Guide Steve Babcock expressed frustration over misconceptions that the chinook fishery is “closed” in light of the new restrictions. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Chinook fishery not ‘closed’ in area is message from guides

Conservative MP holds town halls on Vancouver Island to hear stakeholders’ concerns

The Chinook fishery is facing onerous restrictions this season, but it is not actually closed in area waters, say local guides, despite what many think.

This was one of the most recurrent themes from a meeting at the Discovery Inn in Campbell River Tuesday night.

Red Deer-Lacombe Conservative MP Blaine Calkins, who sits on the federal Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, came here to hold a town meeting with stakeholders in the sportsfishing community and others about the situation facing the fishery. It was the last of three meetings, with other stops in Port Alberni and French Creek near Parksville. He was introduced by the riding’s Conservative candidate Shelley Downey.

RELATED STORY: Shelley Downey acclaimed as North Island-Powell River federal Conservative candidate

Calkins said he had been hunting and fishing all his life, and he wanted to get ideas to bring back to the committee on how the situation is affecting the sportsfishing community.

“I know hunters and anglers are the best conservationists,” he said.

One prominent example of the effect has been the cancellation of the popular salmon derby in Campbell River this year because of the new restrictions.

RELATED STORY: Limits on chinook fishery prompt cancellation of Campbell River Salmon Derby

The common sentiment in the room from Calkins and many on hand was that the recent restrictions from the federal government have more to do with politics than sound fisheries management. Some suggested the government was appeasing environmentalists or the fisheries were being used in the dispute over pipelines.

Several professional guides spoke up throughout the evening to express anger and confusion over the decision from Ottawa and how late it was announced, which gave them little time to react.

“I’ve lost thousands of dollars worth of work,” said Steve Babcock, owner and operator of Tall Tale Charters. He expressed frustration over misconceptions that the fishery is “closed” this season.

RELATED STORY: Fisheries Department announces conservation measures to protect chinook in B.C.

Over the question of Chinook stocks as the southern residents orcas’ food supply, those that spoke dismissed the idea orcas were not getting enough to eat and Chinook stocks were dwindling. They put the blame on media sensationalism. At one point, Calkins asked the members of the fishing community what their sense was for the Chinook. The common response was that there are plenty.

“The fishing is better now, or as good, as it was 30 years ago,” Babcock told Calkins.

Meeting-goers added that if any orcas are sick, it might have more to do with pollution from cities like Victoria pumping sewage into the ocean or the pollution from the Fraser River in the Lower Mainland.

Calkins said his goal, especially if his party forms the government following this fall’s federal election, is to produce more fish for everyone. This could be helped, he said, by putting money into hatcheries on Vancouver Island now sitting idle.

“I’m advocate for hatcheries,” he said.

Another prominent issue was the growth of the seal and sea lion populations and their effect on fish stocks. Calkins noted the East Coast fishery and how over the years, cod stocks have not come back, yet the region has been overrun with seals. One suggestion was to work with First Nations communities to explore the idea of a targeted harvest of the marine mammals, though Calkins conceded it would be a difficult move politically, even down to using the right terminology.

People in the room also questioned the state of science within Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Calkins differentiated between the Atlantic fishery, which focuses exclusively on the commercial industry, and the Pacific, which was more mixed between sports and commercial. He wanted to gauge whether there is support for having the Pacific fishery administered by DFO from the West Coast rather than in Ottawa.

“It might make a little bit of sense,” responded Ray Woodhead, owner and operator of Famous Ray’s Fishing Charters.

Just Posted

Ucluelet talks pot shops

Two applications are being considered as cannabis retailers.

Ahousaht students kick off school year with inspirational field-trip

Maaqtusiis kicks off year with two-night stay at Cedar Coast Field Station on Vargas Island

Surf’s Up event in Tofino offers a wave of positivity for families living with autism

“There’s no other opportunity like this for kids like Rylan.”

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: Meet the candidates for the Courtenay-Alberni riding

In an effort to inform the Courtenay-Alberni riding constituents, we have supplied… Continue reading

Crew keeps worried mother at bay while rescuing entangled baby humpback near Ucluelet

“These animals are massive, they’re powerful and it really is dangerous.”

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau says he also wore makeup while performing a version of a Harry Belafonte song

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

Most Read