More than 50 people participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the gravel bars of the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

More than 50 people participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the gravel bars of the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

B.C. anglers plead with Ottawa for more salmon openings

Recreationals sector fears another year of restrictions could wipe out the industry

Ignoring government science and enacting a third consecutive year of broad chinook closures has the potential to dismantle the public salmon fishery beyond repair, a prominent B.C. angler’s group fears.

In an open letter to Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan this week, B.C.’s Public Fishery Alliance (PFA) called for the adoption of recommendations from an early-2020 fishing plan put forth by the federal Sport Fishing Advisory Board. Developed with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) staff, the plan allowed for minimal and sustainable opportunities on abundant chinook salmon runs while avoiding stocks of concern. PFA says the minister’s failure to adopt the plan defies logic and runs contrary to her mandate of providing important economic opportunities with the public resource.

READ MORE: B.C. anglers pan federal response to salmon petition

“The PFA recognize Fraser Chinook recovery will take many years,” the letter reads. “We also understand recovery of these wild Chinook is attainable, as is providing sustainable fishing opportunities without detriment to stocks of concern. These dual objectives are critically important. Our sector must have some form of meaningful access to Chinook stocks that are not in trouble, in order to maintain hope for surviving these extremely difficult times.”

“Since 2008, increased fishing restrictions including closures are the only tools the department has used. The recovery so far, is a wretched failure.”

A spokesperson for the minister said the 2020 measures were not taken lightly and were, in fact, based on the best available science after extensive consultations with stakeholders and Indigenous groups.

“These decisions are very difficult, but they are necessary if we want to see this species survive and return to its former abundance.”

“We recognize the challenges being faced by all Pacific salmon fishers, including recreational anglers. We continue to explore opportunities for sustainable fishing where possible—several were opened during the season last year once we had data to support that decision.”

The PFA would like the minister to lift bans on marked hatchery chinook in Howe Sound, Lower Georgia Strait and other areas identified in the proposal, as well as US hatchery chinook in the Juan de Fuca Strait.

They worry that by blocking the catch of hatchery fish has stopped the recovery of coded wire tags from chinook in 2019 and 2020, impacting a critical scientific assessment tool.

OPINION: Conservative MPs criticize Liberal approach to B.C.’s public fishery

On Jan. 25 Jordan responded to a parliamentary petition put forth by retired Surrey resident and angler Bill Braidwood, calling for an amendment to the 2020 management measures that acknowledged the existence of healthy runs.

She said DFO has launched pilot projects to mass-mark hatchery chinook in conjunction with gene-based research to determine the impacts on wild stocks.

Braidwood called this a “glimmer of hope”, but Conservative MP Mel Arnold for North Okanagan-Shuswap, who sponsored the petition, said the response didn’t go far enough. He is pushing Jordan to support a selective fishery for hatchery chinook by April 1, the beginning of the tidal licence year.

In a letter to Black Press Media Arnold and two other B.C. MPs, Bob Zimmer for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies and Ed Fast for Abbotsford, repeated their call for the minister to adopt the 2020 recommendations.

The MPs want to see a reversal on the ban for hatchery chinook, arguing B.C.’s annual release of 40-million chinook, combined with Washington state’s 70-million chinook, could support a healthy public fishery without impacting wild fish.

“Only non-threatened stocks would be harvested, while threatened stocks in all cases would be avoided using highly effective selective fishing methods. Minister Jordan rejected the proposal, and instead chose to repeat and expand Chinook non-retention in 2020,” the MPs wrote.

“For communities across BC, this is unacceptable. British Columbia’s public salmon fishery is the most economically valuable salmon fishery on Canada’s west coast. There’s no question that it is an integral part of BC’s broader public fishery, valued at over $1.1 billion annually, and one that our communities depend on.”



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo by Tom Zytaruk
Surrey 2021 tree sale begins Friday

City of Surrey says it’s selling quality trees for $20 each

The Washboard Union in the video for the song “If She Only Knew.”
WATCH: Washboard Union’s new ‘double feature’ videos filmed by Surrey director Barberis

‘Double feature’ release for the award-winning country music trio

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Drivers who ignored a speed reader board were pulled over by police in Langley on Feb. 18. (ICBC)
Ignore a speed reader board, get a ticket: some Langley drivers didn’t take the hint

One driver ticketed last week was doing close to double the posted limit

Surrey Mounties says they seized a luxury car, drugs and cash in Newton. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Surrey gang cops seize Alfa Romeo Stelvio, drugs and cash in Newton

This happened in the neighbourhood of 121A Street and 85A Avenue on Feb. 20

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after a news conference at the legislature in Victoria on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. reports 559 new cases of COVID-19, one death

4,677 cases of the virus remain active in the province; 238 people are in hospital

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

Wade Dyck with Luna, a dog who went missing near the Chasm for 17 days following a rollover on Feb. 5. (Photo submitted).
Dog missing for 17 days through cold snap reunited with owner in northern B.C.

Family ecstatic to have the Pyrenees-Shepherd cross back home.

Quesnel RCMP confirmed they are investigating a residential break-in at a home on the Barkerville Highway. (File image)
Thieves make off with $300K in Cariboo miner’s retirement gold

Tim Klemen is offering a reward for the return of his gold

Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire. Image: The Canadian Press
Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell makes third attempt at bail on sex charges

Maxwell claims she will renounce her U.K. and French citizenships if freed

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Feds agree people with mental illness should have access to MAID — in 2 years

This is one of a number of changes to Bill C-7 proposed by the government

Most Read