Restrictions to Washington’s Chinook fisheries are being followed by meaty ones on the British Columbia side of the international border.
Canadian salmon managers yesterday announced a series of measures to protect Fraser River-bound Chinook, and by extension southern resident killer whales, and which will affect recreational and commercial seasons this year.
MATT LITTLE CAUGHT THIS 50-POUND CHINOOK WHILE FISHING OUT OF BELLA BELLA SEVERAL SEASONS BACK. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans acknowledged they were “difficult,” but said with 12 of the big river’s 13 stocks at risk, the loss would “be disastrous not just for wildlife that depend on them as a food source, but also for the many BC communities whose jobs and ways of life depend on Chinook salmon. That’s why the Government of Canada has taken, and is taking, urgent and concrete actions to ensure that at-risk Chinook salmon are protected for future generations.”
But the Sport Fishing Institute of BC said it was “profoundly disappointed” by the actions.
“The plan … shows no consideration for impact on coastal and indigenous communities on the south coast of BC. The hope now is that in the long term these measures will be combined with other actions including predator control, mass marking, stock enhancement and habitat rehabilitation. In the near term we all brace for the impacts that will come from this decision,” the organization said.
BC is a popular destination for Northwest salmon anglers and others in the Lower 48 and beyond.
Of note, a large part of the province’s mainland west coast from Rivers Inlet to Prince Rupert and the Alaska border and the inland waters of western Vancouver Island will continue to see two-Chinook daily limits this season.
But as for other saltwaters, the restrictions are similar to some implemented last year on the Canadian side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands, and around the mouth of the Fraser.
DFO lays out 2019’s changes thusly:
• Commercial fishing: Commercial troll fisheries for Chinook will be closed until August 20 in Northern BC, and August 1 on the West Coast of Vancouver Island to avoid impacting Fraser Chinook stocks and to support conservation priorities.
• Recreational fishing: The 2019 management measures for recreational fisheries where at risk Chinook stocks may be encountered are designed to maximize returns of these at risk Chinook to their spawning grounds. Opportunities to harvest Chinook will be provided later in the season to support the long-term viability of the recreational industry. The 2019 measures include:
• Non-retention of Chinook in, Johnstone Strait and Northern Strait of Georgia until July 14; a daily limit of one (1) Chinook per person per day from July 15 until August 29, and two (2) per person per day from August 30 until December 31.
• Non-retention of Chinook in the Strait Juan de Fuca and Southern Strait of Georgia until July 31; retention of one (1) Chinook per person per day as of August 1 until August 29, and two (2) per person per day from August 30 until December 31.
• West Coast Vancouver Island offshore areas will have non-retention of Chinook until July 14 followed by a limit of two (2) Chinook per day from July 15 to December 31. West Coast Vancouver Island inshore waters will remain at two (2) Chinook per day for the season once at-risk Chinook stocks have passed through, to support the long term viability of the salmon and of the recreational fishery.
• Fraser River recreational fisheries will remain closed to salmon fishing until at least August 23, and opportunities will be informed by any other conservation issues (coho, steelhead, etc).
• An overall reduction in the total annual limit for Chinook that can be retained per person in a season from 30 fish to 10. Recreational fisheries for other species will continue. Please see the Department’s web-site for local regulations.
• First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries: these fisheries, which have a constitutionally protected priority, will not commence until July 15 – concurrent with the opening of the recreational retention fishery.
Earlier this week, WDFW announced that the mainstem Columbia wouldn’t open for summer Chinook, that the ocean fall king quota is 26,250, just below last year’s, that Marine Area 7 would not be open in August, that the Area 9-10 marked-selective fishery would be delayed till July 25 with smaller quotas for both, and that fishing for blackmouth, or resident Chinook, would be closed in numerous marine waters in different months this coming winter.
If there’s good news from the north side of the border, it’s that the federal and provincial government announced a $142 million “British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund” and DFO said it and the US were “convening a forum to discuss and assess scientific evidence relating to population dynamics of seals and sea lions, their diet and their impacts.”
That is slated to occur this fall, according to a Vancouver Sun article out today, which also stated that “A group of First Nation fishers and hunters has approached Fisheries Canada with a plan to start a commercial seal and sea lion hunt to supply meat to restaurants in Canada and Asia, fat for supplements, and possibly as pet food.”
DFO also said it was “looking for additional recreational fishing opportunities for stocks like coho and halibut,” and “extending the current Commercial Troll voluntary licence retirement program to ease pressure on fish stocks.”