“It’s crazy,” says Dan Gerak, the owner of the Pitt River Lodge, while explaining the Liberal government’s blanket ban on sport-fishing for salmon in the Fraser River. “Crazy” pretty much sums up the government’s attitude towards salmon fishing in the river.
When one looks at the darkening of the usually sparkling waters of the upper Pitt River due to spawning sockeye salmon, the ban really does seem like a rather pointless measure. This ban represents the government’s mindless efforts to preserve the environment and protect the planet without even considering the consequences of their actions. In this case, Dan Gerak’s story demonstrates how these measures aimed to prevent harming the environment are harming the economy instead.
The tale of the ban
Earlier this month, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) had restricted recreational fishers from fishing for all kinds of salmon on the river. This was in response to the report by Cohen Commission on the 2009 Fraser river sockeye run.
The report that took three years and cost $26 million had presented its 75 findings aimed at preserving the salmon. However, the fishermen don’t necessarily agree with the report which, according to them, does not take into account this year’s salmon run.
Hurting businesses to protect the environment?
“This river is plugged with salmon,” says Gerek. “We have the biggest runs we’ve probably seen in 10 years. They put in the closure and didn’t even come up to see what’s happening here. It seriously affects my business. They put on the closure for no reason.”
Others are extremely critical of the extent of the ban. One of those critics is Rod Clapton, the spokesman for Fraser River Sportfishing Alliance. Clapton says, “If you’ve got speeders on the freeway, are you going to shut down the whole freeway? We have a selective chinook fishery that we’ve demonstrated in the past has virtually no impact on sockeye stocks.”