Letter to the Editor – Chilliwack Progress

11 08 2007

The Chilliwack Progress, a small local newspaper in Chilliwack BC, published a story titled “Anglers Take on Ethics“.

The story is sorely lacking in true fact finding, or in depth coverage that is the hallmark of good journalism.  I sent a letter to the editor of the paper, as well as its author, Jennifer Feinberg, expressing my dismay with the tabloid style of poor journalism expressed in the article.  I  would have appreciated an acknowledgement at the least.  Well, even though THEY didn’t publish my letter to the editor, the nice thing about the modern media is that it isn’t concentrated in the power of the few.  Blogs allow us all to be our own editors and publishers and as such here is my letter to the editor of the Chilliwack Progress and Ms. Feinberg:

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I have just recently read your article “Anglers take on Ethics, August 7, 2007”
 
I’m not going to address your entire article, but I’d like to start by clearing up a few misconceptions:
 
“Concern in the local angling community…”
 
Should read “Concern among some in the local angling community” as a large number or local anglers are NOT concerned.
 
“…fishing practice known as flossing, snagging, or bottom bouncing.”
 
Should read “…fishing practice known as ‘flossing’ which is a variation on a technique called  ‘bottom bouncing’ and is often referred to by some as ‘snagging’
“…it’s considered unethical and unsportsmanlike…”
 
Should read “… the concerned groups considers it unethical or unsportsmanlike…” as, once again, many do not consider it to be unethical or unsportsmanlike.

I hope you can see where I’m going with this (and that I won’t need to continue any further).  There is a vocal portion of the fishing community that feel that this is wrong, even though FOC has not issued any violation orders in this regard during the numerous times that they have been at the sites of this “floss fishery”.  Ethics, of course, is an individual and communal issue, but fishing regulations, as posted are enforced by FOC for salmon and Provincial CO’s for other freshwater fish.  It is important that people are able to debate the merits of differing fishing techniques. There is a LONG running debate between the flyfishing community and the “gear” fishing community about ethics, as there is between the barbed and barbless hook users. It’s human nature.

 

The rules clearly say that any fish willfully or accidentally snagged must be released immediately. 

“Quite a few people know they’re snagging the fish. The regulations that say it’s against the law to snag or foul hook the fish, or attempt to do so, but (to enforce it) a fisheries officer would have to catch them in the act of killing the fish.”

The rules actually state:

http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/recfish/Law/restrictions_e.htm

It is illegal to: 

  • fish for finfish and/or shellfish without a licence.
  • catch and retain salmon if your licence does not have a valid salmon
    conservation stamp attached to it.
  • wilfully foul hook or attempt to foul hook any fish other than herring,
    northern anchovy, Pacific sand lance and squid.

So, we need a definition of “foul hook”.  Pleasantly the freshwater fishing regulations, put out by the province have that definition:

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/docs/fish-synopsis_2007-08_general.pdf

snagging (foul hooking)? hooking a fish in any other part of its body than the mouth. Attempting to snag fish of any species is prohibited. Any fish willfully or accidently snagged must be released immediately.
(emphasis mine)
 
The group within the recreational sector, of which you have chose to interview one individual, feels that even though 1) the rules ALLOW it, and  2) there is no action taken against individuals fishing in this manner while in the presence of FOC officers, that this style of fishing is illegal as quoted by you.  I don’t know if you gathered more information, but it certainly seems that were simply taking this one individual’s statement as fact – an incorrect fact.
 
This debate has torn many members of the fishing community apart and publishing a one sided opinion piece without gathering more evidence than talking to one fisherman is irresponsible journalism at best, helping to divide the recreational fishing sector (notice I didn’t use “sportfishing”) even further, and serving no purpose other than filling space in a newspaper.  On the positive side, at least now you’ll be able to go out some time and gather the REST of the opinions from a wider population of fishermen and fill more of that newspaper.
 
While I am not in your normal reader catchment (located in the Lower Mainland not the valley) I hope that you will take my concerns seriously and not lower to the standards of supermarket tabloids in an attempt to be shocking and gain attention.
 
p.s. while we’re at it – Would you please refrain from calling it “Sportfishing”, since the government classifies it as “Recreational fishing”.  If there’s a sport between a human and a fish (implying competion on an even ground), then we’re really lowering humans 😉
 
Sincerly,
 
Brian P. Hampson
 
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