VICTORIA — Worsening B.C. Liberal neglect and staff cuts at the B.C. Conservation Officer Service have pushed recreational fishers into donating $100,000 to support enforcement of freshwater poaching laws.
“I applaud the Freshwater Fisheries Society for making this donation; they do great work and they clearly recognize the need for more enforcement,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, New Democrat environment spokesperson. “But surely it is up to government to fund conservation officers and environmental enforcement and protection. What’s next, a bake sale to hire more police officers?”
Since 2008, calls to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) program have skyrocketed, according to call-volume data recently obtained by The Province newspaper. The service’s staff numbers have been decimated since 2002, and it took a $1.5 million budget cut this year. Conservation officers enforce a staggering 25 provincial acts and six federal acts, and do so without proper funding from the provincial government.
“Conservation officers in British Columbia are being stretched beyond the limits by the B.C. Liberals,” said Chandra Herbert. “It is the government’s duty to enforce the law, and conservation officers are an arm of law enforcement.”
“The B.C. Liberal government needs to recognize the important work of conservation officers, respect environmental enforcement, and properly fund the service instead of relying on handouts from concerned stakeholders,” said Chandra Herbert. “The Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. recognizes the importance of conservation officers and enforcement of environmental laws, why don’t the B.C. Liberals?”