Federal whale-saving efforts threaten Island livelihoods
Survival of communities and 10,000 jobs at stake, argue business leaders
ESQUIMALT, B.c.—federal government efforts to save threatened southern resident killer whales could endanger the survival of communities on Vancouver Island whose economies depend on sport fishing and tourism revenues, a coalition of tourism, business and recreational fishing groups said Thursday.
Two dozen leaders gathered at a popular sport fishing marina near Victoria to warn Ottawa that almost 10,000 jobs are at stake as well as the futures of several cities, towns and villages on the Island that base their incomes on fishing and tourism.
The coalition calls itself Thriving Orcas, Thriving Communities and said the federal government has extended a 5,000 square kilometre critical habitat zone off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island that could result British Columbia Chamber of Commerce president Val Litwin says extended federal fishing closures to protect the threatened southern resident killer whales puts tourism and sport fishing industries at risk.
in fishing closures to protect the whales, whose population stands at 74.
Val Litwin, president of the
B.C. Chamber of Commerce, said 18 communities have united to form the coalition.
Karl Ablack, of the Port
Renfrew Chamber of Commerce, said: “It will, without question, economically devastate our community as well
as other coastal communities on Vancouver Island.”
Ryan Chamberland, a fishing lodge operator in the Sooke area, said sport fishing closures last year in his region near Victoria hurt businesses and fishing operators.
He said charter bookings for the coming season are already down up to 80 per cent.
“The people who operate regularly in these areas know that there’s room for both of us in our coastal waters,” he added.
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