DFO releases new chinook season regulations

Some additional retention areas and times added this season

Chinook, the largest of the five Pacific salmon species, are highly sought by sport fioshers and orca whales.| Shutterstock

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has “finally” released its regulations for the 2021 chinook fishing season, and the Sport Fishing Institute is calling the new regulations “disappointing.”

For the past couple of years, restrictions on fishing for chinook have been increasing in stringency, including the implementation of no-fishing zones and times last year. The increased restrictions are intended to address concerns about declining Southern Resident Killer Whales, which eat mainly chinook salmon.

Sport fishermen had hoped to see the regulations for this season out a couple of weeks ago.

“The wait was not only inexplicably long, today's notice is disappointing and failed to deliver a balanced and conservation-minded approach the sport fishing community has been seeking for over a year,” the institute said in a news release.

Some new areas and times have been added for retention of chinook. Otherwise, DFO is missing an opportunity to use marked selective fisheries (MSF) – i.e. marked hatchery fish – to full advantage, the institute says.

In an MSF fishery, the adipose fin of fish raised in hatcheries is removed. This allows for increased fishing opportunities by allowing anglers to retain hatchery fish only, thus taking pressure off natural wild stocks.

The Sport Fishing Institute says that the majority of proposed MSF provisions that had been proposed are not included in this year’s regulations.

“The notice provides a minimum of the critically needed relief to British Columbians who depend on the public salmon fishery for employment, food and healthy family oriented outdoor activity, and many carefully chosen areas and the majority of MSFs proposed were not approved,” the institute says.

Details for areas and times for this season’s chinook fishery can be found here