The Area 14 Sport Fishing Advisory Committee (SFAC) holds its daytime meetings in the committee room at the DFO office in Comox.
For the March 20 meeting, 15 representatives from Area 14 fishing groups and agencies showed up at 1 p.m., with the result being a crowded room of fish-friendly people. The meeting was well handled by Area 14 chairman Gil Gingras, who is also our representative on the south coast Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB).
Coho – The meeting discussed the dilemma of being told there are too many coho and the DFO is not allowing recreational anglers increased opportunities to catch these surplus fish that frequently end up taken in other fisheries. The local SFAC passed a motion in support of the main board motion which basically asked the DFO to reconsider its management practises of reducing hatchery coho production until the South Coast recreational fishery has been at full limits for hatchery coho for several years in the hope of minimizing the other fisheries for these fish.
It also raises the question are pink and chum salmon being monitored for hatchery wild ratios? There are indications that more than 50 per cent of some hatchery rivers pink and chum returns are hatchery stock.
In the Puntledge it was felt we should be looking at in-river coho fisheries after the summer chinook are cleared at the end of July. It was also suggested that fish in the river are not being considered summer run, so why not open 14/11 on Aug. 15?
Chinook numbers for fall chinook were considered OK since it is a hatchery stock. There is still a concern for summer run chinook. Timing of the summer run chinook in the river is cut off at the end of July, this would also clear 14/11 for retention of fall chinook on the suggested Aug. 15 opening.
Small Hatchery Reports
Little River – Coho marking taking place on March 27 at 8:30 a.m.
Oyster River – Pinks smolts are being released into the river.
Qualicum Rivers – They have been selected for study of harbour seal predation on smolts.
Puntledge River – Would support an Aug. 15 opening in 14/11 assuming current returns are positive.
Black Creek – An indicator stream – no report.
Fanny Bay – No report.
Nick Strucci and Larry Peterson reported on the disgraceful amount of garbage along the Puntledge and other local streams.
Glen Lario gave a brief report on the printed set of tidal regulations he is working on and trying to get out on a complementary basis with appropriate advertising support, early in the season. The DFO is not printing regulations in 2015: you must get them off the Internet.
Brad Beith, DFO Communality Adviser, gave a report on interior Fraser River coho exploitation rates. Historically we are allowed three per cent but take only about one per cent. It was unknown what the recommendations for 2015 would be on these stocks.
Chuck Ashcroft gave a report on ground-fish, prawns and crabs.
Halibut – We may see late-season changes in retention depending on in-season catches, otherwise no change.
Lingcod and rockfish openings appear to be the same as 2014.
Prawns – The doing away with high use area management is a real concern to our fishery.
Crabs are being fished to the limit because of high prices for crab in the Asian market.
Proposed tuna limits on recreational fisheries from commercial fisheries are a concern.
A tip of the hat to Gil Gingras and all the dedicated members who work huge hours for the SFAB and our fishery.
Correction: The fish in the photograph with my column last week only weighed 17 pounds on April 1, otherwise it was about three pounds – and 17 inches long.
Your new fishing licenses are due as of April 1.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.