Thursday, August 11, 2011

Skeena Gill Netting By-catch Continues Unchecked

With Sockeye numbers above expectations on the Skeena this summer, the commercial fishery has ramped up to take advantage of the opportunity. Despite years of concern over bycatch of steelhead and other non-target species in the gill net fishery, and a world class independent scientific review which recommended moving towards selective gear, regional DFO managers remain unmoved. Instead they contend that short set gill nets can serve as "selective gear" as non-target species are removed and released when the net is collected. The data however is unequivocal, short term mortality rates in fish released from gill nets are exceedingly high and over the long term the injuries and stress the fish sustain will lead to increased susceptibility to infection and elevated prespawn mortality. A quote from the Skeena Fisheries Blog:

"As of July 22 we are 1/3 of our 2010 numbers. No selective fishing measures being taken and seine fishery every day of the week. This all makes us wonder whether we have made any progress in this battle or whether we just get more meetings. On a positive note the Province has taken a stand for steelhead. No matter how progressive DFO is at higher levels the changes never seem to make it past the Rupert office. It is time to take off the gloves and focus on the real problem...North Coast DFO. "

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