Canadian sport fishing suffering

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2002

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- Canada's multibillion-dollar sports fishery is collapsing so rapidly it may suffer the same fate as commercial cod on the East Coast and salmon in the West, a group of scientists has warned.

According to a report in the Journal of Fisheries Management, virtually all recreational fishery stocks are depressed in rivers and lakes within a three- or four-hour drive of urban centers.

''That includes a lot of territory,'' says John Post, a University of Calgary scientist and lead author. ''The bottom line, however, is that there are just too many people with modern technology taking too many fish out of our lakes and streams.''

The report says the situation is worst in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. Fishery managers may have to use lotteries or draws to reduce the numbers of anglers, Post said.

The scientists suggest that with dozens of trout, walleye and pike populations in a state of collapse and some perch populations in decline, Alberta has especially severe problems. Of the 27 walleye populations for which there is data, 21 have collapsed in recent years.

Post, who has documented similar declines of rainbow trout in British Columbia, says the collapses have gone largely unnoticed because most recreational fisheries tend to be small and few anglers are affected.

In addition, the declines are often masked by fish stocking and other management efforts, he said.

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