Killing Salmon for Eggs

Published on November 12th, 2013 by Rodney

As the fall salmon season approaches the end, it’s not uncommon to see dead spawned out salmon scattered along the river banks. Unfortunately, among these carcasses, the work of some so-called anglers’ assault can be seen. Today, as I walked along a river, I discovered two of these abandoned dead fish with a slit abdomen.

Dead coho salmon

The first one was a hatchery-marked coho salmon, which had her eggs taken. Because it was a hatchery-marked fish, which can legally be retained, the angler may simply have lost the fish after gutting her. However, judging by the state of the fish when it was killed, the angler may simply find it undesirable as it was already quite coloured and decided to only take the eggs home.

Edit: One reader pointed out that the above fish was in fact a male. I stand corrected. I originally also identified this fish as a male due to its kype, but the scattered eggs which he was laying on gave me doubts. In this case, the individual who killed this fish for the purpose of harvest eggs could have misidentified the fish, only to discover its gender when slitting the abdomen open.

Dead wild coho salmon, illegally harvested

The second fish was a wild coho salmon, which have to be released by law in all Region Two streams. In this case, the fish could have been killed by an ignorant fisherman who was unaware of the rules, but was told otherwise and abandoned the fish after retaining her eggs. It could also have been an angler who already knows the regulations, but chose to kill the fish anyway so the eggs could be retained. Either cases make this angler a violator.

These serves as an important reminder that we must keep an eye on all anglers’ behaviours when fishing. Some may simply be unaware of the regulations, while others are well aware of them but choose to break the law. All wild coho salmon have to be released. If you decide to legally kill a fish, you must keep the fish. You cannot simply take the eggs from the fish and abandon it. If an angler seems uncertain, then please kindly assist him or her.

To report a salmon fishing violation, please phone Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s ORR line (observe, record, report) at 1-800-465-4336. If you are asked to leave a message, please be as detailed as possible (violators’/vehicle description, type of violation, the date and time, the precise location). Realistically, fishery officers are unable to attend all calls but they do their best with the limited resource available for them to protect our fish. With your support, you can make their job easier and improve our fisheries.

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