Tag Archives: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Salmon Fishing Closures Announced In BC Waters Across From Washington

Canadian salmon managers have announced a series of closures and reduced Chinook limits in British Columbia saltwaters across from Washington and up the coast, bids to help out orca whales and conserve fish stocks.

A large swath of the northern half of the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Renfrew — opposite Neah Bay — to just west of Sooke — across from the Joyce area west of Port Angeles — will be closed to all salmon and finfish angling from June 1 to September 30.

(DFO)

Waters northwest of Orcas Island in the Gulf Islands and off the mouth of the Fraser River will also see Chinook closures.

(DFO)

“These measures include closures that will help increase the availability of this critical food source for southern resident killer whales,” the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said in a statement. “The closures will take place in three key foraging (feeding) areas.”

While the goal is to reduce fishing boat traffic, it wasn’t clear what might be being done about all the other vessels using the same waters.

DFO also announced that daily limits are being chopped in half on the north coast.

Overall, Canada’s two-pronged move aims to reduce commercial and recreational catches by 25 to 35 percent to boost numbers of kings returning to southern BC’s Fraser River and northern BC’s Skeena, Nass and other streams.

On the former front, it’s part of an international effort to help out struggling orcas.

(DFO)

It follows Washington’s closure of Chinook retention in the San Juan Islands in September, a good month to fish for Fraser-bound fish that are also preyed on by orcas.

WDFW also implemented new voluntary go-go zones along the west side of San Juan Island, a key feeding area for the giant marine mammals, but which were panned by a local angler as a feel-good move that doesn’t address root causes of the orcas’ plight — too few Chinook anymore.

DFO’s moves were also met with skepticism from the Sport Fishing Institute of BC.

“It is clear to see that decisions have been made to appear as though they will make a significant difference to the recovery of SRKW although there is little or no evidence of this,” the organization said in a statement. “While the recreational community has indicated a willingness to participate in measures that can lead to recovery of Chinook (and SRKW), the measures announced today are much more restrictive than the department itself explained was necessary to satisfy conservation objectives.”

SFI said that habitat, predator and “strategic enhancement” work for Fraser Chinook has “gone no where (sic)” and asked whether DFO really thought it could restore runs through the “now tiny exploitation rate associated with recreational fishing? Chinook and all those that depend on them deserve solutions and investment.”

Reacting to the developments, Nootka Marine, located further up the west coast of Vancouver Island from the closure zone, tweeted out a link to regulations for Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlet.

DFO says the Straits, Gulf and Fraser mouth closures will be monitored “to assess the effectiveness.”

A WDFW official says besides the state’s closing of September Chinook retention and the voluntary stay-away areas, no more fishing measures to benefit orcas are anticipated to be implemented this year.

 

New Paper: High Numbers Of Pinks, Other Species Could Be Impacting North Pacific Salmon Ecosystem

Along with the possible plight of pinks come potential problems with pinks.

A paper out yesterday suggests that the hundreds of millions of humpbacked salmon, along with chums and sockeye, out there in the North Pacific could be bucking the ecosystem something fierce.

“While it is good that abundance of sockeye, chum, and pink salmon is high, there is growing evidence that this high abundance, especially pink salmon, is impacting the offshore ecosystem of the North Pacific and Bering Sea,” said Dr. Gregory Ruggerone in a press release from the American Fisheries Society.

GRAPHS WITH THE PAPER SHOW ESTIMATED ABUNDANCE OF PINKS, CHUMS AND SOCKEYE IN TERMS OF INDIVIDUAL FISH AND OVERALL BIOMASS. (AMERICAN FISHERIES SOCIETY)

He’s the Seattle-based lead coauthor of “Numbers and Biomass of Natural? and Hatchery?Origin Pink Salmon, Chum Salmon, and Sockeye Salmon in the North Pacific Ocean, 1925–2015,” published in the Society’s journal Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science.

“This impact may be contributing to the decline of higher trophic species of salmon such as Chinook salmon in Alaska. Hatchery salmon are exceptionally abundant now and contribute to this impact,” Ruggerone says.

According to a press release on Ruggerone et al’s paper, there was an average of 721 million pinks, sockeye and chums in the ocean annually between 2005 and 2015, with 70 percent, or 504 million, of those being pinks.

Overall, chums represent the largest biomass, and are mainly produced in Japanese and Russian hatcheries, while Alaskan operations favor pinks and sockeye.

PUGET SOUND PINK SALMON RUNS EXPLODED IN THE EARLY 2000S, BUT THE LAST TWO RUNS HAVE NOT DONE SO WELL. 2017’S BUCKS WERE EASILY TWICE THE SIZE OF 2015’S. THAT DIFFERENCE MIGHT HAVE BEEN DUE TO THE BLOB, BUT COMPETITION FOR FOOD AT SEA WITH LARGE NUMBERS OF NORTHERN STOCKS PLUS CHUMS AND SOCKEYE THEORETICALLY MAY HAVE PLAYED A ROLE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The relative health of salmon populations all has to do with your perspective — down here in the Lower 48 and southern British Columbia, we’d likely argue the opposite — but Nanaimo, BC-based coauthor Jim Irvine wonders if there are now too many in our shared ocean.

“If the North Pacific Ocean is at its carrying capacity with respect to Pacific salmon, the large numbers of pink salmon and chum salmon may be having detrimental effects on growth and survivals of other species,” says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans researcher.

Ruggerone’s and Irvine’s article was published the same day that CBC reported two humpies last fall swam 161 miles further up the Mackenzie River than any others previously recorded, all the way to Fort Good Hope, more than 300 miles upstream of the Arctic Ocean.

It follows on possible Russian pinks colonizing United Kingdom rivers in 2017 too.

The press release from the American Fisheries Society goes on to say:

“High salmon abundances can lead to reduced body size and survival of salmon and lower survival of seabirds. The ocean carrying capacity for Pacific salmon may have been reached in recent decades. Research is needed to better understand the impacts of high salmon abundance on the offshore marine ecosystem, including depleted wild species such as Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout, and some populations of sockeye and chum salmon.”

The authors suggest making all hatchery fish identifiable, estimating catches and escapement for both hatchery and wild stocks, and making that data available to the public.