Proposed Oceans Act Amendments

In Ottawa, June 15th saw the introduction of Bill C-55‘s proposed amendments to the Oceans Act, and complementary amendments to the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act.

The changes proposed in this Bill are aimed at facilitating the marine protected areas (MPAs) designation process without sacrificing sound science or the public’s opportunity to provide input.

The major improvements to the Acts are the ability to “freeze the footprint” of activity for a set time period in an area under consideration for protection; and when an area is designated as protected, the ability to cancel encompassed oil and gas interests while accepting the potential need to compensate the owners of those interests.

Conservation-minded groups in general see these proposed amendments as a good first step toward more effective protection of our marine environment than we have today.

Recreational Salmon fishing in Skeena River watershed closed

With this Fishery Notice, the DFO has closed recreational salmon fishing in the entire Skeena River watershed until July 14, 2017. The low abundance of returning sockeye is stated as the cause. First Nations harvesting will be redirected from sockeye to chinook.

This news has been reported on the Houston Today website and on the CBC website.

The Skeena River sockeye run is one of B.C.’s largest, second only to runs on the Fraser River. Many in the area rely on work in commercial or recreational fishing and First Nations have used the sockeye as a food and ceremonial fishery for thousands of years.

The closure has prompted the BC Wildlife Federation to encourage its members to send a letter of protest to the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc’s ministry office.

Jim Glaicar, president of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, calls the move unreasonable. Glaicar said, “The Minister must manage the interests of all Canadians, based on open, transparent and science-based decision making. It is not appropriate management to suddenly change the percentage of fish that has been historically available to recreational fishers.”

DFO makes it clear: no cuts as previously announced

From the Office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, an email was sent by Ashraf Amlani, Special Assistant – Pacific and West Coast, in which it was made very clear that previously announced program cuts will not occur.

Let me reassure you that that there will be no reduction in CCG presence in inland waterways, that the dive team will remain at the Sea Island base, and that all elements of the Salmonid Enhancement Program will continue. This includes the continuation of the educational and technical contracts, the Resource Restoration Unit, and the hatchery production of steelhead and cutthroat trout.

Thank you, Minister!

DFO Restores Resources to Salmonid Enhancement Program

News reports (and here) have said that the DFO has restored earlier announced cuts to the Salmonid Enhancement Program.

“There will be no reductions to the Salmonid Enhancement Program: all these programs will continue. This includes the educational and technical contracts that support Stream to Sea and Salmonids in the Classroom, the SEP Resource Restoration Unit, and the hatchery production of Steelhead and Cutthroat trout,” said Vance Chow, spokesperson for DFO.

Webinar June 20, 2017 on Management Measures on Prey Availability Related to Killer Whale Recovery

If you fish the salt water and target chinook or chum salmon, you should be interested in participating in this webinar.

DFO would like to invite you to participate in a webinar from 10:30–12:00 PST on June 20, 2017 regarding management measures on prey availability resulting from the Review of the Effectiveness of Recovery Measures for Southern Resident Killer Whale. If you are interested in participating in this session, please respond by email at: by June 18, 2017. You may also register for this webinar at the following link:

The full fisheries notice is posted here.

B.C.’s Family Fishing Weekend June 16, 17 and 18, 2017

Now’s the time to get out those family members and friends who never buy a fishing license, but often say they’d love to go fishing. The barrier to participation is as low as it can get this coming weekend. See this news release from DFO for full details.

Get together with family and friends to celebrate the great tradition of sport fishing!

During B.C.’s annual Family Fishing Weekend (June 16, 17 and 18), Canadian residents can go fishing in B.C. at no cost. We’re offering British Columbians an opportunity to fish without a licence for Father’s Day weekend (see exceptions below).

All area closures, fishing limits and restrictions apply. See the B.C. Sport Fishing Guide for details. Please learn about when and where you can fish and do your part to conserve and protect B.C. fisheries.

The B.C. Government also offers a complimentary three-day basic freshwater licence valid only for Father’s Day weekend.

The exceptions noted translate to:

  • get a complimentary salt water license for the 3 days to fish for halibut in any tidal waters, and for lingcod in Areas 12 to 19 (excluding Subarea 12-14), and Subareas 20-5 to 20-7 and 29-5.
  • get a complimentary salt water license for the 3 days but also pay for a salmon enhancement stamp to fish for salmon in any tidal waters.

As noted in the excerpt above, all other rules apply, so while there may be more people fishing, it’s not a free for all!

Mapping Tidal Waters Recreational Fishing Activity in BC

DFO has engaged the SFI to collect information regarding the “where and when” of sports fishing activity in BC tidal waters. This information combined with mapping can then be used to inform upcoming meetings regarding Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and the Oceans Protection Plan (OPP).

If you’re willing to contribute your knowledge, the SFI is seeking volunteers for input. You may provide your knowledge and insights online or in-person, at the cost to you of about an hour. Please contact the SFI at or 250.591.0734 to schedule a discussion about the Pacific Fisheries Management Area(s) with which you are familiar.