Commercial catch upsets Skeena fish group

Late run sockeye called fragile and needed for spawning

A local fish conservation authority is upset federal officials opened a coastal commercial fishery for sockeye salmon, a move which it says goes against previous decisions.

On Aug. 23 and Aug. 24, a fishery was opened for gillnetters at the mouth of the Skeena in response to an influx in sockeye numbers that pushed the total return for this summer past the one million mark, approximately one-third of the expected number and minimum for a commercial opening.

Because the influx or “bump” happened late in August when the sockeye typically slows, Gitanyow Fisheries Authority head biologist and Skeena Fisheries Commission advisor Mark Cleveland says the commercial fishery shouldn’t have opened at all according to a conservation strategy created earlier this year.

He said the previous federal plan contained provisions about holding off on the commercial harvest of late intake sockeye. “It’s basically a short term economic gain decision to benefit a few commercial fisherman and we think those actions are going to have long term impacts on salmon stocks,” said Cleveland.

“A lot of taxpayers’ money went into insuring that all the players were at the table and we talked about these things during integrated harvest planning sessions and for them to just throw that away makes a mockery of the whole process.”

One reason late run sockeye needs to be conserved is because of the by-catch – the term meaning one species being caught by chance when another is the actual harvest target.

Late-run sockeye tend to be fragile, highlighting the importance of the trip to their spawning beds to ensure there are future generations.

“We decided in the pre-season to put measures in place to ensure that stocks of concern, specifically Kitwanga sockeye, Lake Babine river sockeye, chum stock, steelhead stocks, would be protected. And that there wouldn’t be any late season openings, and the minister signed off on that in the integrated fisheries management plan,” said Cleveland.

But according to federal fisheries officials, the surge in sockeye was a legitimate reason to allow a fishery.

“The Skeena River sockeye run size is estimated at 1.16 million and growing. Timing of this run is late; most years this run is over by mid-to-late-August,” said Michelle Imbeau from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans last week.

“This unusual run timing led to a change in the planned harvest method to ensure that commercial fishing would be carefully controlled and monitored to ensure careful management of the returning stocks,” she said. The permitted recreational catch was also raised from one, set in July, to two because of the late entry for the sockeye, said Imbeau.

For Cleveland, who looks after the fisheries upstream where the First Nations and recreational fisheries happen, there is a need to keep the annual return strong and not have the spawning salmon subject to a commercial fishery.

“If the bump had come three weeks earlier then the fishing would be okay,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Footwork and fundamentals: minor basketball classes return to Prince Rupert

The next generation of basketball talent is getting started on the game’s keys to success

Uncertain future for KAPS location and rent as McKay housing gets redeveloped

Affordable housing units in Prince Rupert to be revitalized by BC Housing

New museum exhibit in Prince Rupert to highlight nature’s influence on technology

Travelling exhibit made possible through federal funding via Museums Assistance Program

Rampage ready for new CIHL season

Puck drops Saturday at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre

STORY, PHOTOS & VIDEO: Brand new wrestling mats on display at Charles Hays

Team no longer has to grapple with hard surfacing and soreness thanks to generous donations

VIDEO: What does PRMS want? Climate action. When do they want it? Now.

Kids in Prince Rupert march to city hall in support of Fridays for Future, a global climate protest

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Canada continues to win at world indoor lacrosse championships in B.C.

Results of the action from day two of the 2019 World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor World Championship

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Singh campaigns in Toronto, May in Winnipeg, as Liberal and Tory leaders pause

All parties expected to be back on the campaign trail Sunday

Possible Canadian cases of vaping illnesses being investigated: health officer

‘I think that will be really important to address the overall trend of youth vaping’

Area 51 events mostly peaceful; thousands in Nevada desert

Three more people were arrested Friday on the remote once-secret military base

Most Read