Ten years after its implementation, the classified waters system is up for review. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) is forming a committee to help shape fisheries policy in the East Kootenay.
The Province is forming angling review committee, to be comprised of local anglers, angling guides, sport fishery organizations, and other interested parties in the East Kootenay.
Kevin Heidt, with FLNRO in Cranbrook, said the existing angling management plans are now 10 years old, and the ministry is reviewing the performance of the plans, and soliciting ideas for ways they can be improved.
“In 2004, due to concerns of increasing fishing pressure and degradation to angling quality, multiple groups — including government, angling guides and local anglers — entered into an angling management plan,” Heidt said.
“Previously we didn’t have any official angling management plans in place in the region.”
A committee was then struck of angling guides, resident anglers, and government. Heidt said a number of recommendations came out of that committee, some of which were implemented. The ones that were implemented were the actual angling management plans for seven classified water systems.
These systems include the Wigwam River, Elk River, Bull River, St. Mary River, Skookumchuck Creek, White River and Upper Kootenay River.
“That’s where the majority of angling pressure was occurring,” Heidt said. “They are also prime bull trout and cuthroat trout fisheries.”
Those seven watersheds were given allocations of days, based on different user groups. Heidt said the agreement at the time was that there would be no formal cap for resident anglers. Angling guides received a certain allotment of days for each system. Non-residents as well were given a cap of allocated days.
“Following that there had to be a legal implementation of those plans — one of the systems in place was to make those classified waters,” Heidt said. “That occurred officially in 2005. That was the first season.”
Heidt said the Kootenay AMP Review Committee will be composed of multiple stakeholders representing various interests on the seven classified waters — angling guides, resident anglers, the BCWF, etc. The committee will conduct a 10-year performance review of both AMP and classified waters systems in the Kootenay Region and make recommendations to FLNRO’s Fish and Wildlife branch on future management of these seven watersheds.
The committee will meet and review the status and performance of angling management plans (AMPs) — the pros and cons, and make recommendations to the ministry on regional AMP options and future classified waters management for implementation planned for 2015.
For more information, and to apply to be a member of the committee contact Kevin Heidt at the ministry regional office in Cranbrook 250-489-8540 or by email at: Kevin.Heidt@gov.bc.ca