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Bill C-297: Selective Fisheries Act

CHILLIWACK –Mark Strahl, Member of Parliament for Chilliwack—Hope has introduced a Private Members’ Bill that, if adopted, would provide more opportunities for selective fisheries in Chilliwack—Hope and across the country.

Bill C-297, the Selective Fisheries Act, would provide the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans with new tools to protect vulnerable wild fish stocks on the Fraser River, while at the same time allowing for selective fisheries targeting specific species of fish that have strong stocks.

The bill was seconded by Brad Vis, Member of Parliament for the neighbouring riding of Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon.

“Everyone agrees that vulnerable salmon stocks need to be protected and that conservation is the number one priority, but it is possible to protect certain species with low numbers and allow selective fisheries for plentiful species at the same time. My bill gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the power to do just that,” stated MP Strahl. “Every time the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans completely shuts down all recreational fisheries on the Fraser River to protect a specific species of vulnerable salmon, there is a significant negative impact on the local economy and anglers are deprived of the opportunity to put their lines in the water. This bill allows for greater flexibility which will create more opportunities for people to get out and exercise their right to fish for species that are healthy and can be specifically targeted using targeted fishing methods.”

The bill would amend the Fisheries Act to authorize the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to establish selective fishing programs to allow for the conservation of any species of fish that is at risk of overexploitation and to promote the fishing of species of which there are healthy stocks.

The bill would also give the Minister the authority to mandate the marking of current hatchery fish stock by means such as adipose fin clipping. Marking fish in this way allows fishers to target and retain hatchery raised fish within proscribed limits, while practicing catch and release with wild salmon.

“Hatchery fish continue to play an important role in maintain a healthy fishery and increasing the number of marked fish increases the opportunity for anglers to retain fish for their own use. This is something that recreational fishing groups have been demanding for a long time,” stated MP Strahl. “The Minister would be able to increase the number of hatchery fish that have their adipose fins clipped using the powers proposed in my bill.”

Conservation will remain a top priority with decisions based on the best scientific evidence in a manner designed to protect vulnerable wild stocks. Constitutionally protected Indigenous fisheries for food, social, and ceremonial purposes would maintain their priority and not be impacted by this bill.

“Local anglers are understandably frustrated whenever recreational fishing in the Fraser River is completely shut down, even as healthy stocks of salmon swim by,” concluded MP Strahl. “It’s time for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to be given the power to establish selective fisheries, to provide a fair and equitable path forward for recreational fishing. I’m calling on all Members of Parliament to support my Bill and support responsible selective fishing opportunities on the Fraser River and across Canada.”

Watch the video of MP Strahl introducing Bill C-297 on his Facebook Page here.

Read the full text of the Bill here.