A Short History: Fly Fishing Canada

A major condition for hosting a World Fly Fishing Championship is that the country, state or province making a bid must also hold a Conservation Symposium that addresses topics concerning water quality; fish and wetlands habitat; the health and well-being of fish stocks; recreational fishing opportunities and their ease of accessibility to the general public; and the effects of urbanization, agriculture, aquaculture, mining, forestry and hydro development. The topics addressed may be of local, regional, national or global significance.

At the urging of Fly Fishing Canada, the first Conservation Symposium was held in Canada at Kamloops, British Columbia, in 1993, which also marked the first time that a WFFC had ever been held in North America. A Conservation Symposium has been an integral part of every WFFC since then.

1993: Canada, Kamloops, B.C.

Clean Water- Wild Trout . Presented by the Fisheries Branch of the Province of British Columbia’s then Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, this half-day-long event concerned the importance of cold, clean water resources; the risks of pollution; exploitation of natural resources; habitat management; and the state of the wild trout, salmon and steelhead resources.

As it evolved, Fly Fishing Canada and the Conservation Symposium provided a significant contribution to the Heritage Fund for Conservation. The proceeds were shared equally by FFC and Kamloops. FFC used its 50% for several conservation projects across Canada, primarily as seed money to attract partners into several major projects that included conducting creel census reports, establishing Exceptional Waters Programs, initiating fly fishing schools for youth, and sponsoring several fly fishing clubs for adults and high schools on the condition that they must conduct a conservation project within one year of receiving their funds.

All recipients are told that the source of funding was the 13th FIPS-Mouche World Fly Fishing Championship and Conservation Symposium held in Kamloops, B.C., in 1993. This not only promotes acceptance of the WFFCs, but also continues to generate additional conservation donations.

Part of the Kamloops portion of the Heritage Fund for Conservation was used to provide an annual scholarship for conservation studies, and it is interesting to note that because of continued donations this fund has actually increased over the years. The remainder of their original 50% of the fund was used as seed money toward building a wheelchair accessible casting pier for handicapped anglers on Lac la Jeune. The local committee raised a further $45,000 for the project, and much of the material was donated or provided at substantially reduced costs by local businesses. About 4,000 hours of volunteer labour were provided by local citizens, the Kamloops and District Fish and Game Club, the Kamloops Flyfishers Association, and various other Interior clubs.

1994: Norway, Ringebu

The Effects of Acid Rain on the Scandinavian Countries. Included were the international influence of air pollution and the “export” of acid rains; the monitoring of water acidification; and the various means of reducing the negative influence of acid rain.

1995: Ireland, Galway City

The Disappearing Sea Trout of Ireland - Report of the Sea Trout Task Force (1994), and the Sea Trout Monitoring and Advisory Group (1995). This presentation contained a very strong scientific content, complete with conclusive evidence provided by an international panel of scientists who had investigated the problems. A resolution drafted by the symposium attendees was sent to the Prime Minister of Ireland. It pointed out the importance of sport fishing and sea trout resources to the tourist industry; the risks of pollution and damage caused by salmon farms; and requested that the government apply “rigid controls, inspections and penalties for any infraction by fish farms which may cause damage to the sea trout and pollution of the water.”

1996: Czech Republic, Cesky Krumlov, South Bohemia

Fisheries and Conservation in the Czech Republic and Surrounding Waters. The subjects covered endangered fish species within the Czech Republic; the conflict created between fisheries and dams constructed for power generation; the influence on fish stocks of predation by river otters and fish-eating birds; and salmonid genetic conservation projects being conducted in the Czech Republic.

1997: USA, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Conservation and Management of Wild and Native Trout Fisheries. Topics included the restoration of fine-spotted cutthroat trout to the Snake River (a sub-species of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri)); genetic identification of native trout species; projects for natural reproduction; the importance of habitat management; private/public partnership for native trout management; and angling regulations designed for the successful management of natural resources. Involved were representatives from the USDA-US Forest Service, USDA-National Park Service - Yellowstone, Wyoming Department of Game and Fish, Trout Unlimited, Colorado State University, and Brigham Young University, Utah.

1998: Poland, Zakpane, Podhale

Influence of Reservoirs on the Biotic Environment of the Dunajec River. The main thrust of this presentation was the restocking of huchen (Hucho hucho) to the Dunajec River. Closely related to the Eurasian taimen (Hucho taimen), these so-called “Danube salmon” are the largest salmonids found in freshwater, and known to exceed 100 pounds. The huchen range in Western Europe is confined basically to the Danube River drainage system, and their populations are endangered by commercialization and habitat deterioration.

1999: Australia, Jindabyne, New South Wales

Hydro Electric Generation in the Snowy Mountains. The horrendous effects of water diversion from the world famous Snowy River, and the protection of native fish species.

2000: England, Bristol

Fishing and Conservation: Past, Present and Future. A presentation covering conservation and youth programs that have been developed by the Salmon & Trout Association, followed by an exchange of international experiences.

2001: Sweden, Lycksele, Lapland

Restoration of River Channels Destroyed by the Logging Industry. Many rivers in northern Sweden were channelized in order to speed the downstream descent of logs being floated to the mills. The rivers are being rehabilitated by replacement of rocks and rebuilding of habitat; salmon migrations are monitored by radio tagging; and individual salmon are “adopted” by sponsors.

2002: France, Gérardmer

Rivers Watch (VigieRiviére) Program of Biological Water Quality Assessment. Human influence on the rivers of Vosges; an angler’s approach to contemporary ecological challenges; the “1,000 children on the bank of a river” project; and the Moral Charter for International Sport Fishing.

2003: Spain, Jaca, Huesca

Fishing in the Wilderness of Spain. Water treatment plans for the Aragon region, which involve reducing the amount of raw sewage going into the rivers and streams; an ecology discussion concerning fish in the Iberian region; the condition of salmonids in Spain; and the socio-economic impact of recreational fishing in Spain, which attracts large numbers of fishing tourists from the European Economic Community.

2004: Slovakia, Liptovsk& Mikuláš

Huchen Recovery Efforts. Rehabilitation of the huchen (aka Danube salmon), of which all spawning grounds were ruined during the Soviet era. They are presently maintained through a hatchery program, but as Slovakia is not a wealthy country little money can be spared toward repairing natural spawning areas. The Slovaks recognize the monetary benefits of a healthy recreational fishery, and many smaller rivers have good populations of wild grayling, plus wild and stocked trout.

2005  Sweden, Lyksele, Lapland

Continued Restoration of River Channels Destroyed by the Logging Industry (see 2001 above). This was primarily an update of the rehabilitation program that continues in northern Sweden; monitoring of salmon migrations by radio tagging; and the individual salmon “adoption” program.

Summary

Since 1993, each FIPS-Mouche World Fly Fishing Championship and Conservation Symposium has provided a forum at which the host region, province, state or country has showcased specific or various areas of environmental concern, and the steps taken to address those concerns. Like British Columbia’s habitat management story at the first symposium, some of the problems addressed have had happy endings; others, like Slovakia’s huchen rehabilitation project and northern Sweden’s river rehabilitation efforts are still in progress; and a few, like Ireland’s tragic wild trout and salmon situation created by fish farming, remain unresolved. In all cases, however, the public at large has been made aware of these situations, so there is an awareness of what has been accomplished, what is being accomplished, and what yet remains undone and requires full public support.