Respect for Fish is driven by anglers interested in having new, collaborative conversations about our relationship with Yukon’s fish and fisheries.

One of the critical conversations that needs to take place is around catch and release.

Catch and release has been a polarizing issue for decades. Research completed by the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board in the late 1990s and early 2000s highlighted these concerns.  We are no further ahead on this issue today and, given the drastically changing physical and political landscape, what was always quiet disagreement is now an emergent conflict.

The goal of Respect for Fish is to alleviate conflicts around regulatory catch and release.

There are often two conflicting perspectives, those who don’t believe in “playing with food” for ethical, or cultural reasons and those who believe that catch and release is a conservation ethic in the best interest of the fishery. Regardless of what side of the debate you are on, the fact is that the regulatory approach to public fisheries requires public anglers release fish that are too small, too large or fit within a specific slot size. This is called regulatory catch and release. It differs from voluntary catch and research, which is the result of anglers choosing to release fish, even if not required to do so.

Often, our differences get us into polarized positions where we can’t hear, see, or understand each others perspectives.  Respect for Fish provides an opportunity to acknowledge and explore differences, focus on shared values and identify a path forward that is well suited for today’s realities.

Background: We are in a time of rapid change where we can’t say it’s business as usual.  Climate change is making weather conditions more unpredictable. Governance is changing, with active land claim implementation, new protected areas, and various active planning initiatives. Demographics are changing, with new Yukoners, aging Yukoners, and more Yukoners living in the city. Fish behaviour, size, and populations are changing and fish habitat is changing and evolving with climatic effects, development, and human activity.In addition to these changes, there many different values, motivations and behaviours within the fishing community.  For anglers, there are many differences in how we fish, why we fish, and how we see our relationship with fish. We are an extremely diverse group who approach fish and fishing in different ways. The general public, governments and organizations also have a diverse set of values. These diverse values in this time of rapid change bring forward differing points of view around fish and fisheries, which are resulting in conflicts. Respect for Fish aims to identify angler values, behaviours and motivations around fish, fisheries and catch and release and share key findings with the public.

Catch and Release Today: Slot size is the management approach and regulatory tool used in many of our Yukon fisheries. A slot-size tool requires the angling public to release fish if they are too small or too large for a particular body of water. Regulatory release of rod and reel caught fish is at the heart of Respect for Fish.

Most discussions around catch and release end up in discussions around science (i.e. associated rates of mortality by species with specific gear type, and best practices around live release). The reality is that the public fishery is more complex than what the data reveals.  Fishing operates within a broader system that involves differing world-views, political realities, ethics, cultures, spiritual beliefs, management practices, enforcement and regulation and much more.

Respect for Fish aims to gain a firm understanding of the diverse set of values, motivations and behaviours around catch and release. Respect for fish, fisheries and each other is a great place to start the discussion and identify a shared path forward.

The goal of Respect for Fish is to alleviate conflicts around regulatory catch and release.


  • Identify public angler values, behaviours and motivations around fish, fisheries and catch and release.
  • Identify the broader fishing community’s interests and values around fish, fisheries and catch and release.
  • Identify shared values between parties from which to facilitate joint discussions around catch and release.
  • Research and promote science-based handling best practices around fish that are released.
  • Explore voluntary approaches to fisheries management that support shared values.
  • Develop an education and outreach campaign to share key findings, best practices and other relevant information from the initiative.


  • Focus on the fisheries in the Southern Lakes region and specifically the Tagish River.
  • Ongoing engagement through focus groups, community meetings, surveys, stakeholder meetings and presentations.
  • Use a combination of western science, local and traditional knowledge to gather information.
  • Use a variety of tactics and media (i.e. print materials, video, social media) for education and communications to targeted.