Fishing ban a ‘devastating blow’ for Sooke

Feds close area from Otter Point to Port Renfrew

A recreational fishing closure for all fin-fish in the area from Otter Point to East Point on the eastern entrance to Port San Juan is a “devastating blow” to the Sooke Region, say local officials and fishers.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans ban, announced Wednesday, takes effect June 1 to Sept. 30.

“A tough day for Sooke. I hope our fishers and guides will be successful this season with this reduced area, and our business community, local politicians and residents will press our MP Randall Garrison and the federal government to lift or amend this closure,” said Mike Hicks, a Capital Regional District director and former fishing guide.

Ryan Chamberland, owner of Vancouver Island Lodge, called the decision “devastating” for local business.

“It’s going to potentially close my business. It’s a huge destruction of our tourism industry in Sooke,” he said, adding the DFO decision will damage the area’s fishing reputation.

Chamberland said he’s never seen such a widespread ban on fishing in his lifetime.

The southern resident killer whales population has only 76 members and lack of prey is a critical factor affecting their survival, the federal government said.

The federal government is cutting back coast-wide on allowed catches of prized chinook salmon as it attempts to save the small population of endangered southern resident killer whales.

Chinook salmon, also called spring salmon, are the largest Pacific salmon, with some known to tip the scales at more than 45 kilograms. They are prized by southern resident whales, which rely on the fish for 80 per cent of their diet.

RELATED: No fish zones eyed to save killer whales along south coast

Chris Bos, president of the South Vancouver Island Anglers Association and chair of the Sport Fishing Advisory board, said local fishers attempted changes to DFO’s plan, such as creating a bubble zone that when the killer whales were near fishing areas, recreational fishers would move to give the orcas a quiet refuge and feeding area.

Another possibility was to move the boundary in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Sheringham Point to Point No Point. “Then you would keep 95 per cent of the good fishing spots,” Bos said.

Besides no fishing rule for salmon, the no fin-fish ban also means fishers won’t be able to fish for other species such as halibut, which orcas don’t eat.

Whale-watching operations, boaters, commercial freighters and the military will still be able to use the waters, even though the federal government wants the zone to be a whale refuge. Scientific reports have indicated that noise from boats are as much a hazard to killer whales as is lack of food.

The no fin-fish ban has brought politicians and local fishing organizations together to convince DFO to to lift or amend the closure.

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait wants to talk further with her council on the community’s response to the closure, while Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison wants DFO to consider the conservation and enhancement efforts of local anglers.

RELATED: 225,000 Chinook salmon will be released to feed endangered orcas

“Closures to salmon fisheries in the Strait of Juan de Fuca must be balanced with an understanding of the role of fishing communities in moving conservation and enhancement efforts forward in order to be effective,” Garrison stated in a press release.

Along with the Strait of Juan de Fuca ban, DFO also announced fishing curtailment near the mouth of the Fraser River and in areas around Pender and Saturna Islands.

The Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the David Suzuki Foundation and others have petitioned the federal government to curtail sport fishing and whale watching in orca-feeding areas.

DFO is expected to announce more conservative measures soon.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

PHOTOS: Tour de Victoria takes off

1,800 cyclists took off in the Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria for a city-wide loop

Crash snarles traffic on Highway 17

Traffic southbound is seriously delayed and northbound down to one lane on… Continue reading

Sooke players horsing around

Rick Stiebel – Sooke News Mirror Local players are aiming to put… Continue reading

Local and international artists paint murals across Victoria

Sixteen murals are spread out across downtown Victoria as part of the ‘concrete canvas’ project

First responders, police march in funeral procession for Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid for study to understand Canadian attitudes

These are the highest-paid actresses of 2018

In its list released this week Forbes said all 10 earned a total of $186 million before tax

VIDEO: Fires break out in scrap piles at mill on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo firefighters got blazes under control in early morning hours Saturday at Harmac Pacific

Most Read