Sports fishers are resisting the 50 per cent cut in the daily limit for North Coast prawns, as well as a reduction in the daily clam size and catch limit proposed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
“The local committee didn’t support a reduction of the daily limits for prawns from 200 per day to 100 as there is no conservation issue in the north and accessing prawns on Haida Gwaii, for example, involves a lot of time and expenditures,” said Urs Thomas, North Coast SFAC Chair, said in his email to The Northern View.
The local Sport Fishing Advisory Committees (SFAC) met over the Mar. 24 weekend in Prince Rupert to table motions regarding the clam and prawn management proposals from DFO, which will affect the recreational fishery in B.C. coastal waters.
The same issue had been previously discussed at the local Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB) and main board meetings in Vancouver on Feb. 7 – 9. The SFAC also met in Queen Charlotte in Mar. 18 regarding the proposed management amendments.
Management amendments tabled before the SFAC committed meeting include a bait ban on the Skeena River and a reduction in the daily and possession limits of spot prawns/shrimp from 200 to 100, as well as a size limit reduction of daily and possession limits of manila, littleneck or butter clams.
The SFAB and the SFAC both rejected DFO’s proposals at those times.
The North Coast SFAC members continue to resist the proposed reductions. Back in Dec. 2018, DFO had sent the motion to reduce the catch limit to the SFAB in order for the SFAC to re-visit the issues, which they did at the recent meeting in Prince Rupert. But now the local sports fishery committee is taking this issue to Vancouver, where they will discuss the prawn and clam reductions at the SFAB board meeting on Apr. 4-6.
“It is important to remember that the DFO is not proposing a cut in the quota or total catch limit but a cut on the daily harvest limit, and if someone wants to catch more, they can go out another day,” said Jeff Johansen, DFO’s regional resource manager for invertebrates.
DFO consulted with various committees and the SFAB for four years before proposing this year’s limits. The proposed changes, he said, are to bring the harvest limits in line with current conditions.
“There has not been a limit change since 1996 and since then there has been an increased interest in prawns,” Johansen said. “Fishers have also become more efficient in catching prawns with the use of power haulers and sonar to locate the best fishing sites.”
The DFO and the SFAB are due to meet again in April to discuss some options and the feedback received from the various local committees.