DFO announces there will be no recreational fishing for chinook on the Skeena and Nass Rivers until further notice. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

DFO announces there will be no recreational fishing for chinook on the Skeena and Nass Rivers until further notice. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Salmon closures a devastating blow to North Coast business

DFO director says an announcement on restrictions for salmon in marine areas expected early June

Recreational fishing for all salmon — chinook, sockeye, pink, coho — on the Skeena and Nass rivers is forbidden until further notice, and an announcement on possible closures or restrictions for salmon in the marine areas is coming soon.

“Everybody is going to be sharing some pain here,” said Colin Masson, North Coast area director for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Stan Doll, owner of Skeena Wilderness Fishing Charters, called the decision “devastating” for local businesses. He said the closure last year cost his company about $100,000, while DFO’s late decision damaged the area’s reputation with future clients.

“Bookings are way down because of last year, and now with it closed again this year I can’t see us doing any business at all until probably August.

“The next couple months are going to be zero.”

Doll said he felt adequately consulted but he and other guides were pushing for a catch-and-release program rather than a complete closure.

With poor anticipated returns for chinook and sockeye, DFO has decided to provide “absolute clarity” by restricting sport fishing for all salmon.

“In the Skeena, it’s kind of a tiered approach in order to cover off different aspects of the recreational fishery. The first thing is there’s the chinook non-retention, but that’s overlaid with no chinook fishing. The difference there is if there’s no chinook fishing then it actually enables the enforcement of individuals who may go out chinook fishing and keep releasing chinook — because a number of those chinook would die,” Masson said.

This measurement won’t affect the catch and release of steelhead in the river, which is managed by the province. But, Masson warns if a fisheries officer spotted a steelhead fisherman who repeatedly caught chinook, they could be subject to some enforcement action as well.

While the closure announcement on May 8 was for the recreational salmon fishery, an announcement is expected in early June for commercial and recreational salmon fishing in the adjacent marine areas, Areas 3, 4, 5, off the mouth of the Skeena River up to Haida Gwaii.

READ MORE: Commercial sockeye fishery faces closure on North Coast

Doll has run his family charter business out of Terrace for 40 years, employing about eight people, offering both river charters in the Skeena watershed and marine charters out of Kitimat and Prince Rupert.

He’s now hoping his company can adapt to closures with more eco-tourism, normally a small side endeavour now pushed to the front line with additional costs for advertising, a new website and brochures. Doll said it’s vital for his company to take this route because his fishing-charter expenses have to be covered whether or not the salmon are there to pay for it.

“We have to pay for our rod days whether we use them or not,” he said. “Our guides, if we don’t employ them, they’ll find jobs elsewhere and we can’t get them back. There’s insurance for all the boats. The costs just don’t go away.”

Impacts to First Nations food fish

When Deborah Parker saw the closure announcement online, she was worried about how she would go food fishing this summer. She lives in Kitsumkalum First Nation next to the Skeena River.

“My brother phoned me the following morning and informed me that it would be best I get a fishing licence to do rod fishing on the Skeena,” she said, to keep a record of the two fish she may catch for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Her brother, Jim Webb, works as a fish and wildlife guardian officer for Kitsumkalum.

Webb said that catch numbers are low through rod fishing, adding “we have a self-imposed moratorium for net fishing on the Kalum River due to low socks.”

Last year, with low sockeye returns, the community held off from food fishing until there was one week when community members were allowed to go out. This year, Parker expects it to be the same.

“We’re going to follow what the fisheries department says. If we have it open for a week, we have some members go out and fish and distribute it out for those who can’t get out to fish, and to distribute to our elders as well,” Parker said.

DFO has met with advisory groups and the First Nations Technical Committee to discuss options for this year and fine-tune a decision for June.

“Most First Nations that we’ve actually had direct bilateral discussions with have indicated that while there may be some harvesting for food purposes, they’re not intending to target chinook unnecessarily when we’re trying to meet our conservation objectives,” Masson said.

Protecting small business in the north

In March, DFO issued an early warning of potential closures to address criticism from the previous year that the federal agency didn’t give enough notice to people who rely on fishing for their livelihoods.

With the anticipated return of 645,000 sockeye, Masson doesn’t expect any recreational or commercial fishing for sockeye salmon in the Skeena River — the return would have to be over a million. The commercial gillnet fishery has already been notified that there would be no targeted fishing for chinook in the Skeena.

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP, Nathan Cullen, is speaking with people with a stake in sport and commercial fishing industry to better understand the impacts.

“When the lobster fishery and the cod fishery went down (on the East Coast) and entire communities were impacted, that was just commercial fishing. This is both commercial and sports fishing communities that will be affected, so that’s all of the hotels, restaurants and stores that rely on those tourists. We’re going to compare the compensation packages and support packages that were prepared for the East Coast,” Cullen said over the phone on May 9.

Certain sacrifice is required in the hope of restoring stocks, Cullen said. He’ll be speaking with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Dominic LeBlanc, in the coming days to learn more about the recovery plan moving forward so these types of closures aren’t necessary every year.

READ MORE: DFO contemplating sweeping North Coast salmon fishery closure

With files from Keili Bartlett



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Commercial fishingDFOHunting and FishingNathan CullenSalmon

 

Salmon closures announced for the Skeena and Nass Rivers, as well as rivers on Haida Gwaii. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada map)

Salmon closures announced for the Skeena and Nass Rivers, as well as rivers on Haida Gwaii. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada map)

Just Posted

President of the Tahltan Central Government, Chad Norman Day, surveys Tahltan territory by helicopter in this July 2019 handout photo. The Tahltan Nation and the British Columbia government have struck what officials say is a historic agreement for shared decision-making for the nation’s territory in northwestern B.C., a hot spot for mineral exploration. Day says the deal shows they are “getting closer and closer to a true nation-to-nation relationship.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Tahltan Central Government
Tahltan Nation, B.C. government sign agreement for shared decision-making

Deal commits the province and the northwest B.C. nation to developing a land-use plan

Hours of practice each day on the part of dancer Braya Kluss keeps her at a high performance level, someting reflected in the competitions she has won. (Submitted Photo)
Remote Tahltan community faces uncertainty with no ‘real’ timeline on Telegraph Creek Road

Provincial transportation ministry says the timeline for road repairs is ‘weather dependent’

Shown is a T-6 Harvard flown by Bud Granley, who has performed at the Vanderhoof Airshow “more times than any other performer,” said Anne Stevens. (Anne Stevens - Vanderhoof International Airshow Society)
Vanderhoof International Airshow a no-go for 2021

Airport open day planned for September

Five rehabilitated grizzly bears were released this month into the Bella Coola area. The Northern Lights Wildlife Society will also be delivering 36 black bears to areas across the province where they were previously found. “They’re ready to go and they’re already trying to get out,” says Angelika Langen. “We feel good when we can make that possible and they don’t have to stay behind fences for the rest of their lives.” (Northern Lights Wildlife Society Facebook photo)
The train station in Smithers pulls into view in a 1959 video of a train trip from Vernon to Prince Rupert. (Screen shot)
VIDEO: Rare footage of Smithers in 1959 featured in train tour video

8mm film converted to video shows Vernon to Prince Rupert by train and Rupert to Vancouver by ship

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, four deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

COVID-related trash is washing up on shorelines across the world, including Coldstream’s Kal Beach, as pictured in this May 2021 photograph. (Jennifer Smith - Black Press)
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Most Read