Beginning April 1 trout and char will be off-limits for anyone wishing to bring one home following recent amendments to fishing regulations by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
After extensive input from communities and multiple stakeholders, the ministry decided that an expected increase in access to streams and rivers in the northwest would put the fish at risk.
However, between July 1 and October 31 a person will be allowed to keep one trout of more than 30 centimetres in length per day.
For the remaining eight months trout fishing in the Skeena area, or Region 6, is now strictly catch-and-release.
“It is in the interests of conservation and maintenance of recreational value to reduce harvest quotas until a better assessment of risk can be made,” the ministry said.
“The regulation affects only the retention of trout and char in streams, and does not change the opportunity to angle for these species in streams, or to harvest salmon in streams or wild and stocked trout and char in lakes.”
A comprehensive study regarding the exact population of char and trout in Region 6 has not been done by the ministry in part because the area stretches from south of Kitimat east of Burns Lake and north to the Yukon border.
“Assessment of stream trout and char populations is particularly challenging, due to the complexity of their life cycles and population structure, and large number of stream systems in the region which support these species,” said the ministry.
This proactive move will keep the population of trout and char healthy despite changes in the region.
“Habitat disruption is part of the concern, including increasing road access and climate change,” according to the ministry.
“The ministry makes regulations based on all factors when managing for conservation reasons.
“Non-retention for November 1 through June 30 will help protect trout during a more vulnerable part of their life cycle.”
If found poaching or having too many fish an initial fine of $100 will be levied and $50 for each fish over the daily quota up to $1000.
The regular fishing licence requirement remains the same throughout B.C.
First Nations food harvesting practices are not affected by the regulation change.
“First Nations right to harvest for food, social and ceremonial purposes are not affected,” the ministry said.
“This particular regulation was actively presented to the fisheries representatives of six First Nations in the region.”
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations recommends local residents to report any violations of the Fisheries Act through the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).
For more information visit http://www.gov.bc.ca/for/.