Tourism coalition pushing for Skeena chinook fishery

Tourism coalition pushing for Skeena chinook fishery

Recreational catch and release creates lowest impact, highest value: report

A group of Northwest tourism providers, business owners and recreational freshwater anglers are appealing to Ottawa for the immediate opening of a catch-and-release recreational chinook fishery on the Skeena.

The group argues while the Skeena chinook harvest is allowed on a limited basis in other sectors, the in-river fishery remains closed despite its claim to have the lowest exploitation rates and the highest per-fish economic value.

“Compared to the marine environment the river angler is far less productive. Regardless if bar fishing from the bank, or on fly-fishing guided trip, we typically catch just one fish for every three days,” said Brian Niska, vice president of Kermode Tourism.

“There was a time when the goal was for every person to get their limit, and that’s just not the case anymore. As we move toward sustainability of limiting our impact it makes good business [to open the fishery].”

On May 8, DFO shut down all recreational salmon fishing in northern tidal and freshwater fisheries. Then on May 30, DFO allowed for limited marine sports chinook fisheries with a precautionary 25-30 per cent reduction in exploitation rates.

READ MORE: Sweeping salmon closures for recreational fishing

With catch-and-release on the Skeena River, as proposed by the Lower Skeena Sport Fishing Advisory Committee, the group says exploitation could be kept below one per cent to meet conservation goals, while still maintaining all the social and economic benefits of an open fishery.

“That’s the kick in the teeth for everyone involved in this,” Niska says. “It’s the river fishery that’s got the lowest impact to begin with. But in the marine environment, the way they sell it is with pictures of a bunch of fish on a scale: if you come here you can leave with a box of fish.”

With an estimated mortality of rate of one in 10, 2016 data compiled by Big River Analytics suggests each chinook caught and released generated about $35,000 in the Skeena angling tourism sector. Overall the report pins the annual domestic output of guided salmon fishing in the Terrace and Kitimat areas at $16.5 million. Chinook alone are responsible for $3.92 million, creating 53 jobs annually, according to the report.

The group signed an open letter to the minister of fisheries and oceans, Dominic LeBlanc, framing their argument with DFO’s own Allocation Policy Document. It states once conservation and First Nations needs are met, anglers should be given priority access. The document recognizes chinook as one of the mainstays of the recreational fishery and a major contributor to the tourism industry. It is therefore the best economic use of the resource, the DFO report reads.

“With this policy document in mind, please consider that the commercial troll fishery that is set to open on July 10th will harvest an estimate of 400 Skeena Chinook Salmon, yet the entire in-river fishery remains completely closed to recreational angling,” the group’s letter reads.

The minister’s office has not yet replied to the letter.

In an email to the Terrace Standard a spokesperson for LeBlanc said the ministry will review the group’s proposal and is committed to making science-based decisions on fisheries management.

“DFO consults regularly with stakeholders on all fish management decisions, and we welcome suggestions from our stakeholders and industry partners on the best way to promote a sustainable fishery that at the same time ensures the protection of the Chinook salmon,” he said. “We will analyze the proposal and will continue to work with stakeholders in this fishing season and the ones in the future.”

READ MORE: Feds announce measures to protect endangered whale species

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross signed his name to the letter and wrote to Doug Donaldson, B.C.’s minister of forests, lands and natural resources, asking for provincial support, saying it is possible to reduce harvest numbers and still allow a fishery. DFO data on five-year averages show marine recreational fisheries accounted for 20 to 25 per cent of the Skeena-bound Chinook harvested, while the in-river fishery accounted for just seven per cent, or roughly one third. Ross, along with the group, says the sector could bring that number down to less than one per cent to meet conservation goals.

“A lack of opportunity will have a ripple effect on our entire regional economy,” Ross said in a press release. “Many local jobs depend on the activity generated by local outfitters and the visitors who come here from all over the world just to have the chance to catch a fish.”


 


quinn@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

An earlier version of this story quoted Brian Niska saying “All we do is fly fishing” while speaking on behalf of the industry. He was in fact speaking only about his employer. Niska was contacted again for clarification and that quote has now been replaced.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Tourism coalition pushing for Skeena chinook fishery

Just Posted

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

Kieran Christison, manager of Daybreak Farms in Terrace inspects eggs on Oct. 30, 2020. Christison wants to transition to a zero waste, cage-free facility. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Daybreak Farms aiming to achieve zero-waste, cage-free facility

Kieran Christison, manager, presented the farm’s future plans to Terrace city council

Mercedes Trigo, assistant manager, said that Trigo’s Lifestyle Store in Terrace has experienced four broken windows and an attempted break-in recently, leaving her feeling unsupported by bystanders and the police. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Trigo’s management frustrated by property damage, theft

In a little over a month there have been four broken windows and an attempted break-in at the store

Two RCMP officers have been recognized for their actions in responding to an incident involving a man with a weapon at 4501 Park Ave. on the afternoon of April 27, 2020. RCMP say it was an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public. (Jake Wray photo)
Terrace RCMP officers recognized for acts of bravery

Two involved in arrest of armed suspect

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read