Sportfishing advocates are holding a demonstration fishery Saturday on the Fraser River near Chilliwack to showcase the selective nature of bar fishing. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)

Sportfishing advocates are holding a demonstration fishery Saturday on the Fraser River near Chilliwack to showcase the selective nature of bar fishing. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)

Demonstration fishery Saturday near Chilliwack to demand Fraser River opening

DFO says Fraser River is closed for good reason and anglers could be charged

Sportfishing advocates are holding a demonstration fishery Saturday on the Fraser River near Chilliwack to showcase the selective nature of bar fishing.

They say they are heading out despite the fact that Fraser River is completely closed to salmon harvesting by recreational anglers for conservation reasons.

READ: Low returns mean few openings

Co-chairs of the Fraser River Sportfishing Alliance (FRSA) say they are confident the “demonstration fishery” will show that bar fishing selectively for chinook salmon has “virtually zero impact” on passing sockeye salmon.

No other angling methods will be permitted.

“We are going to document exactly how many are caught, and what species, and it will be strictly monitored,” said FRSA co-chair Fred Helmer. “We want to show that bar fishing is a viable option.”

Also with retention fisheries for chinook and pinks open in the marine approaches, they feel those fishing up-river should get a shot.

“This is not a protest but a demonstration. We want to try to fix the problem,” said Helmer. “You can yell and scream and bitch, or you can come up with facts and solutions. This is about demonstrating options.”

They’ve been lobbying to get the river open, stressing at the same time that they respect “conservation and we respect the constitutional priority of First Nations,” according to the group’s mandate.

DFO officials said flat out this week that any illegal fishing for salmon by the recreational fishermen near Chilliwack could result in charges and fines.

Herb Redekopp, chief of Conservation and Protection of the Lower Fraser, for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said in his 32 years with the department, he’s never seen the sockeye runs “so depleted” as they are this year.

Returns could ultimately be even weaker than last year’s lowest numbers on record.

“That’s how bad it is,” Redekopp said.

There have been no commercial, or recreational fishery openings this summer, and only “very limited” food, social and ceremonial fisheries (FSC) for First Nations, he said.

Last weekend DFO fishery officers intercepted and seized 24 illegal gillnets on the river between Chilliwack and Hell’s Gate. Gillnets catch sockeye with small mesh netting.

Out in the Marine Area 28 recreational fishers were ticketed for using barbed hooks, and another 16 got citations for not recording their catch of chinook salmon, according to DFO.

“In my view I don’t see anything that indicates that strength of the runs will increase, and so it’s my expectation that river will remain closed to fishing for all salmon,” said Redekopp.

The angling community has been patient and respectful of conservation concerns, said FRSA co-chair Rod Clapton.

“The number of in-river net fisheries and outside fisheries suggests the conservation concerns have abated and our fishery should commence,” he said. “The Fraser River recreational fishery has been a priceless Canadian heritage for many generations. We have grave concerns that this fishery will be lost to our children and grandchildren.”

Efforts to work with DFO to get the river open to selective fisheries, have been to date mostly “ignored” and now time is running out for this season.

A similar bar-fishing demonstration was going to happen last August, before the sportfishers were given a reprieve with a short opening.

READ: Fraser River fishermen form group

However DFO management meets with various stakeholders to hammer out the Fraser River fisheries with user groups way in advance of any openings.

“The numbers moving through the system are so low, we can’t afford an opening,” said Redekopp. “I don’t understand why any recreational fishermen would even want to harvest with such a depleted number trying to reach the spawning grounds. The river is closed for a reason.”

Anglers participating in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery will be meeting at the Island 22 boat launch starting at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2.


 

@chwkjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

 

This file shot shows anglers targeting sockeye by bottom bouncing. A demonstration fishery Saturday on the Fraser River near Chilliwack will showcase the selective nature of bar fishing for chinook. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)

This file shot shows anglers targeting sockeye by bottom bouncing. A demonstration fishery Saturday on the Fraser River near Chilliwack will showcase the selective nature of bar fishing for chinook. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)

Just Posted

City of Chilliwack survey asks for feedback on planned Rosedale skate park

The new structure will occupy a 3,000 square foot space in the middle of Rosedale Park

Newly installed art work honouring the Brett family aviation history in Chilliwack. (Anthem Properties)
WATCH: Neon sculpture beaming yellow light across downtown Chilliwack in the shape of a plane

New public artwork in Salish Plaza honours aviation pioneers, the Brett family of Chilliwack

Jag Deol, owner of Sangam Restaurant and Catering, is collecting non-perishable food items for the Chilliwack Salvation Army at both his restaurant locations. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack restaurant hosts food drive for Salvation Army

Sangam restaurant will match all donations of non-perishable food that come in

Crews work on reconstructing Spadina Avenue in Chilliwack on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Sprucing up of Spadina Avenue with $2.8 million redux wrapping up shortly

Curbing, trees, landscaping, irrigation and street lighting should be complete by early December

Chilliwack’s Klim twins, Matthias and Zach, are the tall guys in the back row (Zach with a green stuffie on his shoulders, Matthias to the right), helping to sort toys at the Archway Community Services Food Bank in Abbotsford. (UFV Cascades photo)
Chilliwack’s Klim twins get involved in community service with UFV men’s basketball team

No games for the G.W. Graham grads due to COVID, but they are doing other things with the Cascades

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Abbotsford mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby comes home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

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

The online poster for Joel Goddard, who left his Willoughby home Nov. 10, 2020, has been updated by his family and friends who received word that he’s been found.
Langley man missing since Nov. 10 found alive and safe in Abbotsford

Family of the Willoughby area man had been searching for days. Police find him at Abbotsford Airport

A UBC study recommends an multi-government investment of $381 million to protect 102 species at risk in the Fraser River estuary. (Photo supplied by Yuri Choufour)
102 Fraser River estuary species at risk of extinction, researchers warn

UBC team develops $381-million strategy to combat crisis, boost economy

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

Most Read