The 4th meeting of the Committee was held on Oct 26th. Brief summary:
- The 3rd party science review team is close to finishing its report on the proposed management plan for North Central Native Trout. It will be made available to Committee members in early November and the lead scientist, Dr. Stephen Cooke. will meet with the committee on Nov 26th to answer questions etc prior to its public release. The report will not only address the science used in developing the plan but also the extent to which stakeholders were engaged in the process. All Committee members had opportunity in the last two weeks to speak individually by phone with Dr. Cooke and his lead researcher about the NCNT plan.
- In preparation for the other 3rd part review promised by the Minister, that on the Northern Pike/Walleye/Perch management, AEP biologists Stephen Spencer and Myles Brown presented an overview of the rationale and science underlying the current management plans for walleye/pike lakes. The science review team for this project has not been selected as yet but AEP’s Office of the Chief Scientist is currently narrowing the potential list. The next step is for the Committee to establish the key questions for the review team to address, based on input from those whom it represents. If you have concerns or questions that you believe the review team should address about how the pike, walleye, fisheries are currently being managed, tag system, regulations etc please let me know so I can compile and pass them on.
- Angler education is also a key topic for the Committee – is it needed, should it be required, what form should it take, who should deliver it etc.. The Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association has developed, with funding from AEP, an online Angler Education program that deals primarily with fish identification, techniques and equipment, safety, ethical behaviour and legal responsibilities. It has a built-in test too. It’s not released as yet pending the Minister’s approval. If it’s as good as their Hunter Education program that you’re required to pass before getting a hunting licence then it could be very useful.
- It was good to see evidence that habitat concerns on the east slopes are being actively addressed and I‘ll have more detail on this in a couple of weeks. The Feds (DFO) are the lead regulator and now have a rep attending the Committee to hear the concerns. Although Fisheries Management can influence but does not control habitat use, its Roadways Watercourse Crossing Program has now inspected 6000 crossings, removed 343 barriers and reconnected 500 km of fish habitat. It’s also got Alberta Transportation on board and they’ve recently done 943 inspections and are working on fixing a significant number of “non-compliances”. Add to that Woodlands North, on behalf of the Energy and Forestry sector, has done over 16000 inspections and spent $8m in the last 3 years on fixing crossing problems. The amount of habitat work needed is massive and will take years and a lot of money to fix. The Committee, especially TUC, has also highlighted the need to ensure protection of undamaged areas
- The need for AEP to do a better job in communicating came up throughout the day in relation to all topics. The ADM agrees and is addressing it internally.
- Michael Short, “Let’s Go Outdoors”, did a short video on the Committee and its purposes. If you’re interested watch it on YouTube (https://www.youtube....h?v=0pceh0UXDfA)!
- Personally, I’ve been impressed with the willingness of AEP to listen, respond and provide any information the Committee has requested, the fact that we get a full day of an ADM’s time each month, and the candour of the committee members in expressing opinions.