Sebastian Lavendt of Denmark smiled wide alongside Ucluelet fishing guide Ken Lewis after snagging a salmon as part of a Make a Wish Foundation experience in July, 2017. (Photo submitted by Brock Johansen)

Ucluelet named one of Canada’s top seven fishing destinations

FishingBooker platform celebrates Ucluelet’s fishing guides.

Ucluelet is applauding its local fishing guides after the community was named one of Canada’s top seven fishing destinations for 2019.

The ranking was announced on Jan. 22 and comes from international trip-booking platform FishingBooker.

The company’s public relations manager Allison Arthurs explained that Ucluelet’s charters received rave reviews and an impressive number of bookings.

“Salmon fishing is an absolute dream in Ucluelet,” Arthurs told the Westerly News via email adding the halibut fishing is also “amazing.”

“We analyzed the top locations in Canada based on the number of bookings in each location where we have charters. We also took into account the review scores of the locations, and only took into consideration locations that have an average review score above 4 (out of 5). Finally, we focused on the variety of species in each location and the overall fishing experience an angler can expect.”

READ MORE: Ucluelet makes young New Yorker’s salmon catching dream come true

She said over 1,500 fishing trips were booked in Canada through FishingBooker over the past year.

“FishingBooker is the world’s largest website for booking fishing charters. Therefore, we have a lot of information about fishing all around the planet, and like to give our readers insight and suggestions about where they could take their next fishing trip,” she said. “We also like to raise awareness, and in a way reward these locations and the captains there for being exceptional.”

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noël was elated with the news.

“It’s fantastic,” Noel told the Westerly News. “It’s another feather in our hat to why people come here.”

He added that the ranking shows the importance of not only the local fishing economy, but also the impact that economy can have on Ucluelet’s overall reputation as a tourist destination.

“It’s just another example of how people create revenue streams to live in our community,” he said. “What you’re looking at is a bunch of independent business. It’s all independents that live in town trying to make something work. I think it just strengthens the fact that there’s a need and, not just a need for tourism and outsiders to use our amenities. It’s a livelihood for people that live here that are providing options for tourists to come to…They have a vested interest to make sure that when they get off the boat that Ucluelet and the region is put in a good light.”

READ MORE: Danish teenager’s fish wish comes true in Ucluelet

He suggested Ucluelet is both accessible to travel to and open to a wide range of vacation budgets.

“There’s trips for all budgets and, I think, that’s probably one of the things that put us in the top seven, “he said. “Not just the access to good fishing grounds, but also just the fact that it’s available to all walks of life and all budgets.”

Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce manager Lara Kemps was happy to see the strong local fishing guide community receive well-deserved recognition.

“Ucluelet has a thriving marine sector. Many of our businesses rely heavily on access to salmon, salmon habitat and fin fish resources for their livelihood,” she said. “Ucluelet benefits from these businesses by way of tax dollars collection and by having that industry provide additional spin off services that the entire region benefits from.”

The top seven designation comes at an ominous time for Ucluelet fishers, as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada officially declared nearby Swiftsure and LaPerouse Banks critical habitats for Southern Resident Killer Whales on Dec. 19. That declaration has many fearing fishing closures could be on the horizon.

READ MORE: Ucluelet fears orca protection could shut down fisheries

Kemps suggested such closures could devastate the economy.

“If there was a closure to our area, there would be major financial implications to our small community,” she said. “Fishing brings in approximately $5,784,000 in revenue to Ucluelet and that is not including food or other shopping, aquarium visitation or donations to our Wild Pacific Trail.”

READ MORE: Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail Society reflects on epic year



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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