Brian Dunic, the Chair of the Sidney Anglers Association recalls that, some 40 years ago when he was in his youth, the waterways of the Saanich Peninsula were teeming with salmon.
It was the environment in which Dunic first developed his love of sport fishing. These days’ however, sport fishers like Dunic have a significantly greater appreciation of the environmental concerns surrounding the declining salmon stocks and are determined to help solve the problem.
“This is the seventh year for our annual Salmon Derby and, once again, our primary purpose is to raise money for salmon habitat enhancement and repair on Vancouver Island. It’s a need we recognize and are very concerned about, and as responsible sport anglers we take it very seriously,” said Dunic.
It’s for that reason one hundred per cent of the net proceeds of the annual Salmon Derby will once again go to salmon enhancement causes, a contribution that will add to the more than $112,000 already donated over the years.
Those funds have gone to causes such as the Nile Creek Restoration Project, Sooke Watershed Enhancement, Peninsula Streams projects, the Coldstream Hatchery and the Cowichan Estuary Restoration.
As well, all of the fish caught during the event will have samples of their DNA supplied to the Avid Anglers program to help in scientific research to help improve fish stocks.
“We know there have been some serious mistakes made that have resulted in the decline in salmon. There’s been habitat destruction and a general lack of respect for wildlife. For example, Cowichan used to be an important lumber area but all that log booming helped destroy the eelgrass along the estuaries. That eelgrass was critical to the salmon life cycle,” explained Dunic.
Dunic is also quick to point out the economic impacts of declining salmon stocks.
“There was a time there were 40 or 50 boats out there at any time. People came up here to Sidney and the surrounding area from all over the world. That’s mostly gone now, and the businesses in the area don’t have the benefit of those tourist dollars,” he said, adding the Salmon Derby helps, as hundreds of participants arrive in Sidney to take part.
The Derby offers 300 entry tickets to would-be participants at $150 per ticket. Anglers compete for a cash first prize of $10,000 and second and third place prizes of $3,000 and $2,000.
Tickets for the event can be purchased by visiting sidneyanglers.ca or, in person, at locations listed on the website.
The Salmon Derby will happen on Saturday, May 5, 2017 and will be followed that night with a banquet at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney.
— By Tim Collins/News contributor