Responding to dry conditions, the Government of B.C. announced a Level 4 drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, last week.
The government also took the additional action of suspending angling in streams and rivers throughout southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands due to ongoing low stream flows and warming water temperatures.
But the local sportsfishing service industry is concerned that anglers will be confused about where the fishing ban begins.
They note the ban applies to the Oyster River and river courses south from there. The Campbell and the Quinsam rivers are still open.
“The Quinsam currently has sufficient water refuges to adequately protect fish, even with normal angling pressure,” said Greig Bethel, spokersperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. “The Campbell River is also not currently closed, nor are other rivers in management unit 1-10. As with the Quinsam, the Campbell River is not at the same level of risk (as rivers further south).”
At Level 4, conditions are extremely dry. Further declines in stream, lake and aquifer levels could lead to water shortages and affect people, industry such as agriculture, wildlife, and fish stocks.
All water users are urged to maximize their water conservation efforts.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said, “As we experience warmer and drier weather, it is important that we are able to react quickly to protect vulnerable fish stocks.
“That is what we’ve done today, and what we will continue to do in future, as conditions warrant.”
Effective July 4, virtually all angling in streams and rivers in Wildlife Management Units 1-1 through 1-6 is suspended.
The closure has been put in place to protect fish stocks at a time when they are vulnerable due to low flows and high water temperatures.
The geographic area covers Bamfield south to Victoria on the west coast, and south of the Campbell River to Victoria on the east coast. Key rivers affected by the order include the Caycuse, Chemainus, Cowichan, Englishman, Gordon, Little Qualicum, Nanaimo, Nitinat, Oyster, Puntledge, San Juan, Sooke, Trent and Tsable.
The Qualicum (known as “Big Qualicum”) is also exempt from the closure. On this stream fishing can continue as normal.
Like the Quinsam and the Campbell, the Qualicum has sufficient water refuges to adequately protect fish, even with normal angling pressure.
The angling closure order is for southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands only, but B.C. government fisheries biologists are monitoring approximately 75 other key angling streams across the province, and if conditions warrant, additional closures are possible.
Lake fishing is not affected by the order.
Angling closures are enabled through the British Columbia Sport Fishing Regulations of the federal Fisheries Act.