RDG, Pacific Region
Dear Ms Farlinger,
Now that Skeena sockeye return has passed the threshold required for escapement and FSC needs, there will no doubt be pressure from commercial industry lobbyists for openings to harvest the surplus.
Our Alliance would like to urge caution on your behalf in not rushing to open any marine fishery just yet. This caution should be primarily due to the inherent uncertainty in the reliability of the Tyee Test Fishery. As the attached graph shows the Tyee Test Fishery does have a tendency to over-estimate sockeye returns. This alone should be enough to warrant a very cautious approach.
Secondly, the mid to late August timeframe is a peak period of migration for the very valuable Skeena summer run steelhead. The attachment show the run timing. Any marine non-selective commercial fisheries taking place now could inflict significant damage on this valuable resource. And whether your Department asserts there is no conservation concern or not with the Skeena steelhead, wastefully removing fish from this return harms both the fish themselves and the upriver sport fishing tourism economy that depends on them. The root word of ‘conservation’ is ‘conserve…i.e not to waste.
Our Alliance would suggest that if harvest of this late arriving Skeena sockeye return is to be contemplated then more selective harvest techniques should be utilised. Either mid-river or terminal fishing at the Babine weir should be used and no consideration should be given to the harmful non-selective marine gillnetting technique.
By reviewing the Table below, you can see that the gillnetting sector has had more than enough fishery opportunity this season on the north coast with almost half the approximately 100 commercial openings being gillnet openings. This despite your own Selective Fishing Policy stating preference should be given to more selective techniques.
And lastly, it would be the height of arrogance on behalf of your Department to allow Skeena gillnet openings to occur using the very same gillnetters who have just participated in decimating the Dean river steelhead return. Allowing them to return north and now decimate Skeena steelhead is just unfathomable to us and would be a complete abrogation of your Department’s responsibilities.
Thank you for considering these ideas that we feel reflect fair treatment of all sectors.
13 Nisga’a Individual Sales Openings
27 gillnet openings
13 seine openings
1 gillnet opening
7 gillnet openings
-up to 18? gn openings
-10? seine openings
(53 gillnet openings and about 94 openings on the north/central coast so far this year)
North Coast Steelhead Alliance