July 8, 2018
VICTORIA — An invitation from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to discuss ocean areas that might be critical for killer whales has outraged community leaders from southwest Vancouver Island.
Prompted by Mike Hicks, Capital Regional District director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, community politicians, ocean anglers and chambers of commerce from Sooke to Tofino are objecting to the possibility of closing two ocean zones to sport fishing: Swiftsure and La Perouse banks. Such a closure, they say, would devastate the small towns that rely on sport fishing to attract tourists.
“Their (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) track record is they will consult and they close,” said Hicks. “And when it’s closed, it’s closed forever.”
But the uproar has startled officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who say they just want to start talking about the areas recently identified by scientists as important feeding areas for southern resident killer whales.
“All we are doing is providing a kind of advanced ‘heads up,’ ” said Neil Davis, director of resource management. “There are no additional measures like closure that are being proposed at this time.”
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