SFAB Main Board meeting April 14-15, Richmond, BC

The Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB) main board is meeting this coming weekend, April 14-15, 2018 at the Airport Marriot Hotel, 7571 Westminster Highway, Richmond, BC. The public is welcome. Please respect the meeting chairperson with regard to speaking or presenting at this event. Follow this link to learn how to request meeting materials.

At a March 20, 2018 meeting of the Upper Fraser Valley Sport Fishing Advisory Committee, an update on enforcement of fishing regulations raised a number of concerns, among these being the few Fisheries Officers and Conservation Officers available to keep order, and the significant number of illegal net sets these few officers managed to catch. Which begs the question as to how much illegal fishing on the river goes unremarked?

5. Enforcement Update – C&P, F.V. East (FVE) –D. Clift

  • During 2017-18 season C&P staff levels/resources were very low (e.g. down from 11 Fishery Officers(FOs) to 5 F/T FOs and 1 Recruit);
  • Provincial CO Service are short also and are currently hiring more staff;
  • Low C&P resource levels also impacts ability to respond to new & emerging priorities;
  • Mission C&P Office is closed;
  • 2017 season enforcement stats summary: 126 illegal set nets, 90 violation tickets issued, 37 warnings and over 2000 fishers checked;
  • ORR staffing issue (i.e. limited/reduced coverage during 2017 season) impacted FO patrols;
  • Areas of reported high non-compliance in recreational fisheries were the Stave and Vedder Canal at Keith Wilson bridge.

Concern expressed by committee members about observed increase in number of cars seen
on Vedder Canal Dykes and potential impacts of these activities on riparian habitat areas; it
was confirmed that rules (i.e. bylaws) are in place prohibiting motorized vehicles.
General reminder to report fisheries enforcement concerns to Observe, Record, Report
(ORR) line 1-800-465-4336 & Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) 1-877-952-7277.

Deadline for Comment on Draft 2018/19 Northern and Southern BC Salmon IFMPs for Consultation – Extended to April 13, 2018

DFO has extended the deadline for comments to be submitted on the 2018/19 draft Northern and Southern BC Salmon Integrated Fishery Management Plans (IFMPs) to April 13, 2018.

The draft plans set out the policy framework that guides decision making, general objectives relating to management of stocks of concern, enhancement and enforcement, as well as decision guidelines for a range of fisheries. Plans for First Nations, recreational and commercial fisheries and post-season evaluations from the 2017 fishing season are also included. A number of key changes have been shaded in the draft IFMPs for comment and discussion.

Comments may be provided in writing to Ashley Dobko via e-mail or to the local DFO office in your area. For more information, and perhaps a copy of the subject IFMPs, you may contact Ashley Dobko by email or at (604)-666-1505.

Victoria and Area SFAB Committee – Regional Issue Update from DFO

You may read this summary document from DFO concerning fish and fisheries issues being considered by and of interest to the Sport Fishing Advisory Board. If you have any questions or would like your local reps to bring something to the table at the upcoming South Coast SFAB meeting this coming weekend, please feel free to contact Tom Cole at (250) 478-1306 or by email, or Chris Bos at (778) 426-4141 or by email before this Saturday.

Mentioned in the document linked above is the Southern Resident Killer Whale fisheries management proposal from DFO. Earlier this year, in Feb and Mar, the Victoria and Area SFAB Committee held three emergency SFAB meetings (Sidney, Victoria and Sooke), where Martin Paish (SFAB Exec and IHPC SRKW Committee) and Chris Bos consulted with the local angling community so that a suitable response could be submitted to DFO from our sector relating to their proposal. The formal SFAB response was submitted before March 15th deadline and included the recommendations coming from the emergency meetings.

Regarding 2018 Chinook fishing coastwide – the department has recently sent out a document indicating they are contemplating additional Chinook management measures for BC this year. The concern DFO anticipates poor returns of number of stocks including but not limited to Skeena and Fraser Rivers. While no final decision on what measures may be taken has been made, further reductions in exploitation are being considered. For Fisheries Management Areas 18, 19 and 20 early timed Fraser stream-type Chinook are expected to be low too. It is not anticipated to have a closure of the Chinook fishery locally, but DFO might seek some additional tightening of the regs. SFAB reps will discuss this topic with DFO prior to the upcoming South Coast meeting.

Comment on DFO’s SRKW discussion document re: closures by March 15

DFO has proposed measures intended to provide food (chinook salmon) and perhaps less interaction with sport fishing vessels for SRKW. These measures include shutting down salmon fishing in specific areas from May 1 to September 30 of this year.

You can read their SRKW Discussion Paper Final Feb 15 2018.

As an example of proposed measures, for the Strait of Juan de Fuca west of Sooke, they showed this map as captioned:

SRKW forage areas in JDF west of Sooke
Juan De Fuca Map showing SRKW Foraging areas and Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs).

and followed it with this information:

Proposed Management Measures: For this area, an experimental approach is proposed with salmon fishing or fin fish closures proposed for Subareas 20-3 and 20-4 from May 1 to September 30. Monitoring is planned to compare SRKW foraging behaviour in these areas with the adjacent Subareas 20-1 and 20-5, which will remain open to fin fish.

Other areas discussed are named as Pender Island, Saturna Island and Mouth of the Fraser.

You have an opportunity to submit your remarks on this topic to the DFO by March 15 using the form Southern Resident Killer Whale Discussion Paper Feedback Form, which is formatted by DFO as a Microsoft Word document.

Fisheries Act changes planned with Bill C-68

The federal government is looking to change the Fisheries Act and to roll back changes made to the Act by the former ruling Conservatives. Please see bill C-68 here on the Parliament of Canada website.

Reporting to date seems concerned with reaction from industry groups, none of which appears to include sport fishing.

In a missive to the Sport Fishing Advisory Board, DFO has stated, “The changes proposed in this Bill are aimed at protecting fish and fish habitat, supporting Indigenous reconciliation, protecting biodiversity, and incorporating new modern safeguards. ” More information is available at the DFO’s webpage A Fisheries Act for the future.

Another cost of Victoria’s new blue bridge

While it’s easy to track the ever increasing dollar cost of the old Blue Bridge replacement in Victoria, it’s only recently it seems that people have noted another potential cost.

The lights that are planned to illuminate the new bridge will almost surely cost many bait-sized fish their lives. Of special concern are salmon fry migrating out to the ocean. Hunting animals need only park themselves at depth under the lights and await their prey to swim above them. This feeding method has been observed to be used by seals and sea lions in several Vancouver Island rivers in which man-made lighting – on a bridge or a near-shore structure or roadway – enables them to easily detect their prey.

Washington state bills to help SRKWs

An Associated Press article published here and here reveals the effort being made in Washington state to deal with the threats to southern resident killer whales (SRKW).

One House bill sets aside $1.5 million to produce 10 million more hatchery chinook salmon, a roughly 20 percent boost over current production, so orcas will have more to eat.

“Using smart hatchery production we can still support rebuilding wild fish runs and have hatchery production,” said Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, prime sponsor of House Bill 2417, which unanimously cleared a policy committee and awaits action in a fiscal committee.

State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, has proposed a package of bills aimed at protecting orcas and the waters they swim in. Senate Bill 6268 would essentially double to 100 the number of days state wildlife officers are on the water to keep boats a safe distance from orcas. This bill would also convene a meeting between experts in British Columbia and Washington to discuss strategies to help the orcas.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed supplemental budget devotes $3 million to helping the whales by increasing enforcement of boat regulations, increasing production of chinook salmon at hatcheries and improving habitat. Inslee is also expected to create a killer whale task force.

In Canada, recent years have seen DFO reduce the funding and stop the permitting of attempts by volunteers to enhance chinook production in the southern Vancouver Island area, presumably in support of a wild fish policy. Yet, somehow, Washington state legislators feel they can have both wild fish and enhanced chinook production.


Cooke Aquaculture fined for Atlantic salmon fish-farm spill

Washington is the lone U.S. west coast state that allows Atlantic salmon net-pen farming in its public waters. California and Alaska ban the practice, while Oregon has no Atlantic salmon net-pen farms. The Seattle Times reported in late January of this year on the result of a review by a panel of experts of the catastrophic net-pen spill of Atlantic salmon at Cooke Aquaculture‘s Cypress Island fish farm. The state’s Department of Ecology fined Cooke $332,000 for violating its water-quality permit before and during the net-pen collapse.

“Our investigative team doggedly pursued the truth,” said Maia Bellon, director of the Washington Department of Ecology. “Cooke Aquaculture was negligent, and Cooke’s negligence led to the net-pen failure. What’s even worse was Cooke knew they had a problem and did not deal with the issue. They could have and should have prevented this.”

Cooke Aquaculture has disputed the state’s methods and findings.

In December of 2017, Washington state Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz terminated the state’s lease with Cooke at another farmed salmon operation in Port Angeles, saying the company violated the terms of the lease. Cooke has challenged that decision in Clallam County Superior Court.

SVIAC January Newsletter

We are pleased to be able to provide you access to the January 2018 newsletter for the Southern Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition (SVIAC). The newsletter provides extensive and excellent coverage on some of the important issues facing local anglers.

…there is a greater than usual need to lobby for our salmon fisheries this year. The more members we have, the stronger our voice, thus giving us greater credibility with politicians and at fisheries management decision-making tables.

Please consider supporting SVIAC by becoming a member in 2018.