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Fishing dries up in Metro Vancouver parks 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

(FOTOLIA)

(FOTOLIA)

Almost every category of parks use in Metro Vancouver has risen dramatically in the last two decades — except for fishing.

According to a new report for the Metro Vancouver environment and parks committee, the number of visitors at regional parks has skyrocketed well beyond population growth since the early 1990s.

Where once Lower Mainland parks saw about two visits for every resident in the region, the number in 2013 totaled more than 10 million visitors for a population of more than two million.

But for reasons unknown, the number of people fishing has shrunk by half. Participation rates were once at 12% two decades ago and have since shriveled to 6%.

Evan Le Gal, vice-president at the Richmond Rod and Gun Club, speculated that one reason could be how limited numbers of fishing spots mean fewer veterans are encouraging new fishers to take up the sport.

“So the more people you get out there, the harder it is for everybody else — it’s an absolutely horrible way to think about it,” he said.

Park users from 25 to 40 years of age have declined significantly and now make up only 22% of visitors.

Le Gal, who has fished for the past eight years, said helping a new generation pick up the sport could be rewarding.

“I’ve taken guys out and I’ve shown them how to fish and they’ve gone on to become better fishermen than I,” he said.

“That’s an awesome thing to be able to do — to see the enjoyment on their face when they catch their own fish.”

According to the report, participation rates for activities such as hiking have doubled with about eight-in-10 park users taking advantage of the green space for walking and hiking.

In the past year, all but three of Metro Vancouver’s 25 parks — the exceptions being Campbell Valley, Lynn Headwaters and Surrey Bend — saw increased use. In the latter two, the decline in visitors was attributed to new dog leash rules and a closure for construction.

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