Keep’n the Dean dilemma current. Management shortfalls and the official response.

November 21, 2013


I received an email the other day about keeping the Dean issue current…. even in depths of winter. I couldn’t agree more. Next year, another cycle of overfishing will polarize area 8 throughout the summer and the responsibility lies with the angling community to be prepared before it starts.

At the bottom is a form letter from Gail Shea, the Federal Minister of Fisheries responding to concerns about the commercial fishery in area 8. Please notice that her explanation of the sustainability of the chum commercial fishery in Area 8 lacks any sort of understanding of the area or of fisheries policy. This is hardly a surprise… her experience…

Prior to her election to the House of Commons, Ms. Shea was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. She was first elected in April 2000 and was appointed to the provincial cabinet as Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs where she was responsible for the Status of Women, the Worker’s Compensation Board and the Island Waste Management Corporation. From 2002 to 2007, Ms. Shea served as Minister of Transportation and Public Works.”

In the letter, the ultimate justification for the massive openings in area 8 were the excess hatchery fish. However the fishery from area 8-1 to 8-8 also targeted small, threatened completely wild chum stocks that would have been largely avoided had the commercial fishery just been moved into Labouchere Channel (starting at 8-10) passed the turn off into Dean Channel (8-8).


This is the real issue with commercial fisheries in this province. The commercial sector is meant to fish in times of surplus while trying to maintain the #1 DFO mandate…. fish conservation. This can only be maintained in a commercial fishery by fishing closer to the source.

I heard it equated to a police officer looking for a bad guy. He knows he must shoot to kill. He knows the bad guys room is at the end of the hall. Instead of waiting for the man to motion for the door at the end of the hall, he shoots every person that enters the hallway.

If you know the fish in excess are Bella Coola chum it makes sense to fish adjacent to the the Bella Coola and not 100 kilometers away, no?

….letter from Gail Shea…

Thank you for your correspondence of August 2 and 13, 2013, regarding your concerns about commercial salmon fisheries and the bycatch of steelhead in Dean Channel.

For salmon management, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is guided by Canada’s Policy for Conservation of Wild Pacific Salmon for the protection, preservation and rebuilding of wild salmon and their marine and freshwater ecosystems for the benefit of all Canadians.

DFO carefully designs fisheries plans to avoid or minimize impacts on weaker stocks while providing benefits to Canadians through the sustainable harvest of more abundant salmon stocks.  Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMPs) for salmon are prepared each year to identify fishing opportunities and constraints for the coming season based on DFO scientific analysis of environmental conditions and stock assessment.

The Department adopts a cautious approach to harvesting opportunities to ensure that conservation objectives are met.  The Salmon Northern B.C. IFMP contains information on conservation objectives and decision rules for managing fisheries under variable abundance levels, and provides clarity on how the Allocation Policy for Pacific Salmon is applied.  The Salmon Northern B.C. IFMP is available online at < >.

The Department’s precautionary management approach of limiting commercial, recreational and First Nation salmon harvests is designed to not only conserve salmon stocks in British Columbia, but also to support the process of rebuilding them.  Fisheries are managed to provide sufficient numbers of salmon to spawn in our rivers and to sustain them for the future.

For steelhead, the Department works with the Province of British Columbia to manage steelhead under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU); the current approach for managing fisheries that impact steelhead was developed jointly by DFO and the Province.  The Department’s management approach, based on the objectives of the MOU, is to minimize the impact on steelhead during Canadian fisheries directed at more abundant salmon populations.

In 2013, the chum gillnet fishery was targeting strong returns of Bella Coola chum in Area 8 and averaged two days of fishing per week for the months of July and August.  This activity level is below the historic average fishing pattern.  The Dean Channel gillnet fishery effort was less than 10 percent of the historical average, and the Area 8 seine fishing effort was also less than 10 percent of the historical average.

These fishery opportunities provide significant economic opportunities to the Bella Coola, Hagensborg and Shearwater communities, as well as to the Heiltsuk and Nuxalk First Nations, while meeting conservation objectives.

No conservation problems for steelhead have been identified; however, significant management measures are in place to reduce harm to steelhead in these fisheries.  I have attached an appendix for your interest.

Also, the Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB) has been advising DFO on recreational fishery issues for nearly 50 years.  The SFAB represents recreational fishing interests on the Integrated Harvest Planning Committee (IHPC), which advises the Minister on fishing plans.  The final IFMP reflects the input of the IHPC, including the perspective of the SFAB.

Local stakeholders are encouraged to provide their input to local Sport Fishing Advisory Committees (SFACs), which are located throughout the province.  DFO will be holding meetings with the SFACs over the next few months to review the Department’s current fishing plans and to make improvements for next year.  I encourage your input and participation to this process.  To become involved in this process, please contact the local SFAC in your area.  For more information, please visit the Department’s website at < >.

Thank you for sharing your concerns about this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Original Signed by

Gail Shea, P.C., M.P.
Ministerial Correspondence Control Unit / Unité de contrôle de la correspondance ministérielle
Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Pêche et Océans Canada
200 Kent Street, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0E6 / 200, rue Kent, Ottawa (ON) K1A 0E6
Telephone / Téléphone  613-992-3474
Facsimile / Télécopieur 613-990-7292
Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada



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