SFAB May 17 notes from Sandy MacDonald

Folks. This will be my last report until the fall.Hopefully after we have a successful sockeye fishery.

Speaking of sockeye….In port Alberni and the Skeena system ,a major sockeye collapse is forecast.
We expect at least 3-5 million to enter the Fraser system which would be large enough to provide a recreational fishery in the lower Fraser and Thompson Rivers.

CHINOOK are a different story! The Skeena system is closed to all salmon fishing this year unless an unexpected sockeye return happens ,but there will be no chinook fishery in the Skeena or Nass this year.

DFO Science Division are so worried about an imminent total collapse of our chinook that they recommended a complete shutdown this year. However, the powers to be decided that a complete closure could be avoided if the catch could be reduced by 25 to 35 %.The first thought was to reduce the daily limit to one fish but calculations showed this would only get a 17 % reduction. SFAB has set up a committee to work with DFO staff to find a method to get to the goals without ‘complete shutdown. However , as per usual , we were ask to come up with our recommendation without adequate information and by mid May.We did not know what reductions other sectors were offering. The SFAB committee did come up with a list of recommendations but by the deadline but DFO calculations indicated that the SFAB recommendations fell short of the reduction necessary and we have not heard what DFO  is going to do to meet the goal

HERRING…The north coast herring spawn was poor. The outer S Coast is unmeasured so no estimate of spawning available. The inside south had a moderate size spawn but commercial boats did not get their quota

HALIBUT, as per my last synopsis the Canadian quota has been dropped by 10 %. Even at last years larger quota the recreational part of the Canadian quota was treated by mid Sept. ,so the SFAB came to an agreement to reduce the size of the largest fish of the two day quita to try and stay fishing later in the season. Next year we expect a further cut in the quota which unless the regs.are changed dramatically, we will be off the water by mid Aug.
        “ these quotas are set by the International Pacific Halibut Commission ( IPHC ) and are the result of scientific sampling of stocks along the coast. Canada has Commercial,Recreational,and First Nations seats on the commission.  This year the Americans could not agree amongst themselves as to the size of Quota cut and how to divide it between Alaska and the souther pac.coast staes, so Canada decided on a 10 % cut arbitrarily.

        YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH ( Red Snapper ) population numbers are so low over the whole south ,central coast that they will be closed completely for the foreseeable future. Even with no harvest of Yellowed it is estimated that it will take 15 years for the population on the outer coast to recover and 80 years to recover inside Van. Isl.
        Other rockfish species populations are also in dire straits so limits will stay at one and two for a few years.

DESCENDERS, ..To help in all rockfish recovery it will be mandatory in  2019 to use a descender to release surplus rockfish back to the depth at which they were caught.These descending devices will soon be in all coastal tackle shops

CRAB…Because illegal night harvesting by poachers was thought to be exceeding the legal harvest, the tending of crab traps at night has been made illegal. Traps may be set in the daylight hours and left overnight,just not hauled or set at night.

        SFAB and western DFO have developed a mutually acceptable transportation method which has been sent to Ottawa to be turned into regulation. However is not a high priority in Ottawa so is currently on the back burner. SO for this year I can only tell you that the old regulation is still in effect. This means that we can only transport our own 2 day limit from the water to our residence.

        As noted in previous reports , this southern population of killer whales is considered ( AT RISK ) and is the only killer whale population that bis decreasing in numbers. Northern KW’s are increasing in number
Scientists feel the main reasons for the decrease are
        1.lack uf sufficient large bodied salmon usually Chinook and Chum.Other KW’s are less picky in their diet ,usually eating seals,sea lions, and fish 0f all sizes.
        2.noise interference with their echo location of prey
        3. inadvertent harassment by high speed small boats (whale watchers,anglers etc
To date DFO has proposed 3 areas around southern Van ill,the mouth of the Fraser, and along Saturna island be closed to recreational fishing for the spring and summer months AND rolling closures where and when whales are seen in the area.

Note !! while closing fishing will provide some extra fish for the SRKW, the chief harvesters  of their favourite prey are the huge ,and increasing, number of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions)
AND there is no current plans for culling these animals!!!

Thanks Sandy.