The Fraser River is the longest river within British Columbia flowing for 1,375 kilometres (854 mi), into the Strait of Georgia and Vancouver city
New fisheries management measures seek to stop chinook decline
Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The Government of Canada has announced new fisheries management measures to support the recovery of at risk Fraser River chinook populations and protecting the jobs and communities that depend on chinook survival.
These measures were developed following consultation with Indigenous communities, recreational and commercial fishing organizations and environmental organizations, and are one component of a larger strategy intended to place at risk Pacific salmon populations on a path towards sustainability.
Frazer River location
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. Of the thirteen wild Fraser River chinook salmon populations assessed, only one is not at risk.
The loss of these chinook populations would be disastrous not just for wildlife that depend on them as a food source, but also for the many BC communities whose jobs and ways of life depend on chinook salmon. That’s why the Government of Canada has taken, and is taking, urgent and concrete actions to ensure that at-risk chinook salmon are protected for future generations.
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Fisheries management measures for the 2019 fishing season will include:
- Commercial fishing: Commercial troll fisheries for chinook will be closed until August 20 in Northern BC, and August 1 on the West Coast of Vancouver Island to avoid impacting Fraser chinook stocks and to support conservation priorities.
- Recreational fishing: The 2019 management measures for recreational fisheries where at risk chinook stocks may be encountered are designed to maximize returns of these at risk chinook to their spawning grounds. These measures include the non-retention of chinook until midsummer in several areas, namely the west coast of Vancouver Island, the northern and southern Strait of Georgia, the Johnstone Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Afterwards, anglers are allowed to retain one or two chinook a day until the end of the year, depending on the region.
- First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries: these fisheries, which have a constitutionally protected priority, will not commence until July 15 – concurrent with the opening of the recreational retention fishery.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) recognises that these new measures are difficult, but they are necessary to address Fraser River chinook decline. A continued decline would irrevocably harm species that depend on the survival of chinook salmon, such as the Southern Resident killer whale. In addition, it would permanently affect the culture, heritage and livelihoods of Indigenous communities and permanently eliminate many jobs in the recreational and commercial fishing industries.
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These measures are part of a comprehensive approach to restoring the health of wild salmon stocks. Other key elements of this comprehensive approach include:
- Habitat protection – the proposed Fisheries Act, - if passed would restore lost protections to our waterways and specifically to fish habitat.
- Habitat restoration – the Government of Canada, in collaboration with the Government of BC, recently announced the establishment of the CAD 142M British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund. As well, the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk, provides CAD 55 million fund over five years to support projects that help recover aquatic species at risk; the Fraser Watershed is one area identified for priority action.
- Science – the Government of Canada is making significant investments in science to enhance fish stock assessments and to adapt to the impacts of climate change. This includes an additional CAD 107 million to support the implementation of the Fish Stocks provisions of the proposed Fisheries Act. These resources, committed in the Fall Economic Statement, will increase scientific capacity for stock assessment of Canada’s fish stocks, including Pacific salmon stock assessments.
- Predation – DFO, in partnership with research partners in Canada and the U.S., is convening a forum to discuss and assess scientific evidence relating to population dynamics of seals and sea lions, their diet and their impacts
According to the Government of Canada, the measures announced yesterday highlight its commitment to working collaboratively to ensure the sustainability of chinook stocks as a means by which to ensure the health of the country's ecosystems and the long term prosperity of Indigenous and coastal communities.