Here is what Jason Tonelli from Pacific Angler and PFA supporter has to say about Fraser chinook openings and the politics surrounding them…
“No Special Chinook Report would be complete without some politics and data. A lot of people are wondering why we are closed in Aug for chinook and if we will get it open again one of these days. Well, we are closed in August because there is a chance you might hook a chinook stock of concern. Most of these stocks of concern are long gone by August, they usually enter the river in April, May, June, and July. However, a few are around in August. How many you ask? Well in 386 samples taken in August and September, 6 of them were stocks of concern. Or in other works, you have 1.55% chance of hooking a stock of concern. In terms of how this shapes up to % of the expected return, you are looking at that being 0.39% of the expected return. Of those (stocks of concern), most of them would have been from earlier in August because by September most of the red chinook are long gone in general, stock of concern or not.
Keep in mind a lot of these stocks of concern are larger than 80 cm and aren’t in the Fraser Mouth area in late August. That is why there was a proposal to DFO to open things up later, approximately Aug 15th, to protect the very few remaining stocks of concern. With this later opening, that 1.55% chance of encountering a stock of concern would be dramatically reduced. As an added conservation measure, a slot limit of 62-80 cm would protect the odd stock of concern encountered. Imagine how small the encounter rate would be if we had an Aug 15th opening and a slot limit of 62-80. A lot lower than 0.32% of the expected return, that is for certain.
Despite this, the proposal was not accepted by DFO. So much for science, social and economic impact, logic, and your right to sustainably harvest a chinook. Oh, one more thing. While all this is going on and the public is closed to protect those stocks as per the above info, the river is full of gill nets. Legal and illegal.
Last year First Nations harvested about 25,000 chinook during legal gill net openings while the public was closed. The year before that it was around 40,000 chinook. This year I am not sure where the numbers will be, but in the tens of thousands for sure. To add insult to injury, over 212 illegal gill nets have been seized in the Fraser, one of the worst years ever. Last time I checked, gill nets didn’t select for 62-80cm size chinook, or endangered sockeye, summer steelhead, or juvenile sturgeon.
How DFO and this current federal government can micromanage the public fishery and then allow these in river fisheries and illegal fisheries is beyond me. I am not against food fisheries, but I believe there should be some opportunity for ALL Canadians, especially those that can fish a single barbless hook and select for fish in the 62-80 cm range, at one a day, 10 per year.
Those are the facts fellow public fishers, so remember that when you head to the polls this September. I am not going to tell you who to vote for, just that the Liberals are not interested in the public fishing sector and that they were the only political party NOT to sign off on fishing proposals specifically designed to offer public opportunity deemed low risk to stocks concern, while maintaining First Nations food fisheries. I will leave it up to you to decide where your X should go.”