Chinook Test Run Numbers Way Higher Than Last Year
Anger towards the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is growing, from fishermen and elected officials. The spark has a lot to do with DFO Chinook test run numbers being significantly higher than they were last year.
While sport fishing in the Skeena remains off limits, reliability of the DFO test numbers are coming under fire as well.
This time last year 34 Chinook were caught by the DFO's Tyee test fishery. This year with a full ban of Chinook fishing in the Skeena and Nass watersheds, 60 Chinook salmon have been caught thus far.
"DFO's own allocation policy document stipulates that the sport fishery for Chinook and Koho should take priority over commercial fishery, yet we have a commercial fishery opening here in just over a week that's going to take close to 500 Skeena Chinook, which would've been better used in the river environment." Said the Vice- President of Kermodei Tourism, Brian Niska.
Our calls to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were not returned however in a June 21st release they said at this point in the season they were not thinking of any change in the plans they have in place fore the season,and that their over riding concern is conservation for Chinook Salmon.
Chinook fishery in the Skeena and Nass watersheds remain closed, however the marine fishery is experiencing business as usual.
One of the people frustrated by that, is Skeena MLA Ellis Ross.
"What I really don't appreciate is when you're assessing the value of all these different fisheries, are you actually assessing the value of a sport fishery in the Skeena River that applies to the economy of Terrace for example I know it's a science that's not perfected, but really who is looking out for the economy of Terrace." Ross said.
The Tyee test fishery indicates an approximate 45 percent increase in Chinook numbers compared to last year's run.
"I mean if their is a good return there and it's better than expected, you gotta cut some slack to the economy of Terrace." Ross continued.
While some are angry at the DFO's lack of response to the Tyee test run difference-,others aren't buying in to the fish counting mechanism in place.
"The DFO does not do a good job of counting fish. We don't spend a lot of money on it and we don't do a fair job of it, especially for Chinook. The Tyee test fishery -if you talk to most fisherman- will say it's not a good or accurate measure positive or negative, it's okay for sockeye but not Chinook." Skeena- Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said.
Letter's have been sent to the DFO from Kermodei Tourism, and the Skeena Anglers Association but no response has been received.
"Freshwater anglers weather their residents looking to get out with their kids or guide operators looking to run a business we bore the full brunt of the conservation effort and this year they shut us out completely. It's completely inappropriate how DFO is handing it and hopefully people will start to recognize what is taking place." Said Niska.