Recreational fishing for chinook salmon in the Fraser River should be shut down because of accidental or intentional catching of sockeye returning to spawn, says the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
There is no threat to the chinook stocks from rod-and-reel anglers, who are enjoying a good season and a daily limit of four chinook a day. But UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the endangered sockeye will be taken by the common poaching technique of snagging or “flossing,” where line is pulled across the river into the mouths of migrating sockeye to hook them.
“With hundreds of anglers plying the Lower Fraser, seven days a week, [Fisheries and Oceans Canada] is hard-pressed to closely monitor and verify their catch,” Phillip said. “Every sockeye salmon that survives the myriad of challenges represents our ability to sustain our precious cultural legacy for our grandchildren.”
The Pacific Salmon Commission, a joint Canada-U.S. administration, has once again closed the Fraser River sockeye runs to all commercial fishing. In its latest report, the commission’s Fraser River panel reported a “modest” increase in test fishery catches around the Fraser mouth over the B.C. Day weekend, but left its run size estimate at 150,000 early summer sockeye.
That total is far below pre-season estimates, and water temperatures are getting higher as river flow diminishes in the hot weather. Water temperatures of more than 20 degrees have been measured, which could kill many fish before they can reach spawning beds in the B.C. Interior.
The commission says water temperatures are expected to decrease to below 19 degrees by Aug. 12 with cooler weather in the forecast.