Sunday, August 10, 2008

Area 4 Gillnet Catch Stats for 08

Here's the 2008 season total catch info for gillnetters in Area 4 Skeena:
Total openings: 14 ( 2 supposedly chinook 'targetted', 12 sockeye)

Catch Data:
coho: 0 rel. 8325
pink: 56,411.....rel: 2266.
chum: 0 rel. 6863
chinook: 5222 rel: 673
Of note here is the number of openings is above the 10 year average of 12, especially in a year forecast for possibly no commercial fishing.
And all the release figures would be of concern given what we know about the mortality rates of any fish species encountering a gillnet. Remember, these releases are ordered by DFO in the Fishery Notice description. So, chum, steeelhead, coho are all 'non-retention' for gillnetters which means they are not allowed to be in their possession and even dead fish are thrown overboard. Quite a wasteful approach, but more on that aspect in a future post.
The only species on voluntary release was chinook and you can see the comparsion between kept/released is slanted towards the kill side. This is fairly obvious when a chinook is worth so much to a fisher.
One discrepancy you see in comparing the seiners and gillnetters is this chinook release order. Seiners are on non-retention for chinook but not gillnetters. Gillnetters get to chose to release or not....and if the fish is worth between 40-60 dollars let's guess what the fisher is going to do the majority of the time. And the catch summary bears this out.
Is the rule difference possibly tied to the fact the high mortality rate of gillnets would cause the majority of chinook caught to be DOA...and therefore enforcing non-retention would be a huge waste of this resource? Or is some other DFO rationale at work here. This is one of those quirky DFO fishery management methods you have to wonder about.
And, saving the best for last, there are no steelhead numbers...killed...or least not publicly accessible on the DFO website. But, even if there were everyone knows the veracity of any would be highly questionable given the source. This conspiracy of silence around steelhead numbers with gillnetters is an interesting microcosm of what's wrong with the fishery in general. For example, what other resource extraction industry in BC could blatantly get away with providing false or misleading information to regulators? But the commercial fishing industry has gotten away with this for decades with no penalties to show for it. It is so far entrenched nowadays as to be just a part of the fabric of the industry.
It will be interesting to compare the seine catch/release numbers, if they ever get posted, and see how valid they are. With little onboard enforcement and no onboard independant observers the seine numbers could also be a little suspect with regard to steelhead encounters.

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