Emergency SFAB Meetings About Proposed SRKW Fishing Closures

Discussion in 'Saltwater Fishing Forum' started by Whole in the Water, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. searun

    searun Well-Known Member

    PART 2: WCFGA Letter

    3. Area Closures – Recreational Input

    Non-fishers might think that areas popular and successful for recreational fishing also provide the same prey acquisition success for SRKW. The facts are, recreational fishers rely upon Chinook encountering and actively feeding upon baitfish to be successful. Whereas, SRKW do not require feeding Chinook to be successful – often targeting Chinook that are actively migrating near the surface. Thus areas important for SRKW feeding success are not necessarily the same areas utilized by recreational fishers. Therefore, Area Closures based upon locations frequented by recreational fishers are not necessarily effectively protecting habitat areas critical to SRKW who take advantage of different environments and spatial areas to acquire prey.

    Area Closures are an unnecessary management tool, because recreational fishers engaged in salmon trolling do so with small auxiliary motors (most popular being 9.9 hp). These auxiliary motors are ultra quiet, and as such create very limited acoustic profiles. Therefore, Area Closures do not afford appreciable benefits for SRKW.

    Additionally, fishing sounders are most effective at a 200kHz range for deeper water, which is less impactful than lower kHz ranges. Notwithstanding, we are recommending sounders be turned off when whales are in the vicinity of recreational fishing to reduce acoustic disturbance to improve prey acquisition.

    Area closures are not an effective tool because they fail to address the fact that whales range widely in their search for food. They do nothing when whales are not present in these locations. A 400m bubble zone strategy is far more effective at providing mobile protection for whales throughout their range.

    Additionally, Area Closures based on “fin fish” (total closures), are highly impactful to other recreational fisheries such as halibut. Halibut fisheries are distinctly different from salmon fisheries because the majority of halibut fishing takes place while the vessel is on anchor, therefore little acoustic or physical disturbance impacts are associated with this fishery. Where it is felt Area Closures are necessary to determine if there are quantifiable benefits accruing to them, we believe that “fin fish” closures are not necessary. Salmon Area Closures would be a far less impactful way to achieve the desired outcome.

    Sooke Chapter Input:

    WCFGA has a close association with the Sooke Charter Boat Association. Our membership in Sooke feels strongly that the proposed management measures for areas 20-3 and 20-4, as currently written, have significant impact on both salmon and ground fish fisheries for Area 20 Recreational anglers. The area around Sheringham Point is one of the most heavily fished locations in the area. This location is of critical importance to the Area 20 fishery. The proposed Area 20-4\20-5 boundary cuts right through the middle of the trolling zone. Splitting the normal fishing area by using Sheringham Point as the boundary will present difficulty as vessel operators will be required to turn, in the middle of the fishing zone, creating confusion and potential enforcement problems.

    We request consideration to the following amendments:

    · Relocate the proposed eastern boundary of 20-4, from Sheringham Point west approximately 5 km to Fossil Point

    · Replace “fin fish” closure, with a “No salmon fishing” closure, enabling the recreational halibut fishery to continue

    · Alternatively, allow a recreational Halibut only (at anchor) opportunity May 1st to Jun 15th, implementing the full “fin fish” closure commencing Jun. 15

    Additionally, with respect to the proposed study of the adjacent area opened to recreational fishing to provide comparative data to assess effectiveness of Area Closures we strongly recommend that no whale watching operations be allowed into the study area. The proposed study methodology is flawed from the standpoint it allows other vessel operations, such as whale watching, into the area being assessed to determine the impact differences between areas where recreational fishing activity takes place, and areas that are closed. The proposed study methodology is badly flawed as it will allow whale watching impacts to be super-imposed upon the intended study results for the recreational fishery alone.

    Vancouver Chapter Input:

    The WCFGA also has a close association with the Vancouver Fishing Guide’s Association. Members in the Area 29 are supportive of proposed management measures with a number of key provisos. The most important of which warrants calling out separately from the others. That is – Area Closures in Area 29 are not to extend into Area 29-3 and 29-4. These portions of Area 29 are of special significance to recreational fishers. Expanding the Area Closures into these portions would seriously impact community support for the current management proposal.

    In addition, we agree with testing the Area 29 closures to allow SRKW foraging, so long as this is combined with the following:

    1. 400m bubble zone strategy detailed earlier in this document

    2. Measures to similarly restrict (close) whale watching activities within the Area Closures

    3. Significant effort to explore every reasonable means to address pinniped predation – this is the number one issue raised in the public consultation meeting feedback

    4. Restrictions on large commercial vessel traffic to significantly reduce speed which will in turn diminish acoustic disturbance

    5. Reductions in pollution from sewage outflow from the GVRD through enhanced treatment to lessen impacts

    6. Closing Areas 29-6; 29-7; 29-9; 29-10 to all commercial crabbing as these are critical forage habitat for SRKW, and the intense crab fishery contributes serious physical and acoustic disturbance for whales
    Englishman, Nola, getbent and 2 others like this.
  2. searun

    searun Well-Known Member

    PART 3: WCFGA Letter

    4. Chinook Net Pen Offset:

    Although a statistically significant attribution between declining Chinook abundance and SRKW abundance has not been clearly established as a cause and effect relationship, the recreational community recognizes declines in Chinook abundance may place environmental carrying capacity limitations on SRKW populations. Reasons behind declines in Chinook abundance are many and complex, as is the relationship between that and SRKW population dynamics. Finding Chinook recovery strategies that will have the rapid cycle time required to benefit SRKW are limited in the short term.

    One solution already in place, with potential to expand rapidly is raising Chinook in ocean net pens for release. The Sooke Net Pen Project is one such tool. Chinook raised in the Sooke Net Pens will return to the net pen area providing prey sources to offset removals from the recreational fishery. Much like Carbon Offsets, the Chinook Net Pen Offsets function to help replace prey removals. Our goal would be to provide an immediate interim step that effectively provides SRKW populations with access to prey.

    Net pens would be a temporary strategy until other longer-term Chinook recovery strategies deliver results.

    5. Hatchery Augmentation:

    The recreational community currently works in partnership with DFO to provide broodstock to increase augmentation efforts. Hatcheries provide relatively fast opportunity to increase adult recruitment improving prey availability. There is recent indication that S-1 programs are achieving higher smolt to adult success. We would recommend increasing deployment of S-1 hatchery programs in local river systems adjacent to critical SRKW habitat areas, as well as for Chinook populations known such as the South Thompson to significantly contribute to SRKW prey.

    Perhaps a mix (50/50) of S-1 and S-0 programs would be an effective approach to ensure the recovery program has a balanced opportunity for success. In other words, not placing all our eggs into one basket while exploring a different approach to producing smaller, healthier and faster S-1 smolts that are less desirable to pinnipeds as prey, and therefore have improved early sea entry success than their S-0 counterparts.

    One of the SRKW prey preferences is larger age 4 or 5 Chinook. Over the past 2 decades the average size of Chinook has been steadily decreasing. This could be the result of hatchery practices that are not selecting and matching large fish together. WCFGA also proposes that DFO initiate a selective brood stock program to match large brood fish to encourage genetic selection to produce larger fish.

    6. Pinniped Control:

    Populations of pinnipeds on the South Coast are now at historic high levels. It is well documented that pinnipeds are directly competing with SRKW for available Chinook. A scientific review panel concluded that even if there was a complete ocean fishery closure, any additional Chinook prey would not likely be available to SRKW’s because pinnipeds would out-compete them.

    Further, in recent times pinnipeds are being observed in increasing numbers waiting at estuaries for outbound salmonid smolts. Pinniped predation likely accounts for some of the more significant impacts to Chinook availability to SRKW. A recent study estimated that 45% of Chinook smolt mortality is attributed to pinniped predation.

    Consultation feedback was universally supportive of pinniped control as the number one outcome based measure that could be deployed to deliver the most significant improvement for both Chinook and SRKW’s prey availability.

    Another important observation shift is pinnipeds are now venturing well into fresh water river systems in search of smolts and adult salmonids like steelhead. These new feeding habits represent a new threat to Chinook abundance.

    Of interest, specific runs of Chinook from the Upper and Lower Fraser River and lower Vancouver Island comprise a significant prey source for SRKW. We have noticed a pattern of river systems where Chinook leave their home river shortly after emerging as fry experience higher ocean survival as compared to those that out-migrate as yearling smolts. It follows that out-migrating smolts that are larger in size represent more desirable and easier prey for harbour seals to acquire. Interestingly, Chinook runs from river systems that produce larger yearling smolts generally experience lower ocean survival – likely related to harbour seal predation.

    Steelhead out-migrate as large smolts, and given their small population sizes have been observed in a serious state of decline and extirpation. We view steelhead as a harbinger of the full impact of pinniped predation, and predict the fate of Chinook will shortly follow a similar path if we do not take action to control pinniped predation.

    WCFGA strongly recommends the Department explore implementation methods of pinniped population control including non-lethal reproductive control.
    Englishman, Nola, getbent and 3 others like this.
  3. searun

    searun Well-Known Member

    PART 4: WCFGA Letter

    7. Reduce Food Chain Removals to Increase Available Food for Chinook & SRKW:

    The food web along the coast of BC is comprised of a complex set of interdependent species. There are several commercial fisheries targeting various elements of the food web. Herring have been identified as an important food source for SRKW’s. The Commercial Exploitation Rate (ER) has historically been 20% of the predicted abundance. Given herring are a vital food source for both SRKW and Chinook, the current ER for commercial exploitation of herring should be reduced to 10% from the current 20%.

    Decreasing removals of various species within the food web that in aggregate contribute to Chinook abundance, and most importantly, successful ocean survival to adult stage, would thereby provide increased prey opportunity for SRKW’s. WCFGA recommends immediate reductions or cessation of the following commercial fisheries:

    o Herring

    o Krill

    o Crab (crab larvae are a significant prey source for salmonids)

    8. Habitat:

    Several examples exist today where habitat improvement projects have resulted in improved Chinook returns. This is a longer-term strategy, and projects must be tailored to improve those critical habitat needs specific to Chinook. An example of a successful habitat project is the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island. The 2017 return of Chinook to the Cowichan is expected to reach approximately 30,000. This is thought to be largely the result of a slope stabilization project to abate a clay bank erosion problem responsible for serious sedimentation problems.

    We also recommend the Department reinstates small community enhancement programs aimed at engaging public living in small Conservation Units (CU’s). The cumulative impact of these small stream improvements and local enhancement projects adds up to the wider scale Chinook abundance recovery that will benefit SRKW populations. There are several working examples of communities coming together to help manage fisheries. We recommend DFO expand local CU community management groups like the Area 23 Harvest Round Table. Much can be gained by engaging all stakeholders (Recreational, First Nations, Commercial, Conservationists, Stream Keepers) to apply their local knowledge and passion to improving management of local area CU’s.

    Additionally, we recommend that the Department actively explore stream fertilization to help enhance natural productive carrying capacity of invertebrates that form the base food chain for salmonids in fresh water. Another freshwater impact is the acidification of our rivers. PH testing and control measures should be actively explored to again enhance the carrying capacity of key Chinook river systems.

    9. Guide Log Book Observations:

    The WCFGA has been a strong proponent and partner in helping the Department in partnership with the SFI to increase guide participation in the log book and DNA sampling program.

    One key data opportunity would be to also ask guides to note Killer Whale observations in their log books. With some guidance from the Department, guides can document additional observations of whale encounters to augment research underway with respect to interactions between recreational fishing activity and whales.

    The WCFGA believes this would be a positive opportunity for our members to assist.

    Funding Strategy:

    SRKW Conservation Fund:

    The WCFGA proposes to create a SRKW Conservation Fund, which will be created to collect and gather financial resources to be used to increase Chinook to be available as prey for whales. The fund could also be employed to address targeted habitat improvement projects.

    The fund would be created through an additional SRKW conservation fee ($5) added to each tidal water sport fishing license. Additionally, we propose the same fee would be charged to each passenger on Whale Watching Tours by way of a license issued to each operator to collect and submit a passenger fee.
    bigdogeh, Englishman, Nola and 5 others like this.
  4. ziggy

    ziggy Well-Known Member

    Awesome job! Now area 18 and 19 fishers need to push for similar Area Closure amendments. Otherwise they will become the low hanging fruit for DFO. Hope everyone in these areas takes the time to demand their MP’s represent their interest (Elizabeth May needs a cause lol)and make sure you let the minister know as well! Don’t forget to remind them we are already one,if not the most Restricted areas on the coast.
    BCTony likes this.
  5. searun

    searun Well-Known Member

    Please take whatever ideas from the letter that you find helpful, and use them to construct your own input. The more ideas the better in terms of finding a diverse ecosystem centric set of solutions.

    The problem with how DFO and people in general approach trying to manage these fisheries is we do not apply the right thinking. Humans tend to understand their world, and solve problems from a desire to attach tags to problems to make them simpler to understand. The problem with nature, is ecosystems do not work that way. They are complex, inter-dependent relationships. When humans apply singular thinking to attach tags that make them easy to understand, we only focus on one or two of those complex relationships. Nature unfortunately does not fit those...it requires us to suspend our comfort, and think in terms of solving a number of complex inter-dependent problems.

    Long way around to say this....the SRKW problem (and Chinook abundance issue) will not have a silver bullet solution - it will require a diverse plan of action.
    getbent, Pursuit, ziggy and 2 others like this.
  6. ziggy

    ziggy Well-Known Member

    Very well said!
    BCTony likes this.
  7. Pursuit

    Pursuit Active Member

    What a great multi-faceted report recognizing the complexity of the ecosystem the SRKW live in. This must represent a lot of hard work and clear thinking by a bunch of people. Well done and thank you.
    BCTony likes this.
  8. BCTony

    BCTony Member

    This statement is not strictly correct. Sounders using lower frequencies are more effective in deeper waters. That said, a sounder at 200kHz will normally have sufficient range for the purposes of salmon fishing and is probably the sounder frequency most utilised by salmon anglers.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  9. wolf

    wolf Well-Known Member

    REALLY you want to debate about a sounder and a transducer capability?? cmon man thats the last thing we need to worry about ...Do you realize we are in deep trouble here. I for one will turn of my sounder to let them pass I really dont care ..ill follow what is said if it puts me on the water....
  10. BCTony

    BCTony Member

    No – not at all. I was merely trying to correct an error of fact that was perhaps correctable before the letter of response was dispatched. The response was excellent.
  11. high tide

    high tide Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much to Searun and Wolf .... VERY WELL PUT GUYS !

    Sent another letter today.

    Pretty pathetic DFO and All past Federal Managers not dealing with the TRUE ISSUES.

    HENCE why we are where we are.
  12. searun

    searun Well-Known Member

    Thanks, we are very blessed to have a number of members who are actively involved in their local communities, and whom also have a great deal of experience that we were able to draw from to construct advice regarding how to approach this challenging issue. The more we can share ideas, partner with similar minded organizations, and draw out golden nuggets that can be shared out the better. Additionally, there was a number of great ideas generated here on this forum.

    We are hopeful that people can take the time to draft a response to send in. Please.

    DFO does plan to form a SRKW-Chinook Committee - they will no doubt receive much of the public feedback and help the Department synthesize that into future management measures. The rec community will have 2 members who have been nominated from the SFAB to participate. Every bit of advice that comes in from rec sector folks like all of us will help!!

    Here's the reference from the SRKW Discussion Paper that DFO published, your input is important:

    The Department is also planning on forming a SRKW-Chinook committee with participants from the Department, First Nations, Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB), Commercial Salmon Advisory Board (CSAB), Marine Conservation Caucus (MCC) and Province of BC to review and discuss feedback on the proposed management measures, discuss other management measures, information required to support discussion and opportunities to coordinate salmon fishery activities with other SRKW recovery measures. This committee is intended to assist the Department by supporting discussions on potential management measures that could be implemented and will not be a decision making body. Specific measures that may be considered by the Department will be consulted on with First Nations and stakeholders through the existing salmon IFMP development process.
    Derby, Nola and wildmanyeah like this.
  13. spring fever

    spring fever Well-Known Member

    Great report Searun!!!
  14. Cuba Libre

    Cuba Libre Well-Known Member

    The only omission I see is the lack of a recommendation for a public education program telling the public ( including whale watching charter operators and guests ) why the whales need our help and what needs to be done. Its should also say what we as anglers are willing to do , to be part of the solution. Great job WCFGA.
    wildmanyeah, getbent and searun like this.
  15. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

    CL, if you weren't a CA you should have been;)
  16. oldtimer

    oldtimer Active Member

    I think that we are giving the DFO too much credit for their 11th hour media forced, sudden involvement in trying to solve this Seal and starving Orca problem. They have been aware of the Seal and Sea Lion problem in the Gulf of Georgia for 30 plus years, yet they have chosen to do nothing about it. Twenty or more years I have been writing to the DFO about this problem with no response. In the meantime, the Seal population in the Gulf of Georgia has grown 10 fold during that time frame. They got rid of the Seals at the mouth of the Puntledge in Courtenay, why can't they get rid of the Seals in the Fraser River estuary using the same means? Christ this is not rocket science why can't they just connect the dots?
    IronNoggin likes this.
  17. Gear'n'beer!

    Gear'n'beer! Well-Known Member

    Hey Dave why don't you take your nonsensical one word sentences back to the pro fish farm threads where you belong.
  18. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

    Sorry, lets try again so you understand. Nothing to do with fish farms, more of a compliment to Cuba Libre.

    Cuba Libre, if you weren't a Community Advisor you should have been. He probably knows what I said ...
  19. Gear'n'beer!

    Gear'n'beer! Well-Known Member

    No I apologize. Your posts are so informative and educational that I completely feel like I don't understand.

    Carry on....

    Your post history speaks for itself.
    fogged in likes this.
  20. Admin

    Admin Admin Staff Member

    Do not start derailing this thread with personal attacks...this constantly having to remind members to keep their opinion of another member out of the public conversation is ridiculous.
    Fishtofino likes this.

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