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Home / Fishing Articles / Sport Fishing Institute Update: The Election Question

Sport Fishing Institute Update: The Election Question

Check out the full update from the Sport Fishing Institute of BC. To get these updates sent directly to your inbox head over to their website, scroll the bottom of the home page and enter in your email address there.

Less than a month to head to the polls. Our BC fish and fishery issues must be introduced and reiterated where possible both leading up to the election and following.

Marked Selective Fisheries

Many challenges faced yet a clear path to stable, reliable opportunity

We are now in full election mode and many issues are competing for the attention of voters and candidates. Asking key fish and fishery questions during the coming weeks is critical to keep our issues being discussed and considered by politicians and the public alike. There is no doubt that the outcome of this election will play a key role in the future of our fishery.

Coastwide Chinook Fishing and Returns

It has been falsely claimed that Chinook salmon as a species are either endangered or at risk of extinction in Canada. This is simply not true. Those that try to argue this are badly misinformed or are blatantly trying to misinform the public for questionable motives. Not only is the claim inaccurate, it is extremely damaging to BC’s reputation and the public understanding of what is happening on our coast and river systems. Many BC Chinook runs this year are either way above average or even at historic highs, as evidenced by what was seen in tidal waters this summer and in the huge returns many of our rivers have experienced this fall.

There are Chinook stocks of concern in the mid to upper Fraser River and on the Skeena River that are in serious decline. These stocks deserve attention and defined plans to aid in restoration of their habitat and enhancement. It is these Chinook stocks that are affecting access to much more abundant Chinook runs that are available all over the Pacific coast.

Marked Selective Fisheries – A Simple Solution 

Is there a way to protect and consider the Chinook stocks of concern while still allowing opportunity to fish for abundant stocks? Yes, there is a solution! Anglers can fish selectively. Before removing a fish from the water it can easily be determined if a Chinook is wild, and therefore potentially from a stock of concern, or is produced for harvest in a government or volunteer hatchery system. Canada produces over 35 million hatchery Chinook every year and in Washington State the number is more than 150 million. These hatchery produced Chinook salmon are intended to provide fisheries all along our coast and river systems. Unfortunately, in Canada only about 10% of these fish are “marked” by the removal of the adipose fin, a small fin on the back between the dorsal fin and tail. When circumstances require it, a fishery that retains only these marked Chinook while releasing all wild Chinook would protect stocks of concern. And, marking 100% of the fish Canada already produces will properly identify the abundance of hatchery fish and would provide a dramatic increase in harvest opportunity in many areas of the coast. This is particularly the case in areas hit hard by Chinook restrictions in 2019. This is without producing any more hatchery Chinook than we currently do!

So, mark all hatchery Chinook (mass marking), provide marked hatchery fish only fisheries for the public which moves harvest away from stocks of concern, and embark on intensive habitat protection and strategic enhancement to rebuild troubled stocks. Its not rocket science but does cost money and requires a genuine spirit of sharing amongst all Canadians. Adjusting the public fishery to harvest marked Chinook is not hard and is only limited by the political will to make it happen.

We urge all SFI members to make candidates understand that the public fishery is important to you and your community. Get out there, ask about Marked Selective Fisheries and other fishery questions too. Make sure local politicians understand that the public fishery is important to their riding, that their feedback on these important issues is vitally important, and that their responses will be held to account following the election.

Wild First – Candidate Pledge Tracker

One week ago, Wild First announced and launched an election time campaign in pursuit of greater protections for wild Pacific salmon: the B.C. Candidate Pledge Tracker. In that short time, 39 BC candidates have signed the pledge so far.

We encourage you to check on the status of the Candidate Pledge Tracker, it is updated daily, and to urge all candidates to sign the pledge.

Annual Policy Conference and Big Splash Fundraiser – November 15

Tickets to our Annual Policy Conference and Big Splash Fundraiser are on sale now.

Buy your tickets early and be entered to win 2 tickets to a Vancouver Canucks game on November 14th, the evening before the Conference and Splash. More details to follow about both events.

We look forward to seeing you on November 15th for our Annual Policy Conference, the 2019 theme is Striving for Certainty and Stability, and the Big Splash Gala and Fundraiser is at the Vancouver Convention Centre – West.

Until next time, tight lines,
The SFI Team