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

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

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

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read