Even though I would put the odds of reopening the April 1st through July 15th Chinook non retention policy locally at very low, there are some changes in science, personnel, and Chinook abundance that may affect this policy. Knowing that Chinook abundance as possible Orca food supply is 4 to 6 times higher in The Salish Sea than Northern waters was a revelation that may change thinking surrounding their current status. We now have a Fisheries Minister from British Columbia, Joyce Murray, who should have a more “on the ground” relationship with our local fishery. She has, historically, been involved in getting the open net pens removed from the ocean for farm fish, and moved into inland tank systems. It will be interesting to find out her relationship and policy regarding the sport fishery. In talking to staff from the local salmon head hatchery recovery program, it seems that Chinook stocks were dramatically higher this year. Maybe, just maybe, these three things will add some weight to reopening our spring fishery, which would be fantastic, if even only for hatchery Chinook.
D.F.O. is planning a commercial food and bait fishery in Area 29-5 (Thrasher Rock) in November, with 2,100 metric tons being taken by the seiners. This will be a direct assault on our LOCAL herring. D.F.O. has never done a good stock assessment of our Salish Sea herring. Many indigenous herring populations have literally been decimated by over fishing. Their continuing justification for the commercial fishery is that they only take 20% of the complete biomass in March when the West Coast Vancouver Island stocks intermingle with our local stocks. Do you think a seine or gillnet differentiates between Salish Sea and West Coast herring? D.F.O. does not, and never has had, any idea of of the consequences it is creating with our local herring. This time, they know they are local stocks, and are still pursuing this madness. 80 to 90 per cent of the local Chinook diet is herring. They claim to be worried about the health of the Chinook. Why would you decimate their food supply? These herring will probably fetch about a dollar a pound for the commercial fishermen. Please email James Meldrum at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let him know what you think of this insane proposal.
The weather has not been conducive to fishing this week. Hope to get out soon!