Anglers ticketed during a demonstration fishery on the Fraser River in September are heading to court next month.
A GoFundMe page to pay their legal fees was launched by the Fraser Valley Salmon Society (FVSS) to support the Fraser River Sportfishing Alliance (FVSA), raising $17,8500 as of Nov. 20.
A court date for the anglers is set for Dec. 1, and some sportfishing advocates are considering attending the courthouse in support, possibly outside in a truck convoy with COVID protocols in place.
The demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020, saw more than 70 anglers heading out on Fraser River to bar-fish selectively to show they could avoid impacting any migrating stocks of concern. They were told by fishery officers they could be fined or have rods confiscated.
Six individuals were subsequently ticketed by for fishing on the Fraser during a closed time to salmon fishing.
“Those tickets were a catalyst to continuing our efforts to secure allocation and the opportunity to fish with a public fishery,” said Dean Werk, president of the salmon society. “We’re doing this for future generations.”
The demonstration went ahead despite federal officials turning down the groups’ request for approval for a “test” fishery opportunity on the Fraser River.
“We were trying to establish that we could fish selectively using a barbless hook and not impact migrating stocks of concern.”
Angling groups have been lobbying for years for restricted leader lengths to permit selective bar fishing but to no avail since DFO has not opted to enact any gear restrictions.
“We carefully considered all options and made the decision to put our time and effort toward a legal challenge,” according to the GoFundMe description. “This decision was not taken lightly.”
It was the consensus of the members that the legal route was the only viable option remaining as all negotiations with DFO had proven futile, they said.
“The lack of consideration to the public fishery is concerning, frustrating and unjustified. It’s time for action.”
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