Sport fishers stage floating protest over chinook salmon fishing ban

Sport fishermen, guides and their supporters floated in their boats Monday near Ogden point protesting a ban on fishing for chinook salmon.

Darren Wright, co-owner of Island Outfitters and a fishing guide, said the protesting sport fishermen are asking for the right to catch only one hatchery-bred chinook salmon per day. Hatchery-bred fish can be recognized by the lack of the small adipose fin, grown close to the tail but clipped off by hatchery workers prior to release. “It’s sustainable and science says it is,” Wright said in an interview.

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“We keep asking [the Department of Fisheries and Oceans] to give us a reason why we can’t and DFO can’t give us a reason because they really don’t have one,” he said.

Thee Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced tough new restrictions this year on catching and keeping chinook salmon.

Recreational fishermen off Victoria and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca are not allowed to catch and keep any chinook until Aug. 1.

An emailed statement from DFO said all 13 species of chinook salmon that spawn in the Fraser River have been declining for years, the result of habitat destruction, global warming and harvest.

The loss of these fish would be a disaster for wildlife that feed on them, such as orcas, and human populations that rely on them for food, cultural purposes and livelihoods.

Adding to the danger is a major land slide last month north of Kamloops that is blocking the spawning return of millions of chinook. Concerns about the slide prompted increased restrictions, announced on Friday, forbidding the retention of any chinook over 80 centimetres in length.

“While these measures are difficult they are necessary,” said the DFO statement. “The survival of these runs is critical to the future sustainability of these salmon.”

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