Province hopes soaring sales of fishing licences will bring interest in fishery management

·2 min read

Resident sport-fishing licence sales soared by 30 per cent in 2020 over 2019 and Alberta Fish and Wildlife is hoping that will translate into more interest in how the province is managing its fish populations.

"We are seeing more and more people fishing this year; more outdoor participating and therefore maybe more engagement in our sessions," says Kayedon Wilcox, regional fisheries manager for Alberta Environment and Parks.

Every year Alberta Fish and Wildlife hosts public meetings to review sport-fishing regulations, but this year the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the sessions online.

While they are hoping for more participants, organizers know drawing anglers will be difficult.

"We are trying to pull viewership from Netflix, Crave and have the hockey fans tune in to the evenings a little bit," Wilcox said Thursday in an interview on CBC's Edmonton AM.

So far the webinars have been a success, he said.

In the three of seven webinars held so far, about 1,000 participants attended. Last year, the total attendance at 14 public meetings was 1,300.

That success has the province thinking about continuing online sessions once the pandemic ends.

"I think I still see, and our staff appreciates, the ability of in-person discussions with stakeholders," Wilcox said. "That certainly won't go away, we also will see if there are members of the angler community who prefer the webinar method."

One of the issues this year is a review of the 15-year-old walleye tag program.

The program is used for certain bodies of water that cannot sustain open harvest.

"In those cases, we do have a limited harvest tool where we provide a finite number of tags out and within that, a tag-owner can harvest anywhere between two or three walleye," Wilcox said.

He said they have heard from people wanting improvement on the tags themselves.

The province issues new fishing regulations for April 1 every year.