In this report I will talk about two topics, all of which you are going to want to know if you fish for chinook in and around the Vancouver area.
First, the chinook fishery off the Fraser Mouth in September is in serious jeopardy. You will want to read about this and act by filling out the survey. There is a very real risk it will be closed this year due to SRKW measures from the N Arm to S Arm, Aug 1 to Oct 31.
Second, the numbers are in from last year’s chinook returns and it’s good news. We saw major rebounds in stocks of concern from very low brood stock years, with strong returns on local rivers and on the Island. Check out the numbers for our Fraser fish.
Fraser Mouth SRKW Measures: Fraser mouth could be closing!
Once again DFO has proposed SRKW measures off the mouth of the Fraser. Last year they closed the N Arm area from Aug 1 to Sep 30. This is called Option 1 or Option A this year.
Now there is a proposal in place to extend that closure down to the S Arm and extend the closure date until October 31. This is called Option 2 or Option B
The Sport Fish Advisory Board (SFAB) is currently in meetings to try to stop Option 2 and even reverse the implementation of Option 1. The Public Fishery Alliance (PFA) and the Sport Fishing Institute (SFI) are also fighting hard against these options. The SFAB and SFAC process is not a lobby process, it is an advisory board process to DFO, so any opinions I express going forward are mine alone. This is where the SFI, PFA and YOU come into play. Only through your input can these things change. I was in a 3-hour meeting on this topic with DFO this week as your Sport Fish Advisory Committee Chair. What I can tell you after that meeting is they are indeed looking to implement Option 2 in my opinion. That was certainly the bias that I picked up, so we best get to what you can do about it.
DFO is looking for public input. The ENGOs are weighing in on this and without your input as the anglers who fish these waters, I fear the worst. So please take a few moments to fill out this survey before Feb 19, but before you do, keep reading and follow some of the guidelines I have laid out below.
It should be noted the maps seen above can be misleading as they show % of intensity of occurrence. In other words, when the SRKW are there, where they are likely to be. It doesn’t show the actual number of days the SRKW are there each month of the proposed closures. Really it comes down to hours, as those of us who fish the area know, not days.
When you go to the survey it will look like this for the Fraser Mouth proposals.
The survey is biased for support, so here is how you need to fill it out.
- You do not need to choose support of Option A or B. So don’t check those circles!
- Where it asks if additional areas should be considered, check NO
- For question 6 talk about how if the area is closed it would impact you.
- Talk about how this is your only opportunity to harvest salmon in Vancouver and the social importance of this fishery to you and your family.
- Talk about your financial contribution to the local economy because of your participation in this fishery.
- If this closure impacts your business state how and be specific.
- Mention that areas 29-6, 29-7, 29-9, 29-10 are already closed to salmon fishing and offer a large measure of protection for SRKW when they are in the area.
- Let them know you are not in support of Option A or B because large scale static closures have not been proven to be effective in aiding SRKW and have maximum negative social and economic impact.
- Tell them you are in favour of a 400m to 1000 m avoidance zone and more boater education. This will protect SRKW migration and foraging yet allow anglers to use the area when SRKW are not present, which is the vast majority of the time.
In addition to completing the survey, if you are compelled to write a letter, which has the most impact, please email it to DFO.SRKW-ERS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Some personal comments. How DFO can be looking to increase SRKW closures when they haven’t even been able to quantify the effectiveness of current closures or provide data on how often the SRKW are there on per day or per hour basis, is beyond me. Clearly their mandate is to close areas so it looks good from a political point of view. Look at us we are saving the whales! Look at all these areas we have closed! That can get some votes, so time to call them out on this because it’s gone too far.
It should also be noted that the SRKW population is actual stable and not in decline and the recent studies show there is 11 to 20 times the amount of chinook needed in both US and Canadian waters during the periods that SRKW are present to satisfy nutritional requirements of the whales.
Here is an excellent article from the SFI recently featured in Island Fisherman Magazine.
The Public Fishery Alliance has also been at the pointy end of the spear on this fight. Here is a recent blog post and video from them, urging anglers to fill out the survey and leave comments.
Once again, I urge you to write a letter and fill out the survey and fight for our remaining Vancouver chinook fishery. We have a lot to fight for, as you will see in the next article, stocks could be on the rebound and if these SRKW closures take effect you won’t have access to them!
2022 Chinook Numbers: Things look promising…
As many of you know, the fishing last year was good. Well, the numbers are in and they certainly reflect what we were seeing out on the water. Ocean survival has been good as chinook numbers from a variety of rivers with different life histories all did quite well, many of them coming off record or near record low brood stock years.
The Fraser Spring 4.2 are one of the stocks of concern. Notice the size of the return in comparison to how low the brood stock year was (the yellow dot). This is an extremely positive development and a trend that I hope continues.
Look at this run. Awesome news. The Fraser Summer 5.2 are coming off a horrible brood year and back up to 25,000 plus and well over the long-term average.
The Fraser Summer 4.1 are those mid-August 8-15 lb reds we used to fish for off the Fraser. Still a very strong run that I hope we can get access to again in the future. A strong return off a very low brood year.
This one is a big deal. These are your fall white chinook, so the Harrison chinook. Look at the size of the run, about 80,000 coming off one of the worst brood years in decades. It hasn’t met the escapement goal in some time and I was fearing possible restrictions as a result. So, I am very glad to see it back above that red line and closer to the blue line. On top of this there are all the Vedder/Chilliwack whites with the hatchery now releasing 2,000,000 instead of the previous 1,000,000 smolts. Those fish aren’t reflected in these totals but we certainly saw them off the Fraser Mouth this fall with great fishing.
Check out that run back in the early 2000’s! Over 160,000 fish. That would have been some good angling! Just shows you what is possible with good ocean survival and good ocean and river management.
As you can see, some very positive news across the board for Fraser chinook from the upper reaches where all those early fish go to the lower reaches. Skeena and Nass, although still well below traditional highs, came in above forecast as well.
I wanted to share these numbers with you so that you can see there is hope and there are some positive trends out there. The chinook runs can come back, it has been worse (look at the Fraser Summer 4.1 graph) and it can get better.
I know we are all busy and to be honest, pretty burnt out on fighting for our access to waters and to sustainable fisheries. But we all need to dig deep and push back hard on these SRKW measures. If we don’t it won’t matter how strong these chinook runs are as you won’t have access to them here in Vancouver and that would be a very, very sad day. So, write that letter and fill out that survey and I hope to see you off the Green Can next fall.