Dean Werk of FV Salmon Society, Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer, Fred Helmer of FRSA, and Abbotsford MP Ed Fast discuss fisheries on a gravel bar in the Fraser River near Chilliwack on April 28, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Dean Werk of FV Salmon Society, Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer, Fred Helmer of FRSA, and Abbotsford MP Ed Fast discuss fisheries on a gravel bar in the Fraser River near Chilliwack on April 28, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

VIDEO: Feds asked to OK selective fishing on Fraser River instead of closures

With record-low salmon returns looming innovative approach is needed, say fishing reps

The protest sign on the Fraser River guide boat said it all: “Closing rivers is not a recovery plan.”

With record-low salmon returns looming this summer, some public fishery advocates are sounding the alarm that blanket closures on the Fraser River will once again be the tool of choice from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Advocates for the “public fishery” as sport fishing leadership now wants it called, met with Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer, and Abbotsford MP Ed Fast Wednesday (April 28), for a gravel-bar summit near Chilliwack to discuss Fraser River fishing issues.

Conservative MPs, Bob Zimmer, is co-chair of the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus, and Ed Fast, answered the call from the Public Fisheries Alliance to send a video message to federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, asking the government to look for innovations and alternatives to closures and restrictions in the name of conservation.

The 2020 Fraser salmon returns were the worst on record with most populations now endangered, and 2021 is expected to be similar.

“Seems like the only tool DFO has to use are closures when talking about threatened species of salmon,” MP Zimmer said in the video with the Fraser River in the background. “But what you might not see on camera is there is a lot of fish out there as part of the marked selective fishery.”

On the river for the discussion were Dean Werk from the Fraser Valley Salmon Society, and Fred Helmer from the Fraser River Sportfishing Alliance, launching the latest salvo in their quest for “selective” fishing opportunities.

They also want “mass marking” of hatchery fish to go from 10 per cent to 100 per cent, to create retention opportunities without impacting stocks of concern.

“I don’t think closing any fishery is good for any user group,” said Werk, who also owns Great River Fishing Adventures. “Looking for solutions and working together gives us the opportunities.”

They are appealing for urgently needed research and development of new regulations for selective fishing, such as bar rig fishing, as well as fly fishing and spey casting, and to help them do the selective fishing research to prove its merit.

For the video shoot background they set up a bar rig on the gravel bar for visuals, without actual hooks, to show the potential for using “selective” fishing gear, such as a shorter leader in order to avoid bottom-bouncing and catching stocks of concern.

Mass marking of hatchery fish, meaning clipping all their adipose fins, would help B.C. harmonize its fishing rules with the states of Washington and Oregon, as well.

“Sport fishing groups have been sounding this alarm since 2008 and have been pushing for selective fishing regulations and are willing to invest both time and money to work with the province and DFO to get the science that supports the regulation,” said Zimmer.

The sport-fishing industry is estimated to inject $1.2 billion dollars a year into the B.C. economy, and sustain more than 9,000 jobs.

“Conservatives are supporting the development of the regulation by a private member’s bill and urging the Minister and DFO to support this initiative with funding and the permits to do the science.”

The research should also start as soon as possible this summer, they argue, so that the scientific basis of the selective sport-fishing regulation can be firmly established. Local sport fishing groups have already taken the initiative to organize volunteer support and seed funding, and are just awaiting federal contributions to the grass roots efforts.

Sweeping river closures were protective measures from the feds.

Acting on record-low returns in 2019, the government’s 2020 Fraser River Chinook salmon management measures, released last June, expanded on sweeping closures and restrictions. DFO argued the restrictions were necessary to protect 12 of 13 wild Fraser River Chinook runs assessed to be at-risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Historic low returns to the Skeena River triggered its own set of restrictions and closures.

RELATED: Selective fishing demo going ahead

“What’s important is that when you have people that care about the resource and benefit from that resource: First Nations, public fishers, commercial and First Nations, it’s all about building trust and respect and understanding,” said Fred Helmer of the Fraser River Sportfishing Alliance, and owner of Fred’s Custom Tackle.

He’s fed up of the divide-and-conquer approach all parties have been subjected for 40 years around fish issues.

“It’s so counterproductive to what needs to happen,” Helmer said, adding that instead the various stakeholders “who care need to be engaged, cooperative and respectful, and to search for better answers for the future.”

RELATED: Pushing for a public fishery

RELATED: Fisheries Minister stands by decision to limit openings

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Fisheries and Oceans CanadaFraser River

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

 

Dean Werk of FV Salmon Society, Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer, Fred Helmer of FRSA, and Abbotsford MP Ed Fast discuss fisheries on a gravel bar in the Fraser River near Chilliwack on April 28, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Dean Werk of FV Salmon Society, Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer, Fred Helmer of FRSA, and Abbotsford MP Ed Fast discuss fisheries on a gravel bar in the Fraser River near Chilliwack on April 28, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Just Posted

The Chilliwack Chiefs played their 2020-21 BCHL season finale Sunday against Prince George at the Chilliwack Coliseum. The junior A team will open 2021-22 with an American Hockey League team calling Abbotsford home. (Darren Francis photo)
Chilliwack Chiefs viewing Abbotsford AHL arrival as an opportunity

The junior A BCHL club hopes to strike up a friendly relationship with the unnamed Canucks affiliate

Trina Hunt’s remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Trina Hunt’s family appeals to killer to step forward after remains found in Hope

Cousins also ask Hope residents to think back to weekend Port Moody woman was in the area

Chilliwack real estate may finally be moving towards a buyers' market, according to the local real estate board. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack real estate sales forecast to see the highest increase in B.C. in 2021

BCREA second quarter forecast predicts 51.6% jump in sales this year, 20% rise in prices

Damian Dutrisac went missing while fishing the Fraser River on May 7, 2021. (Facebook/ Damian Dutrisac)
GoFundMe campaign started for missing Fraser fisherman

Anyone with ‘a boat, time, or a drone’ to search the Fraser on May 12 is being asked to help

...
Fraser Valley Bandits team with Fraser Health to encourage vaccination

Professional basketball team urges those qualified to receive shot to ease life back to normalcy

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

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

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Most Read