the pros and cons of undertaking fisheries conservation and management activities in close relationship with, but separate from, government biologists and policy makers.”

And in Denmark, they have tried another alternative: E10: Resurging the Atlantic Salmon Stocks in Denmark Through Adaptive Management.” They have focussed on habitat restoration, something I think does not receive enough funding in BC, and requires change of The Fisheries Act, particularly the HADD (harmful alteration, disruption and destruction of fish habitat) provisions. The Harper Conservatives got rid of it to favour business, and the current DFO Ottawa brass is on record as saying they don’t want to go back to the previous status. BC expects better than this.

Most of us know Gerry Kristianson, long time PSC and SFAB participant. He speaks in session E15. Here is what he says:

“It is important that advocates of recreational fishing, public servants charged with fisheries management, and scientists and other experts who provide objective advice, all understand the nature and dimensions of fisheries politics. Accusing someone of “playing politics” is usually intended as a criticism, even an insult. But the phrase should be considered from a different perspective. Politics is the social process by which differences are expressed and resolved. If you don’t have differences, then you don’t have politics. A political situation, whether it is in a family, the workplace, government administration or a contest for public office is the process through which differences are discussed and settled. Fisheries politics takes place at a number of different levels. At the domestic level it determines the resources available to manage fisheries and understand their impacts. It defines the relationship between conservation and extraction. It determines the allocation of harvest between competing interests. At the international level it sets the rules between nations for the conservation and sharing of migratory and straddling stocks. Underlying all of these political relationships are rules and norms of political behavior that need to be learned and practiced by those who wish to maximize their influence over how fisheries are managed and practised.”

Session 5 is: Engagement of Fishers in the Management Process. Here is one on the difficulty of taking sport fishing data and making sense of it because anglers don’t value the same things: “C8: Maximum Experiential Yield – A New MEY Paradigm for Recreational Fisheries.” It examines the issue of science destroying fisheries.

Session 6: Social and Economic Values of Recreational Fisheries. For people like me - committed stats junkies - this one gives global stats on sport fishing participation, value and trade offs. The upside is global data, for example: “G2 Recreational Sea Angling and its Significance to the English Economy.”

Here are some useful stats: “We show that recreational sea angling supported just over £2bn of output and almost 24,000 jobs in England.” And there are stats for other countries that also can be used for comparison purposes across nations.

The downside is how differently the stats are put together in each country and whether they match up with methods used elsewhere. Let me give you an example. In Canada, I have the every-five-years series of recreational fishing stats put out by Stats Canada since 1975. 

Here is the problem: Stats from different sources aren’t the same. The BC Stats report, which starts with Stats Can data, says that the ‘fishing sectors’, sport/commercial/processing, contributes vastly more than aquaculture to the province’s Gross Domestic Product. That report has a 20-page section on caveats to using Stats Can data. Thus the numbers are vastly different from DFO.

“The financial numbers were derived from several reports. We normally say it is a billion for angling, but when I looked deeper into the reports, and accounted for processing and commercial, updated for inflation, found separate figures for fresh and salt angling, the figure came in much higher. Note that my purpose was saying what the total value of salmon/fishing is to BC, not simply sport revenue.”
You can go through my calculation at the above link. It came in at $2.52 billion, including all freshwater angling revenue, not simply salmon, updated for inflation. If the Strait of Georgia PSF project delivers, you can add $200 million more, and that is their conservative figure."

By all means, go to the conference. If not, the pinks are in, and most anyone can catch many salmon for dinner and enjoy the stats: a run of 13.3 million.

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