On March 10th, 2018, a meeting was held at Bass Pro Shops in Tswassen. BCWF Members met at Bass Pro in Tswassen. The Lower Fraser SFAC (Sport Fishing Advisory Committee) provided advice to the SRKW (Southern Region Killer Whale) sub-committee for consideration in the SFAB (Sport Fishing Advisory Board) response to the discussion paper for proposed Salmon Management Actions for SRKW. The advice is for only the Area of the Fraser River mouth and will leave to other local SFAC to comment on the areas they represent. The committee reached out to the local angling community which included a public meeting with close to 200 people present. From the feedback received at the meeting, the following is the BCWF’s recommendations:
- That Sub Area’s 29-7, 29-9 & 29-10 be a Salmon Fishing Closure from May 1st to September 30th.
- The inclusion of 29-12 remains a mystery to the Committee as almost no recreational salmon fishing occurs in this aea except on years when Pink Salmon may be available.
- The 29-12 fishery is shore base and small in size and until such time that DFO can provide better information why this area should be included, we do not support extending the current Salmon Fishing Closure from July 31st to September 30th
- Sub-Area 29-6 is located outside of the SRKW Foraging Area as shown on page 11 of the Discussion Paper
- The Area could provide for opportunities on other species such as Sockeye especially for small boat anglers that launch at the Tsawwassen Ferry causeway
- We recommend that from May 1st to July 31st it be Salmon Fishing Closure
- From August 1st to September 30th it would only be non-retention of Chinook
Participants at the meeting felt strongly that DFO implementing closed areas for the recreational fishery is not a complete solution to the problems facing SRKW’s and their ability to find prey. Participants felt strongly that in order for the whales to more effectively acquire prey:
- That all sources of physical and acoustic disturbance that can be, should be removed from the refuge areas including specifically whale watching boats and all other types of fishing activity, commercial and otherwise
- It is acknowledged that vessels transiting the area will still need to do so.
- A public education and awareness campaign to educate mariners and recreational boaters as to best avoidance practices should be implemented
- That DFO must embark on a program of strategic chinook enhancement initiatives in the region to produce more chinook salmon that are accessible to whales.
- These measures can include sea penning of the appropriate timed chinook stocks as well as enhancement in the river via hatcheries. • That the DFO embark on a long-term program of habitat preservation and rehabilitation in the Fraser River Drainage, especially in the lower reaches and estuary, to increase the survival of chinook.
- That DFO must embark on a thorough investigation of the impacts of predators such as seals and sea lions on the early marine survival of chinook entering the Lower Fraser River and Salish Sea.
- Its is the strong belief of many participants that based on current studies, that predation plays a very significant role in the challenges faced by ocean type salmonids originating from the Fraser River.