I am going to start off this weeks report with an update on where we are at with potential chinook conservation measures that may affect your ability to fish for or harvest a chinook this season. The Sport Fishing Institute has done a great job of summarizing this issue and recent events. Read the information below so you are informed and click on the links to see the proposal that was put forward to the Fisheries Minister by the Sport Fish Advisory Board (SFAB) in an effort to maintain access to chinook while meeting conservation requirements. If you wrote a letter re-send it to the Fisheries Minister now, and if you haven’t its not too late. This is critical and read below for more information.
As has become evident over the last several years, there are specific stocks of Fraser River Chinook that are in a serious state of conservation concern and require attention. It is hoped that DFO will take swift action to improve Fraser River stream type salmonid production through opportunities such as strategic and careful enhancement, predator control and habitat rehabilitation.
Scenario B – Retaining Opportunity
On February 5th DFO distributed a discussion document that outlined the Fraser River Chinook issue and presented two example scenarios for consideration. Scenario B would reduce the CYER (CYER; all mortalities, across all fisheries divided by the total estimated size of the run) of the stocks of concern to 10%, a number that DFO declared as acceptable in the discussion document. Scenario B involves the use of bag limit reductions (to 1 per day, 2 in possession) in Johnstone Strait and Northern Strait of Georgia from April 1 to the end of August. It is also incorporates a mark selective fishery and bag limit reduction of one hatchery marked fish per day from April 1st to July 31st, with the option to retain one chinook per day marked or unmarked from the month of August for the migration corridor from the western entrance of Juan De Fuca Strait to the Fraser River mouth. The detailed description of the scenario recommended by the SFAB is here.
In contrast, Scenario A details a 5% CYER option, which would require non-retention of Chinook for the public fishery from April 1st to July 31st. This Scenario would effectively destroy the reputation, opportunity and prospects of the public fishery while reducing the exploitation rate of Chinook by the public fishery by only .8 % over Scenario B. While there are significant concerns about some runs of Fraser River Chinook and it is important that all sectors adjust catch impacts, implementation of Scenario A is neither a biologically necessary or a socially responsible approach. Public fishery impacts on these stocks are extremely low already, and the additional conservation benefit to stocks that would be achieved from implementing non-retention in the public fishery versus a mark selective fishery, MSF, combined with bag limit reductions amounts to less than a 1% difference, yet the social and economic impacts would be devastating.
While neither approach is desirable for the public fishery, given the state of conservation concern, the SFAB has suggested that Scenario B represents an approach that almost eliminates the impacts on stocks of concern in the public fishery. Scenario B continues to fulfill the legal requirement for the public fishery to “bear the brunt” of conservation measures which must take place before DFO can choose to impose restrictions on First Nations FSC fisheries. It is in the FSC fisheries where the bulk of the harvest of these stocks would take place if scenario B were to be implemented.
It is worth repeating, the difference in public fishery CYER between Scenario B and Scenario A is a reduction of only 0.8%! When considering the benefit of harvest measures to the stocks of concern versus social and economic cost (this is a relationship that is important for DFO to include in development of management decisions), it is inconceivable how DFO could contemplate the short- and long-term socio-economic impacts to small coastal communities that would result should Scenario A be implemented.
It is important that the public fishery is participant in a sustainable approach and addresses conservation concerns in a meaningful way. Scenario B is a far cry from providing the opportunity and expectation that would allow the public fishery to thrive and represents “survival mode” for our fishery. It is a plan that we hope can be considered only in the short term and would be paired with much more effective actions to help the stocks of concern recover.
Making the point – Letters to the Minister
To that end, decisions have not been made by the department or the Minister at this time. Some have sent letters to the department to describe the importance of opportunity personally and to the public fishery. Timing is good and it is important to send letters to the Minister now to make the same point and before decisions are made. Letters should express the values and importance of opportunity personally and to small communities coast wide and that decisions must be considered against the benefits of any management measures adopted. It is important that steps are taken to address conservation concerns but when DFO’s evidence shows that one scenario will retain opportunity for the angling community and the other will eliminate it, the imbalance must be highlighted; by all measures, the socio-economic costs are far greater than the benefit to the resource. Minister Wilkinson can be reached at: [email protected]
Okay, on to the fishing. In short it was good to great this past week. The not so good days were because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and had a bit of bad luck, but for the most part all spots in the Harbour and Howe Sound produced well this week. I would say it was one of the best weeks of the winter season so far, if not the best.
The water has definitely gotten “dirtier” from the start of the algae blooms. We are in the 25-35 foot zone in terms of visibility. Gone are the cold and dark winter days that give us water clarity of 50-65 feet. As a result the brighter gear has been the ticket. Chartreuse and green glow flashers and the same for spoons, hootchies, and teaser heads is the way to go.
Crabbing has been good and so has prawning. With solid chinook fishing, crabbing, and prawning and double-digit temperatures in the forecast, it’s a great time to get out there and book a trip.
See you in the shop or on the water,