DFO Chinook Measures – Who Does it Hurt/Help?

April 19, 2019

Measures to support Chinook stocks are critical for jobs, economic prosperity and food security in our communities. Unfortunately, the Liberal government’s DFO Chinook Measures show a lack of balance between conservation and socioeconomic impacts to the recreational fishing industry. Liberals have no MP’s on Vancouver Island and are out of touch with our local economy. Recreational fishers wait for the other shoe to drop as the SKRW Recovery Action decision is expected in May (after the by-election in Nanaimo-Ladysmith) with imminent threats of area based closures and fishery avoidance zones.

Islanders who have participated in the DFO consultations to-date and submitted scientific evidence do not feel heard. Who will speak for sports fishers and charter guide operators?

Our NDP MP, Johns, says he has, “lead the call in Parliament” on this issue but where are the results for our communities? The reality is that the NDP has no effective political power in Ottawa to represent our communities and influence DFO. On Facebook he blames the main political parties and pipelines (?) for the problem but offers no concrete ideas or proposed amendments to the Chinook Measures to help working Islanders.

DFO must be held accountable to science-based decision making. DFO’s own science showed extremely limited interception of Chinook stocks by the West Coast Vancouver Island (WCVI) fishery in Areas 123 and 124. Measures should be amended to make sure there is an open corridor along the WCVI to allow access for those communities not connected to an open area and fishing areas that are known to have close to zero impact on the stocks of concern.

Sports fishing is a significant contributor to our local economies in the Mid-Island, promotes family togetherness and upholds our heritage of fishing. The government should take into account the relatively high economic value per fish of the recreational Chinook fishery. Local charter guides have told me they were struggling to get bookings with the long period of Liberal created uncertainty are now reporting heavy cancellations.

We need action not talk, finger pointing or selective science:

  • Progress on mass marking and selective marked fisheries:
  • Enforcement of all regulations;
  • Address the barriers to Chinook production on the Fraser;
  • Education on catch and release tactics to improve survival;
  • Information - consistent log books to quantify Chinook caught annually by the recreational fishery;
  • Expansion of hatchery production where appropriate.

Liberals have only signed or proposed contracts to spend ~$12M of the $142M salmon restoration fund to-date which shows their failure to act in a timely, scientific and results-based manner to urgently support Chinook stocks. Time is of the essence.

DFO needs to learn from the successful efforts to rebuild Cowichan River Chinook from 1,000 to more than 25,000 returning adults in 2018 as an alternative model and one that engages local stakeholders, focuses on habitat improvement projects in conjunction with hatchery enhancement and balanced fishing restrictions.

In BC more than 200,000 fishing licenses are sold per year. Every sports fisher and guide I have met in the Mid-Island would be willing to pay more than the current $22 permit fee per year if all or most of these funds went to wild salmon habitat restoration and enhancement.

If elected as your MP, in a Conservative government, I will give the Mid-Island a real seat at the table, a real voice with DFO and effective representation.

What do you think? Please comment and share.