Dear Minister Jordan,
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment and lack of trust in the consultation process that you conducted with the public and the Sport Fish Advisory Board on your recent decision regarding Fraser River Chinook Management Measures. At no time during the consultation process was the extreme closures that were put in place by your department ever proposed or discussed. You now have closed access to any Chinook salmon fishing for even catch and release in all of Vancouver area and the majority of Howe Sound from April 1 to September 1, with no consultation on this with the public! This is disgraceful and totally unacceptable! Both, the lack of consideration and unjustified policies DFO continues to impose on the public sector are destroying an important social and economic component of Canadian society.
The Sport Fish Advisory Board worked very hard since last year when Fraser River Chinook Management measures were put in place to make recommendations to DFO on recovery measures for the 4.2 and 5.2 Spring Chinook and 5.2 Summer Chinook stocks of concern. We asked for a recovery program that involved real actions such as addressing water extraction, habitat degradation, pinniped predation, hatchery enhancement, enforcement of illegal in river gillnets and selective fishing such as fish traps. I also personally with Minister Wilkinson in May of 2019 to put forward these recommendations, even going so far as to put forward a written proposal by the Spruce City Wildlife Federation to aid in recovery that never received a response from the Minister!
So far, all you have announced is a smoke mirrors plan of massive closures without consultation that has proven to fail based on past management! Fishing restrictions have failed to save other salmon species such as early Stuart Sockeye, Thompson Coho and Steelhead. During extensive meetings with DFO staff, the Sport Fish Advisory Board presented opportunities for mark selective fisheries for Chinook salmon in areas of the South Coast that had a less than 1% encounter rate with the Chinook stocks of concern. This would have created retention opportunities for the many healthy Chinook salmon stocks that are in the South Coast waters. It would have protected critical socio and economic opportunities for all Canadians. Now you have decided that 1% still was not acceptable and closed. I ask you and your department if a proposal that was built on DFO’s own science and data is not acceptable at 1% encounter rate, then what is? You have put in place a political driven two-tier management system without on consultation or scientific basis to only pander to the MCC and Fraser River First Nations opposition to the Public Fishery. This unacceptable politically driven decision will not be taken lightly by the Public Fishery and you will be held accountable for your management measures and complete failure to use science and data.
I can tell you that from 20 years of fishing the South Coast and specifically the Howe Sound and Vancouver area for Chinook salmon, that I have never seen some many Chinook salmon in our local waters. There are abundant numbers of Chinook from the Chilliwack/Vedder River, Puget Sound, Summer 5-2 Chinook and Eastcoast of Vancouver Island rivers such as the Cowichan and Puntledge, along with significant improvements in Squamish Chinook as a result of hatchery enhancement and improved habitat work done by your own department. This year I started doing Chinook sampling for the DFO AVID ANGLER program. During days this spring in a 6 hour period of sampling Chinook in Howe Sound and lower Georgia Straight, I have caught and released 27 Chinook between 55 cm and 81 cm in one outing. Several times this year I have sampled 12 to 15 Chinook in 3 or 4 hours of fishing. The abundance of Chinook in local waters is incredible yet DFO chooses to ignore this and bring in totally not science and data-based management measures!
Minister, I urge you to immediately reconsider your decision and restore access to the public fishery to the abundant Chinook salmon that can be caught by sport fishers in a very sustainable manner and take real recovery measures for Chinook stocks of concern!
Squamish to Lillooet Sport Fish Advisory Board Vice-Chair
DFO National Recreational Fisheries Award Recipient 2017