Monthly archives: February, 2018

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.