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REPORTING · 10th February 2011
Walter McFarlane
Just how much allocation of a resource to the Commercial market is enough? This is the question being posed by the Kitimat Halibut Allocation Task Force. Already, they have held three meetings and have Kitimat City Council on Board.

“The main problem that I see here is DFO has allocated 88% of Halibut stocks to 436 license holders. How many actually own those licenses and who’s names are on them. The problem is, there are only 140 that are active but the remaining 12% is allocated to the recreation sector. The problem with this is we hit that 12% by October 18th in 2010 and it was closed to the recreation angler despite assurances when it was conceived in 2003 that there would be no in season closures. Out of the last three years, we’ve had two in season closures,” said Ron Wakita who was quickly named Chair at the first meeting.

Wakita explained the recreation angler will have to buy or lease allocation off of the 436 license holders to fish. “It’s not their resource to lease, sell or rent out to anybody, especially the majority of the Canadian population,” said Wakita.

The Task Force Set their purpose as: “For a direct Commercial Fishery for Halibut to occur the Recreation Angler must be first Allocated Sufficient Stocks to have Halibut Quota of 2 per day and 4 in possession from February 1st to December 31st.”

The goal of the Task Force is to get the message out to the recreational angler and get a letter writing campaign to send letters to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Prime Minister.

“The challenge is to get the word out to the majority of recreation anglers and to Canadians. Any Canadian should want their kids to fish for Halibut some day and any Canadian should be pissed off that a Canadian resource, 88% of it is allocated to 436 commercial operators and 12% to the rest of the population who are potentially recreation anglers,” said Wakita.

It was stated many of these commercial holders make their money by sitting at home and leasing out their licenses. In addition, because they exceeded the 12% in 2010, in 2011, the season could be closed as early as July. To make things worse, because people are afraid of the concentration, people could do their sport fishing earlier and have the quota met by June.

“We want a fair and equitable allocation policy that allows for a reasonable daily and possession limit for recreation anglers,” said Wakita. “[Recreation Anglers] should be the prioritized group.”

A town hall meeting has been called for Sunday, February 28th at 2 pm at the Rod and Gun Club.

Allen Smith from the Halibut Allocation Task Force took the stand at the Council Meeting on Monday, February 7th. He stated the Halibut season is still not open and asked the Council to write a two letters to the Prime Minister including a professional letter and a personal letter. He also asked them to contact other communities about this.

Wakita took the stand next. He encouraged everyone to write letters and encourage their friends and families to write letters to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Fisheries. He has also sent an invitation to the Prime Minister of Canada to be a part of the town hall meeting.

Council gave the Halibut Allocation Task Force $3000 of pre-budget approval. Goffinet also made a motion to send letters to the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans, supporting the Task Force request on the allocation policy and also to write inviting them to the town hall meeting. He also made a motion to write letters to other communities and organizations. These motions were called and carried.