Fishery Notice 0565

As of June 19, 2020, DFO has implemented revised fishery measures to address at-risk Fraser River Chinook salmon populations.  Fishery Notice 0565 indicates that in areas 13 through 17 the following measures will apply:

Now through July 14 — Chinook non-retention

July 15 to August 31 — 1 Chinook per day, 80 cm maximum size

September 1 to December 31 — 2 Chinook per day

Additionally, DFO stated:

A small number of terminal and non-Fraser Chinook retention opportunities in Areas 13 and 15 [areas we fish in Campbell River] are under consideration and may be announced in a separate Fishery Notice.

So they took away our plate, but threw us a bone.  Not so much a bone, really — more like the possibility of a bone.

Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB) Proposals Ignored

The SFAB worked for months to put forward a plan that would have provided “minimal but critical access and opportunity” for the public fishery to harvest Chinook salmon.  These proposals were largely ignored.

As mentioned in previous posts, one of the proposals was for a “mark selective fishery”, which would have allowed for the retention of hatchery fish that have been marked as such.  The Sport Fishing Institute of BC (SFIBC) released a statement that included the following:

Today, the department has largely ignored important advice and specific plans and data collected by the public fishery, with DFO staff, to implement a balanced and defensible approach to form a 2020 Fraser River Chinook management plan.  The public fishery strongly supports a commitment to aid and participate in activities that will lead to the recovery of Fraser River Chinook stocks. However, the measures announced today make clear that the Department does not believe that sustainable access and opportunity and the health and well-being of small coastal communities and Canadians is a priority.

It’s the SFIBC’s position that there are abundant hatchery and wild Chinook salmon now in our waters from systems other than the Fraser River, and that the SFAB proposals would have effectively reduced or prevented entirely any pressure on Fraser River chinook stocks.

At the same time, by ignoring the SFAB proposals, DFO has ignored the vast economic benefit of the public fishery, and turned a blind eye to the very real damage that has been and will continue to be done to the coastal communities in British Columbia and their economies.

It’s clear that the SFIBC is frustrated.  And justifiably so.  As a charter operator whose livelihood is directly affected by decisions like this, I’m frustrated.

I want decisions to be made that are the product of good science, and that do more than give short shrift to reasonable proposals based on well-researched data.  I want decisions made that achieve a sustainable balance between the health and abundance of Chinook salmon populations and the health and economical well being of the people who live by their side.

By nature, anglers tend to be conservationists.  Those of us who place a high value on the public fishery and those of us who derive benefit from it understand and appreciate the importance of fostering Chinook salmon populations.

Going Forward

Members of the public fishery have to make sure our voices are heard.  We have to make efforts to impress upon our governments that conservation measures need to be made based on the best data available, and need to take into account the economic considerations of all those affected.  Balance is key.

In the meantime, we have to work within the framework that’s been handed down.

I can’t emphasis enough that we are still allowed to fish for Chinook salmon even though there are restrictions on retention.

Sport fishing for Chinook is one of the most exhilarating experiences a person can have, in my biased opinion.  They are magnificent, powerful creatures that will test your abilities at every turn.

If you haven’t lived this experience, I would strongly encourage that you seek it out — even in the times of COVID-19, sport fishing for salmon in the Pacific Northwest is something you can easily arrange and achieve.  And it’s something you will never forget.