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

Signs geared to protecting salmon habitat were damaged at the Fraser River near Chilliwack. (Facebook)
New signs for protecting Fraser River habitat near Chilliwack vandalized

Fishery officers want off-road users to enjoy river resource in the ‘least damaging way possible’

Kelli Paddon in her virtual speech to the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 2. (B.C. Legislature)
Chilliwack-Kent MLA thanks Agassiz’s Miel Bernstein in legislature speech

Bernstein is the founder of Project AIM, which gives people in need access to period products

(Black Press file photo)
Harrison Mills boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

A real estate sold sign hangs in front of a Canadian property Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy.
Fraser Valley Real Estate Board breaks sales records 6 months in a row

‘Levels never seen before in the 100-year history of the FVREB’

Rendering of proposed homeless shelter and supportive housing facility on Rowat Avenue and Trethewey Avenue in Chilliwack. (BC Housing)
Supportive housing and shelter proposed to replace the Portal in Chilliwack

Province looking to fast-track hybrid proposal for 50 supportive homes and 40 shelter spaces

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

A memorial to Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment. (File photo)
Surrey officer who fatally shot Hudson Brooks recounts ‘absolutely terrifying’ incident

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran testified at coroner’s inquest Tuesday morning

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria both have a MySafe machine to help reduce overdoses

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Abbotsford Regional Hospital (Black Press file photo)
Nurse assaulted at Abbotsford hospital in same ward as 2019 dumbbell attack

‘Completely unacceptable that nurses continue to be assaulted,’ says union president

Most Read