Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Chum concerns

Last season we posted about pitying the poor chum salmon. The issue was chum are a stock of conservation concern on the north coast, and in conjunction with poor returns in 2008, they were subjected to high bycatch impacts from the various commercial fisheries. For example, in Area 3 just over 14,000 chum were killed in gillnet fisheries targetted at sockeye. Add in all mortalities from releases in seine and gillnets fisheries in Areas 3 & 4 for a total of approx. 20,000 chum killed in commercial fisheries.(these figures dont include Area 4 seine release info, which hasnt been posted)

The 2009 season is still in the early stages and DFO is already raising concern over the large number of chum being encountered. In 4 gillnet openings in Area 3 so far this season approx. 18,012 chum have already been killed. And the stats for 2 further gillnet openings on July 6 and 7 are not in yet either. So, they've already almost equalled last seasons impacts in only 4 openings.

And while DFO claims this is of major concern, this concern doesnt translate into closing the Area 3 gillnet fishery. Rather than close the non-selective gillnet fishery, DFO instead choses to tinker by applying chum non-retention rules in certain sub-areas. This eventhough the mortality rate of chum encountering a gillnet is in the 70% range.
So DFO 'concern' doesnt necessarily translate into action for the poor chum salmon. Interesting to see if DFO allows these high impacts to continue for much longer.

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