Are children the new currency for recreation?
Current Family Fishing Lake Regulations:
“Age Restricted Waters”… you may fish in these waters only if you are less than 16 years of age (residents under 16 do not need a license to fish – see page 6), or are in possession of a valid Non-Tidal Angling License indicating either B.C. Senior or B.C. Disabled. Note: - from page 5 of the current 2011 – 2013 Fishing Regulations Synopsis.
Proposed Amendment to the “Age Restriction” regulations:
“Angling permitted for individuals in possession of a valid Non-Tidal Angling License indicating BC Disabled Angling for individuals over 16 years of age only when accompanied by youth under 16 years of age who is actively participating (angling). Individuals in possession of a valid Non-Tidal Angling License indicating BC Senior would only be able to angle on these waters when accompanied by a youth under 16 years of age who is actively participating”
“The waters that this regulation would apply to are all water bodies that currently have age restrictions.”
“Various other water bodies throughout the province may be considered for this regulation in the future.”
“The current regulation prohibits adults (including parents) from angling with youths under age 16 years of age. This has been cited as a deterrent for participating in age restricted waters. Under the proposed regulation anybody can angle on family fishing lakes provided they are accompanied by somebody under the age of 16.”
I respectfully suggest this proposed regulation is wrong-headed for several important reasons. My qualifications to comment on this proposal are based on fishing with children as a teacher, parent, grandparent, great grand parent and a life long interest in getting children into the outdoors for many activities, including fishing, hunting, and nature study. It is one thing for a family to go fishing, where part of the child’s time may be spent playing with frogs, worms, dolls, or reading while the rest of the family is engaged in the fishing activity. It is quite another thing for a family to go fishing where the participation of the child dictates when and where the family fishes.
Another facet of this proposal is the negative effect it would have on disabled anglers and seniors who live faraway from their grandchildren or have no grandchildren to take fishing. One of the legal implications of taking children on any activity that is away from the supervision of their legal parents is the paperwork which states you have the parents permission. I once went through a game check with my grandson Michael Farrell of Port Alice when the game warden insisted I produce paperwork to prove I had his parent’s permission to have my grandson hunting with me. The upshot was that they phoned long distance to talk to Michael’s parents to verify that I had their permission. You just can’t go out on the street and collect a child to allow you to go fishing in Family Fishing Waters. There are serious societal concerns when adults solicit children to be allowed to take part in an activity that has a wide range of ages participating in the activity. It is my view that it is morally wrong to use children as currency for entrance to a fishing facility as I believe this proposal encourages.
I vigorously support the concept of Family Fishing Waters and if the age restrictions are the problem why not abolish them and concentrate on improving Family Fishing Waters so that all members of the community can continue to participate in the wonderful experience of recreational fishing. Engage fish and game clubs and other service organizations to help in enhancing the facilities at these waters. Fishing stations, improved paths, toilets, picnic tables, park benches are just a few of the improvements that would help all participants to enjoy their fishing time. They can become centres of instruction on many of the simple skills of angling. If you find merit in my suggestions I urge you to let the Fish and Wildlife department know through contacting them at ittp://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/ahte/angling/family-fishing-regulations before December 31, 2012. Or cut the column out and send it to - The Synopsis, Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management Branch, Ministry of Natural Resource Operations, PO Box 9363 STN PROV GOVT, Victoria, B.C. V8W 9M2
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Have a wonderful and prosperous 2013, keep you tackle wet and powder dry.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.