Years of excuses and inaction on Marked Selective Fishery (MSF) proves Fisheries Minister Murray has little regard for British Columbia’s salmon anglers. In a shocking new revelation, the PFA has learned that Pacific Region DFO approved MSF proposals for Chinook, slated to open on April 1st 2023, have only just reached the minister’s desk. Two weeks beyond the proposed opening date and still no decision! Yet Murray has time for schmoosing in Norway, Iceland and on the East Coast instead.
Is this caused by a dysfunctional senior DFO or perhaps it’s intentional?
Fact: Without doubt, there is sufficient abundance of hatchery marked Chinook, combined with an absence, or very low presence, of stocks of concern for the department’s 2023 proposed Mark Selective Fisheries to allow anglers to retain a modest catch of hatchery Chinook, without impacting Fraser River and other Chinook stocks of concern.
This is a call to Action!
We need your help to get these fisheries opened immediately!
What is the PFA Doing?
The Public Fishery Alliance is undertaking the following actions immediately, in addition to our existing advocacy work already being done for the public salmon fishery:
- Starting an online e-petition to support the immediate approval of the proposed Mark Selective Fisheries. It will be posted on the PFA website soon. Please sign it and share it broadly!
- The PFA will have a booth at the Victoria April 21-23rd Outdoor Show to discuss the severity of the current situation with anglers and angling businesses. Drop by!
- The PFA will be holding Town Hall meetings, in conjunction with other angling organizations, in Victoria and Vancouver. Information about dates and locations will be posted on this site. Please attend!
What can you do?
You can help immediately by sharing this post with as many of your angling buddies, fishing organizations, businesses and fishing blogs as possible. And, you must attend the upcoming PFA Town Hall meetings too! The future of your access to salmon fishing depends on engaged and knowledgeable anglers making a stand for legitimate, data-supported and conservation-based opportunities to access our salmon resources.
Anglers and fishing businesses in Vancouver, Lower Georgia Strait and Victoria were anxiously awaiting an April 1st announcement from the Minister that should have approved some, if not all, of the 2023 proposals for modest Mark Selective Fisheries in these areas.
After four years under the crippling affects of Chinook-non-retention for most of the peak fishing season, during which time recreational advisors and representatives have cooperated fully with Fisheries and Oceans staff in developing and adjusting proposals that would permit these fisheries to proceed, it was felt that the most recent options would finally receive the Minister’s approval. Not so, even with very positive assessments by DFO stock assessment that confirmed these proposals posed ‘no or very minimal risks for Chinook stocks of concern’.
On April 4th the Public Fishery Alliance (PFA) sent the letter posted below to the Minister expressing our deepest frustration with the lack of a decision leading up to April 1st. The letter went to the Minister, senior DFO bureaucrats, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Fisheries and key Members of Parliament. The PFA had intended to give it wide distribution throughout the angling community and media, but did not, because there was speculation that a positive decision would be coming by April 15th and as a courtesy to give the Minister some additional time to consider the proposals.
That deadline has now passed, no decision has been made, and this letter can now be distributed widely. It supports a more detailed correspondence from the Public Fishery Alliance to the Minister sent in early March explaining why these Chinook opportunities were important and what it would take for the public fishery to survive through these difficult times.
These discussions are not new to Ottawa or Pacific Region Fishery bureaucrats. They have been going on at the Sport Fishing Advisory Board and other levels since then Minister of Fisheries Johnathan Wilkinson arbitrarily imposed Chinook-non-retention in 2018. His decision was made without consideration for the impacts it would have on the public fishery, and without assessing options that would have provided adequate conservation protections while allowing modest Chinook retention to proceed.
Thursday April 6th, 2023
Sent and copied by electronic mail
Attn: The Honourable Joyce Murray
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans & the Canadian Coast Guard
House of Commons
RE: Proposed New Spring 2023 Marked Selective Chinook Fishery Pilots Did Not Open
Dear Minister Murray,
The Public Fishery Alliance Board of Directors and our members are extremely disappointed by your decision not to approve and open any of the new pilot marked selective Chinook fisheries as proposed by your own department and planned to begin April 1, 2023. (a link to DFO’s – MSF proposed new pilots for spring 2023 can be found at the end of this letter)
Recognizing the current conservation needs of certain Chinook stocks of concern, our fishery requests only sought the barest minimum hatchery fish retention opportunity with almost zero impact to wild Chinook and being based upon your own department’s analysis using the latest scientific data. The timing and location of these pilot fisheries also has no impact on SRKW recovery.
Predictability is vital – Even though the recent DFO Chinook management announcement, Fisheries Notices # 0330 and 0331, (a link to these DFO fisheries notices can be found at the end of this letter) indicates there may be opportunity forthcoming in future fisheries notices, this provides little comfort to anglers and businesses that rely on the public fishery who prepared for April 1st opportunities.
Managing the public fishery with last minute announcements of this significance is terribly damaging to fishing guides, lodges, tackle stores and other businesses in small coastal communities that service angling customers. These businesses cannot not switch on in an instant, they require sufficient lead time to attract and book clients, acquire fishing tackle to stock shelves, and provide bookings for accommodations. Timely advance planning for public Chinook fishing is particularly vital to these communities, and the recreational fishery as a whole. Especially those who fish for Chinook off South Vancouver Island and the waters near Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. In addition, the consultation and fisheries planning process is out of sync with the needs of the public salmon fishery.
Public Chinook fisheries cannot be managed in the same way the department manages commercial salmon fisheries. Successful commercial salmon fisheries catch as much fish as allowed in the shortest time possible. Conversely, public salmon fisheries do not measure success by the volume of salmon caught, but by the length of time provided for anglers and angling businesses take part in those fisheries. So, each day lost in time-limited pilot fisheries is extremely costly, and cannot be recovered.
Anti-public fishery lobbying – In our opinion, your decision not to open the department’s proposed additional pilot marked selective Chinook fishing opportunities on April 1st was due to considerable pressure you received directly from very vocal environmental and indigenous lobby groups. Many of these groups do not like angling and seek to end the public Chinook fishery in Southern BC. However, not liking angling is not a valid reason for continuing non-retention of Chinook where and when there is no justification for it.
We submit that these groups will continue to find any excuse to delay and block legitimate attempts by our sector to develop modest mark selective public salmon fisheries, where important Chinook fisheries once existed. This is something that must be resisted.
Between the COVID pandemic and overly harsh salmon fishery regulations, in Southern BC our sector is struggling. Under the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative, your department is moving towards mass marking of hatchery Chinook and implementing marked selective fishing at a slow and drawn-out pace. A viable public Chinook fishery brings great economic and social value. It also provides the crucial creel and stock composition data that should be the basis of wisely managing our fisheries with impartiality.
After five years of oppressive Chinook non retention regulations covering four months during the peak fishing season, it is time to open marked selective fisheries where there is no reasonable science-based rationale for keeping them closed. These extremely modest and legitimate proposals are a critical step along that road. The Public Fishery Alliance strongly urges you to immediately approve and open these additional pilot fisheries.
Yours in conservation,
Signed on behalf of the Public Fishery Alliance Board of Directors
1) – Link to DFO Marked Selective Chinook Fisheries -new pilot proposals for Spring 2023 presentation …
2) – Link to DFO Fisheries Notices # 0330 and # 0331 from March 31st, 2023 …