Nova Scotia

How Nova Scotia plans to make the province a sportfishing destination

Nova Scotia wants to make the province a sportfishing destination. This fall, the provincial government plans to launch a new long-term program called Fish Nova Scotia. The hope is to attract tourists through sportfishing.

Minister says there has been no real effort to grow the sportfishing industry

Fishing guide Gioia Stanley casting a line. (Scotty Sherin)

Nova Scotia wants to make the province a sportfishing destination.

This fall, the provincial government plans to launch a new long-term program called Fish Nova Scotia. The hope is to attract tourists through sportfishing, whether it's on the ocean, a lake, or in brooks and streams. 

"We are very excited about this. For many, many years there was no real effort to grow our sportfishing industry in Nova Scotia," said Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Keith Colwell. 

Fishing of all kinds will be included in the plan, including tuna, bass, trout and salmon.

The Fisheries and Aquaculture Department is also working with Tourism Nova Scotia on the project. The province has been consulting with businesses and fishing guides and has been developing a website to help businesses connect with each other.

Sustainability is key: local fishing guide

The hope is businesses will work together to create packages to entice visitors to spend more time in Nova Scotia.

"This is going to be really high end activities that we can have people come and enjoy the province, not just the fishing, but also maybe go to a winery... or have a round of golf," said Colwell.

But Cape Breton fishing guide Clifford Paul has some concerns about increasing pressure on ecosystems and fish stocks.

Paul works with the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources and fishes to provide food for his community of Membertou.

"I know our sport fishery is world class, we want to keep it that way, and we're going to have to strike a balance between how the locals approach this resource and how we are going to share it," said Paul.

Gioa Stanley is a fishing guide in Baddeck. (Jeff Stanley)

Paul said the province should consult with Mi'kmaq communities as well as local anglers to get a better sense of fish stocks. 

However, Paul sees potential in the idea if it's sustainable. He believes Mi'kmaq guides could develop their own packages that would introduce visitors to their culture and heritage, while also using resources in a sustainable way.

Colwell hopes a focus on sportfishing will bring back a style of tourism that was once popular in Nova Scotia in the early 1900s.

Fly fishing instructor and guide Justin Lovell casting in the Margaree River. (Contributed by Justin Lovell)

Fishing and hunting guides would take wealthy visitors into Nova Scotia's forests for multi-day trips. Author Albert Bigelow Paine once spent weeks with Mi'kmaq guides in Kejimkujik National Park, inspiring him to write The Tent Dwellers.

Colwell said the province has been offering a new guiding course to help enhance the experience of visitors.

Gioia Stanley, a fishing guide from Baddeck, N.S., is keen on the idea. She believes the province has a lot to offer visitors.

"We have so many rivers — prominent salmon rivers here in Cape Breton and in Nova Scotia," she said. "We have the Bras d'Or Lake, which is open all year round and presents a lot of different opportunities, whether it be fishing from a boat, fishing from the shore, or ice fishing."

Mason Burke holds a catch up to the camera. (Donald Halfpenny)

Anglers also say they're willing to share their favourite fishing holes with visitors. 

"It's such an untapped resource for us. I can't believe how many people aren't on our famous rivers when I go there," said Mason Burke, an angler from Sydney, N.S., who operates multiple fishing groups on social media.

It's unclear how much it will cost to launch the program, but a spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture said it will cost $200,000 a year to run Fish Nova Scotia. 

A tender has been issued looking for promotional material for the program.

Colwell said they will be marketing the program internationally, doing things like trade shows in other countries, similar to the work that's been done to expand Nova Scotia's seafood exports.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brittany Wentzell

Current Affairs Reporter/Editor

Brittany Wentzell is based in Sydney, N.S., as a reporter for Information Morning Cape Breton. She has covered a wide range of issues including education, forestry and municipal government. Story ideas? Send them to brittany.wentzell@cbc.ca

now