Fed­eral whale-sav­ing ef­forts threaten Is­land liveli­hoods

Sur­vival of com­mu­ni­ties and 10,000 jobs at stake, ar­gue busi­ness lead­ers

StarMetro Vancouver - - CANADA & WORLD - Dirk Meiss­ner

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.

Read more about the is­sue at thes­tar.com/van­cou­ver

DIRK MEISS­NER/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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