Once again, former pro hockey player Brendan Morrison will kick off the 10th annual Tofino Saltwater Classic fundraising fishing derby on July 5 at 10 a.m. with a fun game of shinny hockey at the Wick Elementary School. (Westerly File Photo)

10th annual Tofino Saltwater Classic embraces catch and release format for Chinook prizes

Fundraising fishing derby has raised over $500,000 for community initiatives since its inception.

This year’s 10th annual Tofino Saltwater Classic (TSC) fundraising fishing derby is set for July 5-7. TSC founder and ex-NHLer Brendan Morrison will kick the festivities off with a puck drop and friendly game of shinny hockey at Tofino’s elementary school.

While the proceeds from the weekend’s events go towards local Tofino community initiatives like the Wickaninnish School Healthy Food Program and the Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society, the derby is a little different this year with the new Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) regulations on retained Chinook.

“We will be a catch and release derby for our Chinook prizes. Coho and Halibut will remain as retention prizes,” announced Morrison in a message to participants.

“As passionate anglers, we’ve decided not to let the restrictions stop us from getting out on the water and enjoying what we love to do. Anglers can still retain fish in certain areas, but all Chinook eligible for prizes must be released. We will have fish master boats patrolling the water ready to measure fish,” said Morrision.

Two months ago, DFO announced sweeping closures in British Columbian waters to address conservation concerns for Fraser River Chinook. For Tofino recreational anglers as well as First Nations (food, social, ceremonial) in the offshore waters of Area 24, DFO has imposed a Chinook non-retention regulation until July 14, 2019. Normal regulations, two Chinook per day, four in possession, will resume July 15 for the West Coast of Vancouver Island offshore areas.

READ: Fisheries Department announces conservation measures to protect chinook in B.C.

VIDEO: Brendan Morrison’s Tofino 2018 Saltwater Classic passes $500,000 raised

Regardless of the Chinook restrictions, the main reason the TSC was created, says Morrison, was to raise funds for local Tofino initiatives. Since its inception 10 years ago, the TSC has raised over $500,000.

“We are extremely proud of this success and grateful for all the support from the community, our volunteers, supporters and partners,” said Morrison.

“We never really knew how the Tofino Saltwater Classic would be received when it was started. Our team believed we had a good idea that could support some great local initiatives. The community has embraced it wholeheartedly, and we want the event to continue for years to come,” he said.

Anyone interested in volunteering or participating in the 10th annual Tofino Saltwater Classic is encouraged to visit: www.tofinosaltwaterclassic.com.

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