Fed­eral whale-sav­ing ef­forts could threaten Van­cou­ver Is­land liveli­hoods

The Daily Courier - - CANADA -

ES­QUIMALT, B.C. — Sport fish­ing, tourism and busi­ness lead­ers from across Van­cou­ver Is­land say their liveli­hoods would be dam­aged by an ex­ten­sion of fed­eral fish­ing clo­sures to pro­tect en­dan­gered south­ern res­i­dent killer whales.

About two dozen lead­ers gath­ered to­day at a pop­u­lar sport fish­ing ma­rina near Vic­to­ria to warn the fed­eral gov­ern­ment al­most 10,000 jobs are at stake as well as the sur­vival of sev­eral small coastal com­mu­ni­ties that base their economies on recre­ational fish­ing and tourism.

B.C. Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Val Litwin says its mem­ber or­ga­ni­za­tions across the Is­land have formed a coali­tion called Thriv­ing Or­cas, Thriv­ing Com­mu­ni­ties to pro­tect their cities, towns and vil­lages.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has ex­tended a 5,000 square kilo­me­tre crit­i­cal habi­tat zone off the south­west coast of Van­cou­ver Is­land that could re­sult in fish­ing clo­sures to pro­tect the whales, whose pop­u­la­tion stands at 74.

Karl Ablack of the Port Ren­frew Cham­ber of Com­merce says recre­ational fish­ing gen­er­ates al­most $1 bil­lion for the B.C. econ­omy and em­ploys more than 8,400 peo­ple.

Ryan Cham­ber­land of the Sooke area cham­ber and a fish­ing lodge oper­a­tor says sport fish­ing clo­sures in Sooke-Port Ren­frew last year hurt busi­nesses and char­ter book­ings, which are down up to 80 per cent for this com­ing sea­son.

Litwin

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