Steeves/Trail Mix: Protecting fish habitat vital for us too

Removing habitat protection from the Fisheries Act won't just harm fish; it could do just as much harm to people.

Natural shoreline is one habitat it's important to protect

It’s simply an excellent argument for conservation and it was the theme for the 56th annual general meeting of the B.C. Wildlife Federation last weekend: A Land Fit for Wildlife is a Land Fit for People.

It’s particularly true of fish habitat, and is one of the best arguments I can think of why we should not be watering down the federal Fisheries Act by removing the requirement to protect fish habitat.

In general terms, habitat that’s safe and healthy for fish is water that’s safe and healthy for people to drink, (except that neither giardia nor cryptosporidia parasites seem to bother aquatic critters but they sure can harm us.)

It’s in our own best interest to protect fish habitat, yet the federal government is proposing to gut both the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Former fisheries minister Tom Siddon believes this will be part of an omnibus bill that will be rushed through the House of Commons with the next few weeks, so if our objections are to have any effect, we must take a stand immediately.

Let your MP and current fisheries minister Keith Ashfield know that you object strenuously to such changes to legislation that protects fish and wildlife and their habitat.

These amendments would cut the legs out from under our conservation officers and other enforcement staff, who rely on the current legislation as their tool to prevent destruction of habitat.

From all accounts this year’s BCWF convention was a good one, and locals are all delighted that long-time local conservationist, hunter and angler Ron Taylor was presented with the top award the BCWF can present: the Ted Barsby Conservationist of the Year award.

I can’t think of anyone more deserving. Congratulations Ron.

Congrats too, to Bill Bosch, who has taken on the federation’s top job as president. It’s going to be a busy year for him.

Both are long-time members and hard-working volunteers with the Oceola Fish and Game Club, which has one other director on the BCWF board, Jesse Zeman, another really articulate and knowledgeable advocate for fish and wildlife.

I see the Oceola club has a new website that looks pretty neat. It’s at: www.oceola.ca

and so does the Peachland Sportsmen’s Association. It’s at: www.peachlandsportsmens.ca

The next big convention locally is the agm for B.C. Nature, which is being hosted by the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club at Okanagan College next week.

It starts off with a pre-conference field trip to the South Okanagan Thursday, followed by evening owling on the Westside.

Following early morning birding Friday morning, conference presentations will focus on fire and its ecosystem impacts. Eight field trips follow that afternoon.

More early morning birding starts off Saturday, followed by field trips and directors meetings and the agm. Scott Alexander will talk about rattlesnakes at the banquet that evening.

Further outings are planned for Sunday morning.

Details are on the website at: www.okanagannature.org

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com