British Columbia Fishing Blog

Fishing Trip Stories, Video Blog, Website Updates...

Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Being Kept Off the River for the Wrong Reasons

Published on Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Catching Fraser River Pink Salmon

Throwback Thursday! Exactly two years ago, Junior experienced his first pink salmon outing on the Fraser River. His job at the time was to net the fish. This fish he is ready to graduate to actually bring one in with a rod and reel.

Once every two years, many families like ours, have the privilege to enjoy this wonderful fishery for a couple of weeks. It is the perfect salmon species for young anglers. They are plentiful, eager to bite and easy to manage once on your fishing line.

I’m sure many of you are frustrated (actually that is an understatement, livid might be the appropriate term) as this fishery closure continues after yesterday’s Fraser River salmon update. Comments across our social media platforms and discussion forum make that pretty evident. While I understand the frustrations, there is quite a bit of misinformation being put out there so lets lay out the facts so you know what’s going on.

First of all, almost all of the fisheries in Region 2 are open right now. The Fraser River is closed for salmon fishing, but the negative publicity of this closure has lead anglers to believe that all rivers are closed. You can check what you can fish for and retain in each river on this page:

http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/fresh-douce/region2-eng.html

Most of the tributaries of the Lower Fraser River are still not seeing salmon returning yet, but things are slowly picking up. As always, Chilliwack/Vedder River is seeing both chinook salmon (which you can retain) and pink salmon (which you can catch and release) arriving daily at the moment.

Secondly, First Nations have the right to have their communal food and ceremonial fisheries, please don’t suggest otherwise. The constitution of your country says so. If you would like to challenge that, the supreme court of Canada would be the venue for you to do so.

Some of you have expressed your concerns on the racial remarks in the comment section. Please note that inappropriate comments do get deleted (if you can’t see the deleted comments, how would you know if comments aren’t being deleted?). Some comments that are stereotyping but not what I’d consider as racist are left alone, because both sides need to see them to understand that there is a problem when priority is given to one user group than the other. Lack of understanding from both sides leads to stereotyping, which leads to conflicts.

This blame on First Nations for the demise of Fraser River salmon is unnecessary. While the amount of fish taken seems significant, it is incomparable to what commercial fisheries harvest historically. With that said, there are issues that need to be addressed. By-catches of sockeye salmon, which apparently are a major concern in recreational fisheries, exist in in-river gill net fisheries and cannot be ignored. The illegal sales of salmon from communal fisheries by some participants need to be stopped. You can do so by reporting the sales, and not buying to end the demand. Just like in recreational fisheries, a small number of people who choose not to play by the rules gives the entire user group a bad name, which should not be used to label the entire group.

Rather than blaming the other user group which shares the same resource as you, your attention should shift toward those who manage these fisheries and pose questions which have been avoided repeatedly. Instead of simply shut down the entire fishery, why are we not looking at different options to provide some angling opportunities while ensuring the sustainability of vulnerable species? Why aren’t the options of opening pink salmon for catching and releasing, or reducing the retention quota to 2, or 1 fish, being considered? What is the target quota given for the First Nations, is it a fixed number of fish per year, or is it a ratio that is adjusted based on the size of the runs? And are we expecting that target to be reached before we can expect a recreational fishing opening? Why are terminal fisheries for pink salmon in systems like Chilliwack/Vedder and Harrison Rivers not being made available, when the rationale of the closure is to protect Fraser River sockeye salmon? Why is the Tidal Fraser River not open for pink salmon when incidental by-catches of sockeye salmon are unheard of due to the specific fishing techniques being employed for pink salmon? Why is the retention of dead sockeye salmon being permitted now in some First Nations communal fisheries when their low returns are the reason behind recreational fishing closures?

Instead of complaining about First Nations, the lack of fishing opportunities and wanting your licences refunded here, you should be phoning Barbara Mueller, the resource manager of Fraser River (604.666.2370) and Jennifer Nener (604-666-0789) at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who should be able to answer these for you while you address your concerns. In the past several years, this community has seen a sharp decline in interest on recreational fishing among resource managers. Instead of answering questions, resource managers have taken the silent approach in the past two years. While conservation is priority to ensure the survival of future stocks, some management decisions being made are simply wrong and their socioeconomic impacts need to be addressed. When one user group is being shut out because it is the easiest way to avoid conflicts between groups, you’re simply sweeping the problems to the side which will keep growing. The recreational fishing community cannot stand by during these closures in the name of conservation while many signs indicate otherwise.

The Pros and Cons of Fraser River White Sturgeon Catch and Release Fishery

Published on Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Lower Fraser white sturgeon caught by Nina and Kitty.

Last weekend Vancouver Sun published an article, Doubts over catch-and-release sturgeon fishery in the Lower Fraser River after new study finds fish endure extreme stress, which raises some legitimate concerns on this fishery, but it immediately drew negative attention from those who are not familiar with it as expected.

While post-release mortality in any catch and release fishery should be a concern, most readers of this article are unfamiliar how the Lower Fraser River white sturgeon fishery is practiced. Unlike the methodology used in the study which this article refers to, air exposure is minimized as per the catch and release guidelines developed by resource managers and the recreational fishing community. We don’t hang our fish in the air after a lengthy fight as it was simulated in the study.

The white sturgeon catch and release guidelines prohibit anglers from removing fish out of the water when they are captured. Any fish over the length of 5′ must cannot be lifted up in the air due to insufficient weight support. Fish under the length of 5′ are kept in cradles that are constantly fed with water while the fish are being measured. Catch and release has its risks and there’s no doubt that some mortalities occur, but with proper practice anglers can prevent this from happening.

Higher water temperature in the summer should indeed be a concern. Coupling high water temperature with a long fight, a fish’s survival rate can be lowered. Managers should look at these factors and adjust the regulations, rather than proposing a permanent ban as many non-fishermen would like to see.

Although the fight of a large sturgeon can sometimes be over one hour long, one should not assume that the fish’s health is jeopardized. Anyone who has fought a large sturgeon knows that most of the fight actually involves the fish swimming around without even being aware of the hook while the angler can only sit back and hold onto the rod. It is unrealistic to expect an angler to be reeling and putting pressure on a fish for over one hour straight. Physically it is impossible for most people.

Despite of these potential negative impacts, lets look at the benefits which this fishery has brought to the Lower Fraser River white sturgeon population and the Fraser Valley communities.

Since this sturgeon fishery was transformed into catching and releasing, and harvesting was banned in 1995, an ongoing tag and recapture program was also established. Fishing guides have volunteered to be part of this program since the beginning, and have tagged over 50,000 fish in the past twenty years. From the data collected (length and girth measurements, locations of their capture/recapture), it has accelerated our understanding on these fish. We’ve been able to estimate the Lower Fraser white sturgeon population size and its growth, the health of each year class so recruitment rate can be determined, their migratory patterns from capture/recapture points, and locations of their spawning grounds.

In addition, this recreational fishery has generated millions of dollars from freshwater fishing licences and conservation surcharges. A percentage of these funds have been used in recovery programs for the other endangered white sturgeon populations in this province (Columbia, Kootenay, etc) which are actually endangered. This catch and release does not just benefit the Lower Fraser white sturgeon population, but its positive impacts stretch right across the province.

While some may think catch and release is a cruel practice and those who participate in it cannot persuade those who don’t agree with it, I think we can all agree that this fishery’s benefits have outweighed the presumed negative impacts. As more conclusive information on post-release mortality is formed by researchers, the fishery can then be refined to further minimize our impacts.

Videos: Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Public Information Sessions

Published on Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Back in March and April 2016, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (GoFishBC) hosted a series of public information sessions so you can find out more about what FFSBC is doing to maintain and improve recreational freshwater fisheries in this province. During the sessions, VP of Science from FFSBC made two presentations and they can now be viewed here if you missed the sessions. The first video is an overview on who FFSBC is and what they do. The second video is about developing new freshwater fishing licencing products.

Chilliwack River Juvenile Steelhead Release

Published on Saturday, May 7th, 2016

Last week, Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery and Chilliwack Salmon Hatchery teamed up for the annual juvenile steelhead release in the Chilliwack/Vedder River system. Each year, approximately 125,000 juvenile steelhead which have been raised at the hatchery are released into the river. These fish will spend the next few years in the ocean and return as adult steelhead in the winter months.

For more information about the program, please watch this video.

It’s Salmon Release Time!

Published on Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

In the next few weekends, there will be a series of community salmon release events across the Lower Mainland in British Columbia. These events celebrate the hard work dedicated local river stewards have done throughout the year. They are educational, entertaining and FREE, so excellent for families with young kids that are looking for activities to weekend participate in.

Nicomekl Enhancement Society Open House and Fish Release in Langley
April 30th, 11:00am – 3:00pm
Take a tour of the hatchery and release 30,000 juvenile salmon. More information…

Fingerling Festival at Noons Creek Hatchery in Port Moody
May 7th, 11:00am – 3:00pm
Over 70 exhibitors will be presenting their local stewardshop projects and there will be 40,000 fingerlings for visitors to release in buckets! More information…

Great Salmon Send-Off at Stoney Creek in Burnaby
May 14th, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Stoney Creek Environment Committee invites all to release young salmon into Stoney Creek. More information…

« Older Entries |