DFO announced new limits on recreational chinook fishing on Tuesday. File photo

Limits on chinook sport fishing to cause economic ripple effect in Campbell River

DFO says policy needed to prevent collapse of wild stocks, but concerns raised about economic impact

Reactions were mixed in Campbell River following news that anglers can’t keep any chinook salmon caught in area waters until July 15, with a total annual catch limited to 10 per person compared to 30 previously.

When the recreational fishery for the Johnstone Strait and northern Strait of Georgia opens in mid-July, local fishers will be allowed to catch one chinook per day, according to the policy announced by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) on Tuesday.

From Aug. 30 until Dec. 31, the limit is two per day in waters around Campbell River. Two chinook per day was the year-round limit before restrictions implemented last year, according to Jeremy Maynard, a fishing tourism operator.

He said the new measures will deal a significant blow to sports fishing enterprises, tackle stores, hotels and other businesses in fishing destinations like Campbell River.

“The ripple effect’s going to be huge in this community, and in communities all around the inner south coast,” Maynard said.

But the tougher caps are urgently needed to protect wild salmon stocks that are in a long-term state of decline, according to DFO.

“Chinook salmon populations have been in decline for years as a result of a number of factors including habitat destruction, harvest, and the effects of climate change,” DFO said in a media release, adding that a recent study of Fraser River chinook found that 12 of 13 assessed populations were at risk.

READ MORE: Campbell River anglers concerned over possibility of chinook closure

Maynard, who is the chairperson of the Sports Fishing Advisory Board’s chinook and coho working group, said climate change is largely to blame for the decline of wild chinook populations from the interior Fraser River watershed.

But certain chinook populations remains strong, including those on the Cowichan and the Puntledge rivers, he said.

“Even though our impact in the Campbell River area or the Strait of Georgia area is extremely small on the particular stocks of concern, we do encounter some of them,” Maynard said.

“There are some chinook stocks that are doing well but, unfortunately, they’re all mixed up in the ocean,” he said.

Maynard was involved in DFO’s consultations about the new policy.

He said that instead of the new limits, a better policy would be to clip the adipose fins of chinook from hatcheries, allowing fishers to keep fish from populations that aren’t at risk. The adipose fin is located between the dorsal fin and the tail.

But even if that “mass marking” policy were introduced immediately, it would take several years before the clipped fish would be big enough to keep, he said.

READ MORE: Fisheries Department announces conservation measures to protect chinook in B.C.

The non-retention policy means that perhaps 30 per cent of chinook sports fishing packages will be lost at Painter’s Lodge and April Point, according to Patrick Blanch, director of operations for the popular resort.

“I think it’s going to have a significant impact on the community, not just our properties,” Blanch said.

But the changes didn’t come out of the blue and are likely necessary for sustainability, he said.

“Sustainability is something we believe very strongly in, as a group,” he said. “I think it’s for the greater good.”

The company’s marine operations manager was included in talks with DFO ahead of Tuesday’s policy announcement, he said.

Blanch also said he’s confident that opportunities including catch-and-release trips and fishing for other species will still provide an experience “that we believe is unique and unparalleled.”

Local conservationist Sandra Milligan, president of the Greenways Land Trust, said she supports restrictions on chinook fisheries – though she noted that people should look at the big picture, including what she described as a relatively high economic value per fish of recreational chinook compared to the commercial fishery.

She also noted that on the Island’s west coast, the inshore recreational limit is two chinook per day after at-risk chinook stocks have passed through. Milligan also noted that she’s married to a sport fishing guide, and they’re expecting cancellations on fishing cruises to start immediately.

“I obviously would prefer my husband has as many guests out on the water as possible, but I recognize the need for caution,” she said in an email.

Milligan, an instructor at Campbell River’s North Island College campus, also stressed the importance of salmon spawning habitat amid the declining wild stocks.

READ MORE: Campbell River’s urban trees to receive protection

“This emphasizes the need to protect and improve our salmon’s birth place – our own urban streams and the trees that support them,” she said, noting that a tree protection bylaw would be “one of the best ways to ensure our streams continue to produce salmon.”

The City of Campbell River included funding for the development of a tree protection bylaw and the hiring of a full-time arborist in this year’s budget. City staff is currently in the process of hiring the arborist and is looking into options for a bylaw over the summer, according to senior planner Chris Osborne.


@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

The City of Campbell River will purchase an automated external defibrillator (AED) for the Overdose Prevention Site after a letter from a local paramedic pointed out it doesn’t have one. Black Press File Photo
City of Campbell River to buy defibrillator for downtown Overdose Prevention Site

Local paramedic pens letter asking for city’s assistance after trying other avenues to acquire AED

Campbell River RCMP. RCMP photo
Two knife incidents reported on same day in Campbell River

Stabbing and knife fight both occured on May 13

Cash, drugs and weapons were seized by the Street Crimes Unit on May 12. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police recover cash, drugs and weapons after arrest

18-year-old arrested in Willow Point Park for drug trafficking

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read