Lakeland Mayor and Reeves are hoping the restrictions surrounding sportfishing in Alberta’s lakes and rivers will be lightened.
Spearheaded by Lac La Biche town council, Cold Lake, Bonnyville, M.D. of Bonnyville, St. Paul, and others will meet to discuss how the increasing restrictions against keeping fish are deterring people from staying in the province.
The UCP are working on changes, said MLA David Hanson, who questioned Minister of Parks Jason Nixon in the Legislature about walleye catch.
He cited figures that said over 35,000 Albertans bought fishing licenses in Saskatchewan in the past from 2015 to 2018, the spot of choice where fishers can keep some of the catch, driving roughly $1.5 million in tourism dollars out of the province.
He says he hears a lot of frustration from sport fishers about the discrepancy in regulations from province to province.
“We lost a substantial amount of revenue provincially because people aren’t even bothering to buy a license anymore because you can’t keep a fish,” he said.
“So they would rather go and spend the money buying licenses in Saskatchewan,” said Hanson earlier this week.
“It’s very frustrating.”
However, Hanson is reassured by Nixon’s willingness to lessen restrictions on the lakes, saying that changes could come by next year.
The reasoning behind them is to protect the various populations of walleye, trout, and perch in Alberta lakes.
But the measures don’t wash in Hanson’s view
“The biologists claim that their science is showing that the lakes are collapsed…we’re the only province that uses such a restrictive testing method,” said Hanson.
“Most the the testing methods that we use, in most other jurisdictions, the data that we’re providing, would not say that the lake is collapsed.”
‘Almost a crime’
M.D. Reeve Greg Sawchuk said the regulations don’t make sense on The Morning After.
“With having all these lakes here, I would say it’s almost a crime that we can’t have people out there sportfishing and there’s lots of research as well on this whole catch and release program that maybe we’re doing more harm to the industry than good,” he said.
“I know that Mayor Omer [Moghrabi] has been in touch with the Minister, but he wants a little bit more support behind him and we’re there to give it for sure.”
Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland says the city will also be vocal.
“The concern is that more and more tourists, more and more boaters, fishermen, are leaving our area and going to Saskatchewan in order to be able to enjoy a fish meal,” said Copeland.
Mayors and Reeves will set a date soon for the meeting.