If you are interested in sport fishing on the BC Coast or Vancouver Island, by now you’ve likely heard that DFO has given a deadline of March 1st, 2019 to respond in the form of a personal letter to their Feb 5th, 2019 document of Management Efforts for the Upcoming Season. One of these actions includes the closure of Chinook sport fishing (Option A) for the 2019 season (see PG 7 of this document). Have you written your letter yet?
When it comes to writing a letter, some people may not be sure of what to say. And while it would be easy to sign a ‘template’ letter or a petition, those are often not even acknowledged. If you cruise social media, there’s no shortage of opinion about the DFO and management practices, but when it comes to the important actions the sports fishing community can do, it’s fair to say that we are not the most organized group. Perhaps that’s why propositions are quickly passed—there’s little resistance in an effective manner. (Do you recall the closure in Port Renfrew/Sooke)? The DFO has asked for letters. If you haven’t written one yet, do you know what yours will, or even should say?
This is where the Sport Fishing Institute (SFI) has come in handy for leadership. In a recent email thread between some of the leaders of the sport fishing industry on Vancouver Island, the SFI made these following observations and specific recommendations of how to write the letter.
Over the weekend, a tidal wave of letters has been hitting the inboxes of the regional salmon manager and the DFO team, and it is making a difference. [We] believe we need to keep those letters coming until we have confirmation that Option A is off the table, and that some form of reasonable expectation and opportunity for Chinook will be provided to anglers and the businesses and communities that depend on them.
What has made this feedback campaign very powerful is that it’s organic in nature. There has been no major push or organization provided by any one group, it has been an effort that has come directly from those citizens who have a stake in the fishery, and whose towns and communities depend on it. The DFO Salmon coordinator said as much as the SFAB meeting over the weekend noting that he and the team had received “hundreds and possibly thousands of letters,” and that “none of them appear to be form letters”.
Based on the shift we are seeing in DFO’s approach to the options as a result of this powerful effort, we need to stick with the organic nature of the letter writing and avoid providing templates or form letter to people as they carry much less weight. In order to do this, here’s what people who are going write letters should consider:
Start out describing your connection and history with the fishery. Are you a business? Local angler? Is fishing part of your family traditions? Do your children enjoy fishing? Do you fish for food?
How does angling activity impact your life and the life of your family?
If you are a business, how many people do you employ? How long have you been active in the community? How dependant are you on fishing?
What will the impact of option A be on the above? Don’t be afraid to use powerful words, but never resort to foul language.
Don’t recommend option B. Focus on the impact of option A. By choosing option B you limit our ability to improve on it. This will be important for anglers in Juan de Fuca and Georgia Strait.
Keep it simple and stick to what you know. Leave the fishery management details and science to others who deal with these things all the time.
You don’t need more than one page.
Talk to your friends and associates and get them to send letters!