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Fishing education program offered to Albertans amid COVID-19 pandemic

Southern Alberta fishing enthusiasts showed up in numbers to have their say at an open house in January, held by the provincial government.
Southern Alberta fishing enthusiasts showed up in numbers to have their say at an open house in January, held by the provincial government. THE CANADIAN PRESS

While the provincial government is asking residents to practise social-distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also encouraging the public to learn a little more about the wildlife they share the province with.

Through a partnership with the Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association, a new Fishing Education Program — first of its kind in North America — has been made available to all Albertans for free.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Personal care businesses, outdoor sport facilities ordered to close in Calgary

“We partnered with the Alberta Hunter Education and Instruction Association. They had a new fishing regulation program that they had in place that they were ready to launch so we thought now was the time to do it,” Environment and Parks Minister, Jason Nixon said during an interview on 770 CHQR.

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Nixon said this partnership will offer an in-depth look at the province’s wildlife, even for those who have no interest in fishing.

“You’ll learn a lot about fish and the species that we share the province with,” Nixon said.

“You’ll also learn about the conservation and why the Alberta government makes certain decisions when it comes to how we protect fish species, and why we make certain regulations.”

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The eight-module program features information on fishing practises in the province, including safe angling techniques, water and boat safety and even bear safety.

“There are lots of really good components to it,” Nixon said.

LISTEN: A new fishing education program has been launched for Albertans to access for free

“You’ll learn everything from what species we have in the province and how to identify species… to bear safety components, which of course is one of the things that takes place in our province because bears also like fish.”

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Since launching the program on March 28, Nixon said it’s already been a big hit with the public.

“We’ve launched it across the province and I can tell you that we’ve had 2,800 certificates already as of March 30,” he said.

“There’s lots of interest and lots of people taking advantage of learning about fishing opportunities and the incredible fish species that we have in our province.”

READ MORE: Alberta government seeks feedback on new fishing legislation

The program was launched alongside new sport fishing regulations that are also accessible online.

The regulations came into effect on April 1, and feature new and additional opportunities to harvest walleye, northern pike and yellow perch from water bodies with sustainable populations.

“Fishing is an important part of Alberta’s cultural fabric. This winter, Albertans told us they wanted additional opportunities to catch and keep fish from water bodies where additional harvest is sustainable,” Nixon said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I’m very pleased that we were able to identify and offer additional angling and conservation opportunities in most areas of the province for the 2020 season.”

Nixon said all Albertans looking to practise what they learn within the new program and regulations, should do so while adhering to social-distancing advice from health officials.

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