I am writing this letter in response to an article published in The Progress on Sept. 3, 2020 (“DFO says it won’t authorize test fishery for Fraser River chinook salmon this year”) regarding Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) reference to a request by public angling groups for a test bar fishery for chinook on the Fraser this fall.
What really annoys me about articles like this is that a lot of pertinent information is missing.
It is true that early run chinooks (April-July) are not in good shape, however the late run chinook (August-September) mainly known as the Shuswap run are in good shape and have been the strongest run of chinook for many years now.
There is definitely an opportunity for a public fishery in this time period using selective gear. Speaking of selective gear, the article goes on to say that DFO does not have the regulatory rules to limit the way an angler angles for salmon to avoid incidental contact with non-targeted stocks of concern such as sockeye. I can tell you that it has not been for the lack of trying by local public angling (formerly recreational fishers) groups such as the Fraser Valley Salmon Society, BC Federation of Drift Fishers, Upper Fraser Sportfishing Committee and others requesting DFO for the past 10 years to make these changes.
It makes me wonder, is it they cannot or will not for whatever reasons? If DFO can regulate fishing times, barbless hooks, bait bans, hook size, etc., surely there is a way, if they are willing, to create requested changes and make room for a selective fishery for a short period of time. We believe this is what fisheries management is all about. You manage for all user groups as best as you can, bringing in tools that will allow you to do so fairly and equitably.
One other thing that is missing from this article is that there is a salt water public fishery for these same fish at this time at the mouth of the Fraser.
What is the difference between here and there?
The freshwater public fishery is not asking for the world here, but we have been out of the Fraser for two years now with absolutely no opportunities for chinook.
When there is an opportunity for management to allow even a short-term fishery, I believe DFO should make it happen.
Telling the most conservation-minded user group on the Fraser – the public fishery – that we cannot make room for you is just not acceptable anymore.
Vice-president, Fraser Valley Salmon Society
Angler-at-large representative – Upper Fraser Sportsfishing Advisory Committee
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