Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Modern fishery management??

Here's a great example of how fisheries are managed on the north coast...and have been for years. Every year in Skeena there is an early chinook gillnet opening. It is generally the first fishery of the season. The gillnetters have a quota of 4000 chinook and generally get 30 hours open to try and reach the quota.

Highlighted below is from a recent Fishery Notice. It mentions poor catch where they probably didnt reach the 4000 number, ( the DFO website hasnt posted the results yet) and no further openings. The Notice also mentions the poor chinook return as being recorded as half of the decadel average measured at Tyee.

Now, reasonable people might ask, if the chinook numbers werent strong to begin with why was the fishery allowed??? It is almost like fishery managers just sent the gillnet fleet out because 'we do this every year' or to 'see what is out there', sometimes labelled 'exploratory openings'. But really there is more to it than that....

The pressure put on DFO by the commercial sector to always have this opening reflects both the economic importance of the openings ( chinook are a big dollar item ) and the sad state of the fishing industry. If fishing is good this opening can actually make gillnetters some money...which is a pretty rare thing nowadays.

The sad state of their industry is truly reflected in the fact that so much importance is placed on a 30 hour opening. Historically, the north coast commercial sector used to catch hundreds of thousands of chinook. Now they are down to 4000 fish in this directed fishery...plus whatever chinook bycatch they can get while sockeye fishing. ( Weve mentioned the problems with the 'voluntary release' provisions for chinook in previous posts and will cover this more this summer)

If the chinook return numbers stay low lets hope measures are taken to protect the fish from all users, starting with getting rid of the 'voluntary release' provisions for commercial fishermen targetting other species.

Area 4
The recently concluded chinook gill net fishery in Area 4 saw very poor
catches. Tyee test index is also low, at approximately half the decadel
average. No further chinook fishery is being planned at this time. The chinook
return will continue to be monitored on a daily basis, and if significant
increases occur in the run, then a further opening could be considered.

No comments: