Six conservation groups representing the Marine Conservation Caucus (MCC) are calling on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to act on their own acknowledgement that river conditions for spawning salmon are unprecedented and reduced mixed stock marine fisheries are needed to protect returning salmon. The record low flows and high temperatures expected in many BC rivers are difficult, if not lethal, for migrating salmon.
“DFO has acknowledged the extreme conditions spawning salmon face, but they are failing to act on the necessary protection salmon require,” said the MCC’s Greg Taylor. “While the BC government has closed many streams to recreational fishing, DFO has not protected returning fish by curtailing marine fisheries. The majority of the recreational and commercial harvest occurs in the marine area.”
The MCC requested that these adverse environmental conditions be incorporated into this year’s harvest plans. Our concerns were ignored and fishing plans proceeded as if 2015 was going to be a “normal” year. Everyone, including DFO, knew this was unlikely.
One example of DFO’s “business-as-usual” management in the face of unprecedented environmental conditions is ongoing in Barkley Sound, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Marine commercial and recreational fisheries are occurring in Alberni Inlet while water temperatures in the Somas River have reached lethal levels and citizens are reporting dying fish that have not yet spawned. Not only has DFO not reduced the harvest on these stressed fish, they just increased it.
The MCC has made seven recommendations to DFO for immediate actions to protect salmon by reducing the impact of mixed stock fisheries, and increasing the number of successful spawners.