Local SFAC Meeting Nov 22, 7 pm: Orcas and fisheries on agenda

The southern resident killer whale populations are not recovering their numbers. This is being blamed on a lack of fish on which they primarily feed, especially chinook salmon. As a result, calls are being heard for closures on related fisheries.

This is an important issue. We invite you to attend the local Victoria-based Sport Fishing Advisory Committee (SFAC) meeting on Wednesday, Nov 22 at 7 pm, at the Esquimalt Anglers boat ramp, 1101 Munro St., Esquimalt, where this issue will be discussed.

 

SRKW and their prey

Jeremy Maynard is a fishing guide who lives in Campbell River. He publishes a blog regularly on his website, The Ardent Angler. A recent post titled SRKW and their prey is a great primer on the southern resident killer whale population recovery issue, and the impact it may have on your ability to fish for chinook salmon. A few minutes of reading will bring you up to speed on the history, current state and possible outcomes of this situation. We hope that you’ll become motivated to join us on Wednesday, Nov 22 at 7 pm at the Esquimalt Anglers ramp for a meeting of the local Sport Fishing Advisory Committee.

In case you think this is an issue for someone else to act upon, here’s a bit of what Jeremy has to say (our highlighting):

Recently the federal government hosted a two and a half day symposium in Vancouver to bring together those interested in the SRKW population and with ideas on their recovery. It should be noted that no individuals or organizations from the recreational fishery were invited to participate despite our fishery’s obvious interest in the outcomes. Fortunately several members of the SFAB were able to attend and they came away troubled by the proceedings – the overwhelming feeling by environmental NGO’s, which were well represented, is that chinook fishing in much of southern BC should be ended, period. And in that opinion they likely came away encouraged for this is what Minister Dominic Leblanc had to say. After speaking to his governments legal responsibility under SARA and the moral responsibility on behalf of all Canadians to restore this population he stated “I as minister and my government are prepared to make the tough decisions necessary, including around allocations and fisheries management issues in order to ensure SRKW are able to find sufficient prey for their recovery and to ensure their long term health.” Get the picture now?

Colquitz River Fish Fence: Community Volunteers Work to Save Wild Salmon

Colquitz fish trap being checked
Volunteers check the fish trap while community members look on.

It’s been a tough autumn this year at the Colquitz River fish counting fence. Community volunteers, carrying on the legacy of the Colquitz Salmonid Stewardhip & Education Society, have been tracking the returning salmon – primarily coho – and giving them a boost upstream to preferred spawning grounds. This year, so far, is not looking to be one of the better years.

Recently during ebb tides, water at the fish trap has been down to 1 – 2 inches.  The numbers to Nov 12:

males19
females77
jacks163
cutthroat0
Total259

No confirmed Atlantic salmon, although photos of some suspected Atlantics have been sent to DFO. There have been spans of weeks where no fish were present in the trap.

Contrast this with 2014, when at mid-December, with much rain and flooding conditions, the count looked as follows:

males508
females820
jacks221
cutthroat7
smolt3
chinook1
mortalities4
unknown, seen going round the fence20
Total1584

Another month to go before a proper comparison can be made, but so far the returns are looking grim.

Netted fish at Colquitz River fish trap.
Fish netted to be tracked and placed upstream.
Fish netted at Colquitz River fish trap.
More fish netted at the fish trap.

 

DFO Consultations on expanded use of ticketing for fishery violations

DFO is planning to expand their options for enforcing regulations. They have undertaken to consult with interested parties. Please read all about DFO’s plan and consultation effort here. This issue will be of interest to both commercial and recreational fishers, if not all Canadians.

From a DFO communication sent to the ACS BC:

Both the Contraventions Act and the Fisheries Act allow for tickets to be issued by fishery officers and in some cases Provincial Enforcement Officers, but ticketing is only in place in some regions for identified fisheries regulations. DFO wants to implement a more consistent approach from region to region. As such, we are proposing to introduce ticketing for minor fisheries violations to the following regulations:

  • Pacific Fishery Regulations (PFR);
  • Fishery (General) Regulations (FGR);
  • Atlantic Fishery Regulations (AFR); and
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Regulations (NLFR).

To do so, we will be adding fine schedules to the Contraventions Regulations outlining the fines payable for various minor fisheries offences, for both the commercial and recreational sectors. The fine schedules will be similar to those that are already in place for the Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations and the Ontario Fishery Regulations, with fines ranging from $100—500.

As part at this project, and for the sake of consistency, we will also update the tickets currently issued under the Fisheries Act for violations in the British Columbia Sport Fishing Regulations and move them under the Contraventions Regulations.

Questions that DFO wishes you to consider:

  1. Do the proposed fines and violations make sense to you? Do they seem fair and consistent?
  2. What effect will this ticketing plan have on you and your industry? What are the pros and cons?
  3. Do you think ticketing will be accepted in your region/industry? Why or why not?

Express your opinion by emailing DFO here, or sending postal mail here:

DFO Ticketing Consultation
13th Floor, 200 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6

Public Open House on Wild Salmon Policy: Oct 19 at Harbour Towers

Late notice for a public open house on Thursday, October 19th at the Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites in Victoria.

Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites Victoria
345 Quebec Street, Victoria, BC
October 19, 2017
Drop-in between 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Please show up and voice your concern about the Wild Salmon Policy. The ACS is concerned that it does not deal well with issues related to the urban environment, such as:

  • too much habitat destruction
  • dirty and polluted water
  • too few returning salmon to justify the cost of conservation efforts
  • the overall trend in declining returns in recent years

The ACS seeks enough chinook for all sectors, plus the orcas. The clearest way to achieve this is net penning of chinook in all west coast areas, especially Sooke and Victoria. Canada is now at risk of managing this fishery to collapse.

Consultations are underway on the initial draft 2018-2022 Wild Salmon Policy Implementation Plan – for Consultation (“the draft plan”), which includes an overview of WSP strategies, highlights of progress to date, challenges and lessons learned and sets out wild salmon-related activities under the themes of Assessment Work and Integrated Planning and Program Delivery. These are activities that will be undertaken from 2018-2022 to support the goal and objectives of the WSP and build on best practices and lessons learned over the last 12 years.

The draft plan also reflects some of the many contributions of Indigenous peoples, communities, stewardship groups and other organizations dedicated to salmon and salmon habitat conservation across BC and Yukon.

Fall 2017 consultations mark an important opportunity to engage on this preliminary draft, and will help shape the final document. DFO is seeking feedback on the draft document, on how work being undertaken by many communities and organizations may complement and support activities identified in the draft implementation plan, and on opportunities for future collaborative work.

Future public open houses are scheduled as follows:

Prince Rupert
Crest Hotel Prince Rupert
222 1st Ave West, Prince Rupert, BC
October 24, 2017
Drop-in between 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Nanaimo
Coast Bastion Hotel Nanaimo
11 Bastion Street, Nanaimo, BC
October 24, 2017
Drop-in between 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Smithers
Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge Smithers
3251 Highway16, Smithers, BC
October 25, 2017
Drop-in between 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Campbell River
Thunderbird Hall Campbell River
1400 Weiweikum Rd, Campbell River, BC
October 25, 2017
Drop-in between 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Vancouver
Segal Building, SFU, Vancouver
500 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC
October 30, 2017
Drop-in any time between 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Prince George
Coast Inn of the North Prince George
770 Brunswick Street, Prince George, BC
November 1, 2017
Drop-in between 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Sardis – Fraser Valley
Tzeachten Community Hall Sardis
Promontory Rd, Sardis, BC
November 16, 2017
Drop-in between 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Port Alberni
Tseshaht Administration Building
5091 Tsuma-as Drive, Port Alberni, BC
November 20, 2017
Drop-in between 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Whitehorse
Best Western Gold Rush Inn Whitehorse
411 Main Street, Whitehorse, YK
November 29, 2017
Drop-in between 6:30pm – 8:30pm

A WebEx session is also scheduled for November 9, 2017, 11:00am – 12:00pm for those unable to participate in the sessions listed above. To join the WebEx session, please go here at the scheduled time/date. For an audio connection: 1-877-413-4788, Conference ID: 795 266 4, Conference Password: WSPIP

Loss of 2016 coho production at Big Qualicum hatchery

An email  from David Willis, A/Section Head, Coastal Enhancement Operations, Salmonid Enhancement Program, notified us of this unfortunate incident.

During the windstorm on May 23, 2017  there was a power interruption at Big Qualicum hatchery which resulted in a pump shutdown and water supply interruption ‎to the 2016 brood year coho ponds. Due to a failure in the alarm system  staff were not alerted to this until 0630 the following day when the Watershed Enhancement Manager arrived on site. Virtually all of the 2016 coho production was lost (~5K juveniles remain out of ~400K). This production supported Georgia Strait mark[ed] selective harvest opportunities, a PST [Pacific Salmon Treaty] indicator supplemented by PSC [Pacific Salmon Commission] funding, as well as a research trial funded by the PSF [Pacific Salmon Foundation].

A partial mitigation approach has been identified to offset some of the impacts to marked coho production on East Coast Vancouver Island (ECVI). 50K coho juveniles that were scheduled to be released this week as fry into Comox Lake from Puntledge hatchery will be relocated to Big Qualicum hatchery for rearing and subsequent release back to Puntledge as clipped yearling smolts in spring 2018. A plan is being developed to manage and minimize potential risks associated with this movement, and we are confident that it can be implemented smoothly. Currently there is no smolt program at Puntledge hatchery due to water supply limitations, so this is a net increase of production at Puntledge. This is solely intended to be a one year action to help to partially offset the loss of production at Big Qualicum for the 2019 fishery. In terms of overall Coho production going into the Strait, this is a net decrease of 350K smolts out of a target of 3.9M, so just under 10%, but obviously it is a major loss for the ECVI program.

DFO Real Property engineering staff have worked with the hatchery to identify the exact cause of the mechanical & electronic failure, and have made improvements to infrastructure and systems to ensure that this unfortunate event does not happen again. I should point out that Qualicum hatchery staff responded ‎very professionally and efficiently. No other production groups were affected.

David Willis may be contacted by email with any questions on this topic.

Bocaccio at Risk: Yea or Nay?

DFO is seeking input with respect to whether or not Bocaccio rockfish should be listed as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). They welcome input online, by phone, letter, email, and meetings with respect to whether or not Bocaccio should be listed as Endangered under SARA.

Specifically, we are seeking a statement in support of or against a SARA listing, and any supporting data, Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge, or information that can be shared and would support advice towards a fulsome listing decision.

The online public consultation period will be active September 7 – December 8, 2017 and is available through the Species at Risk Public Registry consultation tool. An online survey in support of the consultations on the Bocaccio listing is now open for comment.

The following documents have been developed to help inform the Department in its advice for the Government of Canada on whether or not to list Bocaccio under SARA. These documents are detailed below, and are available via the links provided.

For your input to be considered in DFO’s advice to the Government of Canada, comments must be received by December 8, 2017. If you or your organization is interested in participating in a webinar or setting up a meeting via phone or in-person, please contact the SARA program at SARA.XPAC@dfo-mpo.gc.ca or 604-666-7907.

Recreational Halibut Fishery Closes Sep 6, 2017 at Midnight

Recently issued DFO fisheries notice FN0899 says

…recreational fishing for halibut under the BC Tidal Waters Sport
Fishing Licence will close effective 23:59 hours September 6, 2017 for the
balance of the year.

One more day to try for a flattie. There is a way for rec anglers to buy quota from the commercial sector; good luck finding quota if you try this route!

Atlantic Salmon Escape from San Juan Fish Farm

Update: Catches of Atlantic salmon escapees are all over the news since this event occurred. Estimates of the number of escaped salmon are now as high as 160,000 – far higher than first guessed!

A reported net failure has enabled the escape of thousands of farmed Atlantic salmon into the waters of the San Juan Islands from a facility operated by BC-based Cooke Aquaculture. News reports here and here provide details.

Ron Warren, Assistant Director of the fish program for Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife said they believe about 4,000 to 5,000 of the 305,000 fish in the Cooke Aquaculture net pen escaped.

The fish are safe to eat and were last medicated with antibiotics in 2016, he added.

Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is calling for anglers to catch as many of the Atlantic salmon as is possible. Nobody is thrilled about the opportunity, as most are concerned about the impact of an exotic species let loose in the wild of our west coast waters.

The image here is courtesy of DFO and may help you identify one of these escapees should you catch one:

Atlantic salmon

Study Assesses Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy: Failure to Execute

A recently published study on Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy reveals some very real concerns.

…monitoring effort has continued to erode, abundance of spawning adults has significantly declined for several species, the status of many salmon Conservation Units are in zones of concern, and 42% of the Conservation Units that we assessed as Red (threatened) would have improved in status had the Canadian fishery been reduced.

The study concludes with five recommendations – and much more detail than is shown in this summary list – to the federal government of Canada and the DFO:

  1. Conduct a strategic planning review of Conservation Units to meet the requirements of the Wild Salmon Policy.
  2. Use a two-step approach to speed up the process for assessing biological status.
  3. Achieve a balance between mixed-stock ocean fisheries and in-river fisheries targeting specific stocks.
  4. Implement the existing WSP immediately.
  5. Create a Wild Salmon Policy fund to ensure implementation.