FRSFA co-chair Fred Helmer says the May 30 town hall meeting at Evergreen Hall might be a wakeup call for sport fishers on the future of the fishery. (Dan Ferguson/ Black Press file)

Town Hall meeting in Chilliwack a call to action for Fraser River sport fishers

‘All user groups need to come together on this and that’s not always easy to do,’ says FRSFA co-chair

A town hall meeting May 30 in Chilliwack is aimed at shifting the current Fraser River sport fishers are swimming in.

“We want to wake them up so they can start demanding a better future for everyone,” said Fred Helmer, co-chair of the Fraser River Sportfishing Alliance, and a tackle shop entrepreneur.

There’s a been a big decline in returning fish runs on the Fraser over the decades, but Helmer said it’s been even worse in recent years.

“It’s been accentuated. Maybe it’s a cycle thing. Or the reality is it’s going to hell in a handbasket.”

The Fraser River Sportfishing Alliance was formed a few years ago because of growing concerns in the angling community about the ongoing reduction of fish and fishing opportunities in the Fraser fishery.

“I think everyone is finally getting a reality check. We are in serious to critical condition on some runs, and all sectors are starting to realize it is not looking good.”

The sportfishing sector tends to be disorganized politically, and a representative voice of reason is needed in the mix. It’s going to take a “positive” perspective to bring to the table that does not place blame on First Nations fisheries.

The sport fishing industry is estimated to generate $100 million a year in spinoffs in Fraser River communities.

“We need a calm and collected voice. We decided as a group to quit complaining all the time and change the direction of how our fisheries are going,” Helmer said.

Conservation is and should be paramount, and any opportunities to fish are meted out after that principle is covered.

“The general public needs to know what is going on. All user groups need to come together on this and that’s not always easy to do.”

Fraser River Sport Fishing Alliance Town Hall Meeting is May 30, 7 p.m, Evergreen Hall. See more fraseralliance.com. The FRSFA is a coalition of guides, anglers and industry reps.


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jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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