Here is a rebuttal I received from DFO for my first letter concerning the ongoing Area 8 openings. I should point out that the same response was sent to all those who chose to write a letter with their concern. It speaks to the “small” increase in fishing boat pressure but still has the commercial footprint for 2013 in and around the average for the 2000’s. The issue however was that a huge surge in gill net/ seine fishing pressure happened at a critical time for non-target species migration (pink, coho, steelhead). Also it was quickly becoming evident that targeting a surplus of hatchery Bella Coola River chums was drastically impacting other chum stocks, namely Kimsquit and Dean.
A few things to help you understand this post…
– Dean Channel is only considered the last portion of an extremely long channel.
– Please note that release of steelhead means post gill net.
– Revival tanks must be on board but no requirement to use.
– Weedlines are a conservation tactic used by commercial fisherman to try and avoid surface swimming steelhead by hanging their net 100 cm down from the surface.
Danny Wagner, DFO, Bella Coola.
There has been 11 gillnet and 8 seine openings in Fisher/Fitz Hugh so far this year. The average fleet size is 55 gillnets and 6 seines with a low /high of 12 / 75 gn and 3 / 13 seine. This represences a bit above average effort for gillnets and low effort levels for seines compared to past fisheries in the 2000s. In Dean Channel there have only been 12 gill net vessel fishing days all year ( one day there was 5 vessels fishing otherwise just 1 or 2 in an opening) and few of these were complete days because better fishing particularly in the Bella Coola Gill Net caused them to move. The limited fishing for Fraser and Skeena stocks has not resulted in a large increase in effort in Area 8.
Restrictions in place to reduce impacts on steelhead include: mandatory release of Steelhead, all vessel must be equipped with a revival box, day light only fisheries and all gill nets in Dean Channel and the north half of Fisher Channel be equipped with a minimum 100 cm deep weed line until August 15.
The commercial fishery remained closed this week. Future fisheries are undetermined at this time but would include an extension to the weedline restriction.“
NEXT UP: 2013 Openings and understanding Area 8.