‘It would really hurt this town’: B.C. fishing community pleads with Ottawa to reconsider whale protection plan

‘It would really hurt this town’: B.C. fishing community pleads with Ottawa to reconsider whale protection plan
“We need an injection of funds into our hatcheries, our creek restoration, our monitoring, our enforcement. That needs to be done right away,” said Kemps.

“The focus now is going to be which hatcheries and where, which is going to be most impactful for the southern resident killer whale.”

The minister said designating more zones as critical habitat areas doesn’t automatically mean a ban on sport fishing will come, too — it’s all part of the consultation process. That process closed on Nov. 3 and Ottawa now has 30 days to make a decision.

“We’re certainly concerned about the impacts, the local economic impacts. It’s really important that we hear from communities, and we can try to think about creative ways that we can address some of those concerns while we’re also protecting the whales,” said Wilkinson, adding that he has a legal requirement to protect them under the Species at Risk Act.

In the waters off Ucluelet’s harbour, a colony of sea lions bark on the dock behind a fishing boat.

While he said he’s met with people from Ucluelet and will continue to do so, and he encourages them to submit their ideas, those in the small town feel they aren’t being heard.

“The consultation they gave us was 60 seconds, with a microphone which they held, you couldn’t hold your own microphone,” said O’Brien.

“I didn’t speak, I just kind of sat there going, ‘What is happening?’”
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