Peter Tomlinson of Coquitlam (left) is shown holding a freshly-caught chinook salmon at Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River following an expedition with fishing guide Brant Peniuk (right) on July 16, 2019. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Fisheries and Oceans Canada to reinstate 2019 Fraser River Chinook sports fishing restrictions on interim basis

North Island-Powell River MP calls for measures to support sport fishery

Chinook fishing restrictions implemented in 2019 will be repeated in 2020 on an interim basis beginning April 1, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (FOC) says.

This interim rollover will provide time for the technical review of the 2019 fishery management measures and completion of consultations on possible adjustments to those management measures, a letter dated March 2 to stakeholders about Fraser River Chinook conservation measures says.

But North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney says restrictions on fishing and retention are not enough to save wild Pacific salmon and is calling on FOC Minister Bernadette Jordan to implement more measures to support the sports fishery and related tourism industry “that is critical to many coastal communities, and for a comprehensive.” She is also calling for a science-based plan to protect endangered Fraser River Chinook.

“The restrictions last year were devastating to many guides, lodges and tackle shops up and down the coast,” Blaney says in a press release issued Tuesday. “Especially in our smaller communities, we need a sustainable salmon fishery to support our economy, our food security, and our way of life. These restrictions alone will not get us there. We need a real plan and investment in habitat restoration now.”

RELATED: Limits on chinook sport fishing to cause economic ripple effect in Campbell River

Blaney included a copy of a letter she sent to Jordan that includes Blaney’s call for a “mark-selective fishery of chinook salmon where public fishers would be able to catch and retain hatchery Chinook.”

“Allowing fishers to keep hatchery Chinook would help our local public fishing businesses survive through this process and the benefits outweigh the costs,” Blaney said

Blaney has also launched a petition to support the mark-selective fishery which is available by contacting her office at rachel.blaney@parl.gc.ca or 250-287-9388.

In her letter to Minister Jordan, Blaney said she was pleased the letter from FOC advising stakeholders of the Chinook fishery restrictions was sent out earlier than it was last year. This will give people in the affected industries in North Island-Powell River some time to plan. But Blaney says you only have to look at the moratorium on wild Atlantic salmon in place since 2000 to know that fishing and retention restrictions alone will not guarantee the recovery of wild Pacific salmon.

Blaney would like to see hatchery Chinook marked by clipping of the adipose fin and then the implementation of a mark-selective fishery once these fish reach the minimum legal size for retention. The costs associated are minimal compared to the economic impact that guides, lodges, and tackle shops have in Blaney’s riding, she says.

Blaney wants a decision on a mark-selective fishery made by mid-April in order to have the hatcheries ready for marking in the next salmon cycle.

Time is of the essence, she says.

“Reviewing this over the long-term with the Southern BC Chinook Committee leaves coastal communities reliant on Chinook fishing for their economies waiting too long for action,” Blaney says in her letter to the minister. “I recommend this be made the immediate priority in your ministry.

“The British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund is a good model of how the Federal and B.C. governments can work together to support wild salmon, but far more needs to be done. The funding earmarked for these five years needs to be made available immediately and added to so that spawning streams, kelp forests and eelgrass beds where chinook salmon spend their early lives can be revitalized as soon as possible. Again, pushing this to the long-term with the Southern BC Chinook Committee is a dangerous approach. We’ve known for years that Pacific salmon are in decline and we need to take immediate action.

“And I must admit my concern that the department will refuse to hear from any stakeholders not already part of the advisory boards. Do people in my riding who depend on these fisheries not have a right to be heard? I recommend this be amended and that you take the time to visit affected communities in my riding and hear directly from them.

“It will be several years before the impact of these measures to support wild salmon and coastal communities will be felt. That is exactly why we need to see action now. I hope today’s announcement is just the first in a series meant to revitalize wild salmon and support coastal communities.”

The recreational fishery management measures extended from 2019 into 2020 are:

WCVI Subareas 20-1 and 20-2, and offshore Area 121, as well as Areas 123 to 127 seaward of a 1 nm Boundary Line:

  • January 1 to March 31, 2 Chinook per day
  • April 1 to July 14, Chinook non-retention
  • July 15 to July 31, 1 Chinook per day with a maximum size of 80 cm fork length (additional actions implemented in response to Big Bar rockslide)
  • August 1 to December 31, 2 Chinook per day

West Coast Vancouver Island near shore (Areas 21-27):

  • No measures proposed for Fraser Chinook

Queen Charlotte Strait and Johnstone Strait in Area 12 (excluding Subarea 12-14) and Strait of Georgia – North (Areas 13 to 17, 28, portions of 29 (29-1 and 29-2):

  • January 1 to March 31, 2 Chinook per day
  • April 1 to July 14, Chinook non-retention
  • July 15 to July 31, 1 Chinook per day with a maximum size of 80 cm fork length (additional actions implemented in response to Big Bar rockslide)
  • August 1 to August 29, 1 Chinook per day
  • August 30 to December 31, 2 Chinook per day

Strait of Georgia – South and Juan de Fuca Strait Area 18, Subareas 19-3 to 19-12, Subareas 29-3 to 29-5, 29-8 and Subareas 20-3 to 20-7:

  • January 1 to March 31, 2 Chinook per day
  • April 1 to July 31, Chinook non-retention
  • August 1 to August 29, 1 Chinook per day
  • August 30 to December 31, 2 Chinook per day

Fraser River non-tidal (Region 2), 29-6 to 29-17 (except 29-8), and the non-tidal waters of the Fraser River from the Mission Bridge u/s to the confluence with Sawmill Creek:

  • Jan. 1 to Aug. 23, No fishing for salmon
  • Aug. 23 to Dec. 31, Chinook non-retention
  • Fishing opportunities may be provided in tributary areas where and when at-risk Chinook stocks would not be encountered.

RELATED: Chinook retention begins in Campbell River, but amid new size limit


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

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