THERE WERE MANY topics covered at the Nov. 15 meeting of the Area 14 SFAC.

Sport fishing advisory groups do important work

Recent Area 14 SFAC meeting covered wide range of topics

 

The Area 14 Sport Fishing Advisory Committee Meeting was held Friday, Nov. 15. Before getting into the minutes of the report, here’s a brief explanation of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB) process.

For management purposes of the recreational fishery, the coast is divided into about 50 numbered areas plus several in the Interior that are on salmon bearing rivers and lakes – check the 2013-2015 Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Guide for an illustration of south coast management areas on the cover.

Many but not all numbered areas have Sport Fishing Advisory Committees (SFAC) that cover one or more area. They forward advice to the main SFAB through north-south split meetings that in turn pass on material to the main SFAB. Each SFAC is made up of representation from user groups and independent anglers that will vary from one region to another.

Of primary importance is to realize they are advisory committees, not action-oriented groups. Area 14 chairperson Gil Gingras has been helpful to board members in sharing the minutes of other SFAC throughout the province. It is a volunteer system that involves thousands of recreational anglers and other associated groups.

Old business

Concern about closing the Comox Regional Fishery Office.

Implications of a commercial sockeye fishery in 2013 (there was none in Area 14).

Concern about the experimental halibut license put in place this season.

Retention of one wild and one clipped coho in Strait of Georgia waters in co-operation with Area 13.

New Business

Tsolum River – Estimated 60,000 returns of pink salmon.

Black Creek – Coho indicator stream – over 10,000 coho though the counting fence as of this meeting.

Salmon Review 2013 – By Brad Beaith DFO South Coast Recreational Adviser:

Catch estimates for this area were up with over 25,000 boat trips. The increase in fishing was because of the increased numbers of coho. There was considerable discussion on Brad’s report; particularly on retention of one wild coho.

Chuck Ashcroft, Chair – of the SFAB Ground Fish /Shell Fish working group report:

Prawns – Commercial catch in Area 14 dropped from 285,000 pounds in 2007 to 44,000 pounds for 2013. In the meantime the coastal commercial catch dropped from a record of 7.5 million pounds to approximately 3.3 million pounds. Maybe they are overfishing the resource – my comment. Needless to say our prawning has been slow.

Lingcod – The SFAB questions the validity of a large increase of creel survey lingcod numbers driven by a 400 per cent increase in salmon fishing based on coho fishing.

Herring Fishery – Concern about Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for commercial harvest Areas 14 and 17 when there is no money to do a stock assessment for 2014.

Halibut 2013 season review – Final numbers not available but it looks like we will be well under our quota.

Halibut 2014 future considerations – There is support for the annual limit to continue and support from the SFAB for one large halibut in the season limit.

Following motions to the SFAB were passed:

Moved to continue the six halibut per year recreational limit for 2014.

Moved to allow the retention of one halibut of any size in the Recreational Individual Annual Limit.

We were cautioned not to expect a large total allowable catch (TAC) on halibut in 2014.

In the discussion on halibut most anglers felt pretty good about the 2013 season.

There was a brief discussion on the new glass Sponge Reef Conservation issues. We have two reefs in Area 14, one near Parksville and the Achilles Bank Rockfish Conservation Area.

Wild Commercial Oyster Fishery – Concern was expressed about the proposed Individual Commercial Quota being allocated to commercially harvest wild oysters on public beaches.

The shop steward from Union of Environmental Workers Local 20147 made a presentation concerning the transfer of two federal fishery officers from Comox to Campbell River. Chairperson Gingras is to bring our collective concerns to the South Coast SFAB.

The public boat ramp in Comox Harbour is heavily used by boaters and suggestions were made on ways to increase the dock section to assist in launching and retrieval in low waters conditions. The chairman is appointing a committee to meet with Comox town council to discuss the problem and forward concerns to the harbour authority.

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.

 

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