Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has announced that as of June 1 the daily catch limit is one chinook per day along the North Coast for recreational fisheries from Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii to Kitimat.
There is also a delay in opening the chinook fishery in Area F for Northern commercial fisheries. DFO states in its notice the fishery should open July 10 with some boundary changes.
The entire Skeena and Nass watersheds, including the Bulkley River, was closed to sport fishing earlier in May.
This move is part of the DFO’s precautionary 25 to 35 per cent reduction in the exploitation rates for chinook stocks of concern to support conservation and promote rebuilding.
Additional reductions are planned to address conservation concerns for the Nass and Skeena rivers and many small wild chinook populations in Northern B.C., as well as southern B.C. chinook salmon and southern resident killer whales. The limit will run until July 31 this year.
Responding to the announcement, B.C.’s Sport Fishing Institute said in a statement late on Wednesday that the DFO had “dismissed the significant efforts of the recreational community to develop meaningful, measurable plans”.
“The DFO has failed to consider the impacts of the restrictions and closures to small communities and businesses along the B.C. coast,” reads the statement.
“Particularly as it regards to northern chinook fishing opportunities, this is an unfortunate and completely unnecessary distraction.
“The issues on the north coast are to do with Skeena and Nass chinook. These runs do not travel much south of the central coast.”
The Sport Fishing Institute said the measures announced don’t provide a fair or balanced approach to the stakeholders involved.
“The damage to business and small communities affected by nearly an entire month of a chinook closure in tidal waters and much longer in river will be very significant and long-lasting.”
The Sport Fishing Institute said the recreational fishing industry was hoping to hear additional details from DFO about providing relief to businesses and communities for the damage caused by measures that didn’t “seem to reflect a balanced approach but bowing to political pressure”.