Monday, October 31, 2011

Chum Fishery on Fraser Threatens Thompson Steelhead

Trends in Thompson River abundance. From the Thompson Fisheries Blog

The Thompson River is home to one of the most revered runs of steelhead in the world. Known for their impressive size and tremendous strength, Thompson steelhead are considered by many to be the hardest fighting race of fish on the planet. Unfortunately, the last decade has been hard on the Big T and during each of the last three years the river has broken it's previous low water mark for steelhead returns with 690, 590, 500 fish respectively. For a river the size of the Thompson that is abysmal, particularly when compared to run sizes in from the 1980s to the mid 1990s when more than 3500 fish commonly returned.

Bycatch of Thompson River steelhead in gill net fisheries targeting chum have long been a major concern for the conservation of the run (check out total runsize v. escapement through the 1990s), but with the run clinging to it's very existence DFO has recently sought to rein in bycatch significantly. This year however, the department has changed course and opening the Johnstone Strait chum fishery for a total of 164 hours, posing a sigficant threat to the Thompsons imperiled run. Now, the DFO is planning to open the Fraser River for a gill net fishery targeting chum salmon, RIGHT when Thompson steelhead are migrating through the river. There is absolutely no justification for such a fishery and in opening the Fraser for a gill net fishery the department is all but admitting, openly that the extirpation of Thompson steelhead is not of any concern to them.

Give DFO's Lower Fraser Resource Manager Barbara Mueller a call (604)666-2370 and let her know how you feel about Thompson steelhead and this fishery.

Here's the fishery announcement:

Category(s): COMMERCIAL - Salmon: Gill Net Fishery Notice - Fisheries and Oceans Canada Subject: FN1072-COMMERCIAL - Salmon: Gill net - Area E - Area 29 - Fraser River Chum

Chum Test Fishery results at Albion are used to generate an in-season Fraser River terminal chum return. The current in-season estimate is 972,000 chum and a commercial surplus has been identified. Currently a commercial Area E Gill net chum opening in Area 29 is under discussion with the Area E Harvest Committee. An update outlining a fishery schedule and details for this opening will be announced by fishery notice as soon as possible.

Albion test fishery catch updates are available on the Lower Fraser Test
Fishing Information line at 604-666-6182.

Recorded updates for Area E fleet
are available on the Fisheries & Oceans Information line at 604) 666-2828.

Barbara Mueller, Resource Manager, Lower Fraser Area (604)666-2370 Fisheries and Oceans Canada Operations Center - FN1072 Sent October 31, 2011 at 15:34 Visit us on the Web at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The businesses in Spences Bridge and the supposed sportfishers that are supporting this opening are every bit as big a threat.The run is still below the threshhold set by MOE for an opening.Shame on all of you.