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What Does The SFI Do?

Posted on May 16th 2014, by Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia

Saltwater fishing in British Columbia

From time to time we, at the Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia, are asked "What does the SFI do"? We explain the more than three decades of work on behalf of the sport fishing industry and outline some of the many issues we've tackled and battles we've fought. And, while we update you on the individual issues that we are working on or tracking, we seldom provide an overview of our broader mandate.

In the simplest terms, the SFI is an industry association that advocates on behalf of its members. But what exactly does that mean?

Well, we are governed by a board of directors, a group of industry leaders and volunteers who dedicate their time (and their money) to help guide our organization. Our directors usually meet 4 or 5 times each year to discuss the key issues facing the sport fishery. Issues ranging from access, allocation policy changes, conservation measures, work with First Nations, fisheries planning processes and licencing. There are more issues than this but these seem to dominate most of our time. The board also works to help coordinate the interaction between the SFI and the Sport Fishing Advisory Board. Not surprisingly there is considerable interaction and membership overlap between these two bodies, but while the SFAB has a mandate to advise government on fisheries policy issues, the SFI has a mandate to lobby government on fisheries policies. To that end, we often find ourselves working with organizations like the BC Wildlife Federation which has a similar mandate, but conducts its activities on behalf of individual angler members rather than business members.

That lobbying and advocacy work takes many forms. At its simplest, it consists of ensuring that SFI staff, directors or volunteers are able to attend the many planning and policy meetings held by DFO, Transport Canada and other government agencies to ensure that the sport fishing industry's views are heard and considered before policy decisions are made. We make written submissions to many other processes ranging from marine planning to vessel licensing and we mount annual lobbying missions to Ottawa where staff and directors meet one-on-one with federal MP's, senior civil servants and political staff and the Fisheries Minister.

We also work with provincial and federal agencies to help improve and promote sport fishing. For example, we are working to develop a Fish App that will allow anglers to view fisheries materials, notices and update on their smart phones. More importantly, we hope that this app will serve as a two way process that will allow anglers to provide near real-time catch data to fisheries managers. We are also working with Destinations BC and the Canadian Tourism Commission to find new ways to market sport fishing to our increasingly fractured marketplace.

Notably we have also worked to develop North America's first ever Certified Tidal Angling Guide program which provides guides a tool add to their knowledge base, gives customers confidence that they are hiring qualified guides and gives the public confidence that qualified guides are helping steward our fisheries resources. The program also offers a series of other direct monetary, tax and insurance benefits to guides.

So while you may not often think about it. Indeed, you are probably spending your time thinking about how to grow and improve your business, the SFI is working quietly behind the scenes to speak out on behalf of the sport fishing industry.

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