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Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

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…

Chilliwack’s All About Fishing

Published on Sunday, February 14th, 2016


When I started Fishing with Rod back in 2001, I wanted to make sure that some of my energy and time were devoted to positive contribution to this community. We accomplished that between 2003 and 2012 by hosting Fish for the Future in Steveston. That ended after ten years due to other family commitments and the different direction which Richmond is taking as development of the city accelerated.

This year, we will ignite that flame again by reviving an event which used to take place in Chilliwack. Fraser Valley Salmon Society hosted “All About Fishing” back in the early 2000’s but lack of volunteers ended the event after a few years. With the sponsorship from Tourism Chilliwack, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC and Family Fishing Society of BC, I am putting on this event for FVSS again.

Chilliwack’s All About Fishing will happen on March 12th, on the first day of school’s spring break, at the Chilliwack Heritage Park from 9:00am to 5:00pm. We are inviting all of you, new and experienced anglers, young and old, parents and kids, to learn everything about fishing in the Fraser Valley, network with others who share the hobby as you and pass that knowledge to the younger generations. It is a free event! I’ve invited all the experts in the industry so they can share their tips on catching steelhead, salmon, trout and other species.

For more information, please check out the event website and make sure you head to the Facebook event page as well. I look forward to see all of you on March 12th!


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