Recreational salmon fishing will be closed in the Fraser River until November 1, according to an announcement from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, though fishing opportunities for specific stock may be considered at a later date.
The move is one of a number of new measures introduced by the federal government to support Fraser Chinook. The department is implementing measures similar to those introduced in 2019 with additional restrictions to strengthen conservation.
Climate change, habitat destruction and harvesting have been contributing to a declining number of Chinook Salmon in the Fraser River, with only one of the 13 Chinook populations assessed as not being at risk.
Recreational fisheries in Southern B.C. will not be able to retain Chinook until July 15, with the exception of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the southern Strait of Georgia fisheries, which won’t open until August 1st because of its higher prevalence of endangered Fraser Chinook.
Portions of the southern Strait of Georgia, Howe Sound and Burrard Inlet will be closed to fishing for Chinook through August in order to reduce mortality on Chinook stocks.
The announcement highlights how First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries have a constitutionally protected status and that this will continue to be provided for.
Climate change is one of the main concerns when it comes to replenishing Chinook stocks. Because of Canada’s northern latitude, the country’s warming has been double the global average. Warmer water temperatures resulting from warmer temperatures and melting snow packs has impacted Chinook negatively. This makes the upstream migration harder for salmon, killing some and causing the ones that make it to produce weaker offspring according to the technical briefing.
The department is also creating some flexibility for additional fisheries for all harvesters in areas where impacts to Chinook stocks will be very low.
Additional restrictions were also added in order to help protect the southern resident killer whale populations including prohibiting fishing within 1000 metres of whales. The efficacy of restrictions put in pace is still unknown and difficult to determine according to the department.