Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fish cops not pleased with gillnetters

At last!! At last the slightest hint that enforcement of the fishing fleets might actually be improving. Check out the Notice just posted as a warning to gillnetters about having operating 'blue boxes'. We also have an inquiry into the Head of Enforcement in Prince Rupert on this very topic, but no response yet. We'll keep you posted.

Fishery Notice: DFO North Coast website
COMMERCIAL - Salmon: Gill Net
FN0501-Salmon: Gillnet - Area C - 3, 4 & 5 - Poor Compliance
Recent information revealed an unacceptable, poor compliance with gill net license conditions. In particular, there was a failure to have an operating revival box for prohibited by-catch such as coho, chum and steelhead on several vessels. Fishermen are reminded that failure to adhere to their license conditions will result in enforcement action and future gill net opportunities will be dependent on compliance with licence conditions for the proper management and control of the fishery

1 comment:

fisx said...

The 'blue box' regulation that was put in effect in the late '80's or early '90's if my memory serves me is just a bone that DFO tossed us.

From direct conversations I have had with deck hands most captains forbid there use - time is money. Commercial fishermen are not about to waste time on reviving non-retention fish during a salmon opening. Also, and even more sinister, is that a portion of these guys want as many steelhead dead as possible. Then there will not be any non-selective harvest issues to deal with. As indicated there never has been any enforcement what-so-ever of this regulation. In the last ten or so years hardly a single boat out of the entire 500 some fleet has had an operating oxygenated revival tank on board.
It's good to finally see some enforcement officers present in Rupert, but sadly even if DFO gets a little compliance on the 'blue box' reg. it will not benefit steelhead or salmon in any significant way. A brailed fish is a dead fish for all practical purposes. Sure, a gill net that has had minimal soak time can sometimes bring in steelhead and salmon that are revivable. Ditto for a purse seine. But by far the most prevalent situation is that netted fish are DOA. The truth here is that without a DFO enforcement officer on every single boat in the Rupert fleet the blue boxes, operational or not, simply will not be used. If you check captain's tallies of 'non-retention' fish brailed during an opener they never catch any steelhead anyway.
So, in my opinion, the good news here is not the possible resurgence of rescue boxes but that DFO has decided to at least observe a bit of what goes on onboard the boats during the commercial salmon season - something [regardless of their claims to the contrary] that they have only very rarely ever done.
Let's not let anyone use the blue box issue as an example of the why the status quo is OK.