Skeena salmon closure: DFO, not stock pressure, the root of problem

TERRACEYesterday’s closure til mid-July of salmon fishing on the Skeena River to all sectors but First Nations is a slam to the Northwest economy that would likely have been avoided if federal fisheries officials had been more aggressive in stock management the last decade, says MP Nathan Cullen.

“Shuttering the fishery to sport and recreational fishers for such a chunk of the season will have a crushing economic impact on the entire Northwest,” Cullen said from Ottawa this morning.

“Rampant cuts to hatcheries, stock protection and enhancement, as well as outrageous overfishing by international harvesters, are what really need to be attacked to protect our precious wild salmon resource, instead of targeting Northwest residents and visitors.”

Cullen also pointed to the need for additional management activities such as more DFO officers to police ocean and river fishing as important in ensuring long term stock health.

He noted the right of First Nations to harvest for traditional food and ceremonial purposes is rightly enshrined in law and it is appropriate that sector remain open during the Skeena closure.

During the closure, First Nations are permitted to harvest only chinook, pink and chum salmon.  The Skeena sockeye fishery is closed to all sectors the entire 2017 season due to predicted low returns, unless there are in-season indications of an improved sockeye run.  The Kitimat and Nass rivers are not affected by the closure.

With the once-bountiful Skeena off-limits for several weeks, Cullen expects tempers will rise on local rivers as concentrated numbers of fishers jostle for room to drop their lines.  Ocean fishing, which allows higher quotas than rivers, will likely also see a spike during the Skeena closure.

Recreational harvesting for Skeena coho, pink and chinook salmon is slated to re-open on July 15.  However, fishers are asked to refer to the online BC Sport Fishing Guide and watch for federal notices to confirm opening dates, times and other restrictions.


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Contact:         Shelley Browne, 250-877-4140,