Thompson River Steelhead are effectively done.

Discussion in 'Conservation, Fishery Politics and Management.' started by OldBlackDog, Oct 28, 2017.

  1. OldBlackDog

    OldBlackDog Well-Known Member

    The projection for the return of Thompson Steelhead is 133.

    That is the projection, and with all the netting going on, i would not expect this number to be reached.

    Neither government is doing anything about it.

    There is no screaming about it by groups.

    So, say goodbye to this iconic run of Steelhead.

    The skeena will be next as if people could not save this run so close to the politicians, not much hope in the far north.

  2. Derby

    Derby Well-Known Member

    Actually there is a lot of groups trying to do everything they can to stop the intercept fisheries & build a plan of action to turn the slide around.... SFAB and a coalition of fresh water groups like BCFDF & BC wildlife federation have been working very hard to stop these fisheries ...short of burning a cross on the front lawn of government... (Perhaps not a bad idea?).both DFO and the Ministry don't give a flying shit about steelhead as neither can get there crap together but to carry on as usual...:(
  3. OldBlackDog

    OldBlackDog Well-Known Member

  4. Derby

    Derby Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that..yup pretty well sums it it....
  5. SpringVelocity

    SpringVelocity Well-Known Member

    Wow stopping hatcheries is great. Remember when cowichan had hatchery steelhead. Fishing was just horrible. It is way better now really cuts down on anglers when there is hardly any wild fish as we all call them. You know those fish we raised and didn't cut the fin off?
  6. OldBlackDog

    OldBlackDog Well-Known Member

    Comment: Fraser River chum salmon unsustainable fishery
    On Oct. 24, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans opened a commercial gillnet fishery for Fraser River chum salmon, one of B.C.’s most unsustainable fisheries.

    While chum are the only species that remain abundant enough to have a commercial fishery on the Fraser River, these fish migrate through the lower Fraser, where the gillnet harvest will be conducted at the same time as Thompson and Chilko rivers’ steelhead return. In the process of conducting this commercial fishery, steelhead will be captured as by-catch. These iconic runs of steelhead have been posting record lows over the past decade, and much of this has to do with the commercial chum-salmon fishery.

    The Fraser River is the longest river within British Columbia, starting near Mount Robson and travelling more than 1,300 kilometres into the Strait of Georgia. It is one of the most famous salmon rivers in North America, documented through history as an essential component of life for many First Nations, and a route for B.C.’s earliest commerce and industry. It is also a Canadian Heritage River; today, its basins are home to two-thirds of B.C.’s increasing human population.

    Once the economic engine of the town of Spences Bridge, the Thompson River steelhead has declined from more than 7,000 returning to the Fraser in the 1980s to a mere 430 reaching the spawning beds in 2016. Chilko River steelhead numbered as many as 5,000 returning in the 1980s, but only 134 fish returned in 2016.

    Fishing has been catch and release since the ’90s, and fishing is now closed. This year’s in-season spawning population forecast is 165 for the Thompson and 50 for the Chilcotin — these fish are on the verge of extirpation.

    It isn’t just steelhead. Sockeye have been posting record lows, chinook have been in long-term decline, and coho have been on life support since the ’90s. Even pink salmon, which are normally abundant, failed to return this year. There has been no commercial or recreational fishery for any of these species in the Fraser this year.

    It seems chum are the only species that are still around in meaningful numbers. It could be because these fish are less desirable, often being sold as canned or smoked salmon. Through no fault of their own, steelhead return in the fall at the same time as chum salmon; when there are gillnets in the water for chum, steelhead are being caught.

    Federal and provincial governments continue to approve and support these commercial net fisheries, with added clout through the Marine Stewardship Council certification. The certification allows Canada to sell its fish worldwide with a label that implies it’s sustainable. While the chum fishery might be sustainable for the targeted species, it sure isn’t for our almost extirpated Interior steelhead.

    The provincial steelhead experts estimate as many as 50 per cent of the Thompson- and Chilcotin-bound steelhead are intercepted in nets, and of those, half die. This year, the province estimates 20 per cent of the steelhead swimming for their spawning grounds will be killed through fishing mortality (nets). Naturally, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans will downplay the effect nets have on steelhead, citing poor data and reduced interception in recent years.

    The “poor data” argument is probably true; both the province and federal government have been offering that answer to all of the fisheries crises we are having. The fisheries science for these runs of fish has been abysmal. This should come as no surprise: Both governments have a long track record of cutting staff and budgets, making good decisions all but impossible.

    It also makes sense that interception has gone down; with a few hundred steelhead returning when there used to be thousands, we would expect very few to end up in nets — that still doesn’t make it sustainable.

    Thompson and Chilko steelhead are a canary in the coal mine, like our mountain caribou, another species being rapidly extirpated due to our lack of support for these biological treasures. While there have long been calls for studies, independent reviews and recommendations dating back to the 1980s, there is no funding, no plan and no action. We are managing these fish to zero.

    It’s time to change our practices, develop a science-based recovery, and focus on adequately funding and managing our salmon and steelhead for future generations of British Columbians. It’s time to list the Thompson and Chilko Steelhead under the Species At Risk Act and stop the needless interception.

    This fall, when you see chum salmon in stores, consider what you are buying. When we are down to a couple of hundred steelhead, can we really afford to lose any more?

    Jesse Zeman is director of the B.C. Wildlife Federation’s Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program.
  7. bigdogeh

    bigdogeh Well-Known Member

    Pretty sad commentary on the state of our wild salmon and steelhead fisheries. I was one of the lucky ones having been able to enjoy more than a few great days with a few magnificent Thompson Steelhead on the end of my line. Sadly I doubt my grandchildren will be able to share that opportunity.
  8. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

    It's far more than interior steelhead that are bearing the brunt of these unsustainable chum fisheries ... chum carcasses and the eggs and fry produced from spawning adults are vital to the entire ecosystem of coastal watersheds. I live on the Chilliwack River and every year I am amazed at the number of gulls, eagles, crows, ouzels, etc that are there only for the chums.
  9. Whitebuck

    Whitebuck Well-Known Member

    Worst chum return on northern Fraser tribs in 20yrs. Prob would have been decent if fish could get past the nets. Seeing the netting in the albion area plus below the Harrison on an almost daily basis, its inexcusable that the government has allowed all the other species to be wiped out for the sake of chum roe.

    Whats sad as well is the members of certain fishing groups that have been fishing up on the the Thompson the last 3 weeks.
    These people are supposed to care so much for this stock yet they have no problem pincusioning the last few.
    Need an October 1 closure on the Thomp to stop the multi media heroes to stop harrassing the few fish that make it back. How do you justify fishing a return of a 133 fish...
  10. california

    california Well-Known Member

    Certainly the decline of the Thompson Steelhead has the Chum fisheries as a contributing factor, but the run had been on a steep decline long before those. Agricultural activities, from water diversion to runoff, and other habitat degradation issues are probably more at the root cause of the decline. The big Pivot watering rigs watering alfalfa fields and other crops you see along the river are not going away. Increased logging activities due to pine beetle infestations, erosion of banks and siltation due to riparian zones being destroyed. Global temperature increases have contributed to increased drought periods in the interior as well. An inability to address any of these issues has exacerbated the effect of by-catch on commercial fisheries as the river and its tributaries just aren't very productive habitat for steelhead any more, and may never be.
  11. Langer

    Langer New Member

    There are many factors at work as to the decline in Thompson Steelhead, but until the nets are removed don't expect any significant improvements in the number of returning adults. Even the adults that actually do spawn are also caught in nets during their outward migration as kelts. Implementing a hatchery system is certainly not the answer in this case. That would most certainly be the end of the Thompson Steelhead.
    bigdogeh and Whitebuck like this.
  12. IronNoggin

    IronNoggin Well-Known Member

  13. triplenickel

    triplenickel Well-Known Member

    Look at the pic in that article, Tesla needs to build fishing boats.
  14. UkeeDreamin

    UkeeDreamin Well-Known Member

    There aren’t words strong enough to describe how shameful this is - primarily DFO but also the commie and FN “fishers”partaking. Nothing short of disgusting that DFO will make up a conservation concern related to rec fishing bycatch of sockeye (that’s not supported by any data), when sockeye stocks are depressed, not threatened or endangered, but allow gill net and industrial scale seine fisheries when a number of endangered species are at risk (Interior coho, chilcotin sreelhead and Thompson steelhead).

    With this level of corruption and/or incompetence in the management of OUR fisheries resource a united rec sector should be demanding that heads roll and accountability be shown or we’ll refuse to be managed by an unfit organization!

    If anything is in the works to take a stand or send a strong message (and I don’t mean patiently working within the existing broken system!) let me know where I can sign up or send money!

    Thoroughly pissed-off and disgusted!

  15. Whitebuck

    Whitebuck Well-Known Member

    I know of one FN boat that intercepted 9 steelhead in a few days.
    These fish will come back if the nets stay out the water!!!
  16. chris73

    chris73 Well-Known Member

    And while we are at it, might as well kiss the Fraser Sockeye good night too.
    bones likes this.
  17. UkeeDreamin

    UkeeDreamin Well-Known Member

    I completely disagree - Fraser sockeye are the one thing DFO manage, often @ the expense of other much weaker stocks. Just look @ this years fishery - DFO had fn’s pounding chinook, including some weak stocks, to take pressure off their precious sockeye even though most Fraser Sox stocks are depressed @ worst and no where near threatened or endangered. Meanwhile, despite a wild salmon policy that would suggest otherwise, when there’s an abundance of Fraser socks they pound the shit out of them whether or not it crosses into the timing of weak stocks like Interior coho.

    Fraser sockeye are also somewhat insulated from the habitat travesty that Harper brought in to appease his corporate buddies and that JT has yet to fix despite his promises. Given that they generally spawn in medium to large rivers and rear in very large lakes they aren’t as affected by the rape and pillage of small stream and riparian habitat that’s gone on for the last decade at an accelerated rate. Their life history also insulates them from the provinces mismanagement of our water resource, unlike Thompson and cariboo steelhead, Interior coho and depressed “stream” type chinook which are literally dried up, sucked into farm fields or killed due to temp/ low oxygen because of inadequate instream flows throughout most of their range.

    Sure Sox get poached as much or more than other species but it is very rarely a single harm that causes the decline of a population. The poaching, DFO mismanagement, habitat loss and water woes of those other species and populations is why they’re in so much trouble. Throw in climate change and significant changes to ocean productivity cycles and you can start to hear the death toll ringing.


    bigdogeh and agentaqua like this.
  18. scott craven

    scott craven Well-Known Member

    I think the Fraser Chinook are worse off.
    bones and Whitebuck like this.
  19. OldBlackDog

    OldBlackDog Well-Known Member

    'Extremely close to being gone forever': B.C. fisheries manager says feds failing Interior steelhead
    A record low 290 steelhead are expected to return to the Fraser river in 2017
    An angler holds a Thompson steelhead caught during a previous opening of the limited recreational fishery. (Matt Joyce)
    An iconic fish could soon disappear from British Columbian waters, according to the province's fisheries manager, who worries Thompson River steelhead may be on the brink of collapse.

    Mike Ramsay, assistant director of B.C's Fish and Game branch, said if management practices in the federally regulated commercial salmon fishery don't change, Thompson steelhead may not be able to recover from low returns.

    Officials estimate a record low number of steelhead — just 290 — will return from the ocean to the Fraser River and eventually into the Thompson watershed this year.

    Each year, up to a quarter of the returning fish are killed because they get caught in commercial fishing gillnets that target chum salmon, according to provincial estimates.

    'Every steelhead now is critically important'
    The steelhead in the Thompson River are some of the most prized in the world, but numbers are declining rapidly and conservationists fear they could soon be lost forever. (Sean Mahar)

    Steelhead are anadromous rainbow trout, which means they spend much of their lives at sea. British Columbia has over 30 wild steelhead stocks, but likely none so famous as the Thompson run.

    Thompson steelhead are, on average, larger, stronger and faster than other wild steelhead. Anglers come to B.C to fish the Skeena River and other famous steelhead rivers but fishing for elusive Thomspon steelhead has long been considered a superior angling experience.

    "With their slim bodies and large tails, they're perfectly designed for angling. That, combined with their aggressive behavior makes then the perfect sport fish," said Trevor Welton, vice president of the Steelhead Society of B.C.

    Up to two-thirds of the economic value of the steelhead fishery in communities along the Thompson has been lost because of closures of the recreational fishery, according to estimates by the Fraser Basin Council, a non-profit conservation group. There is no commercial steelhead food fishery in B.C.. Steelhead in restaurants and grocery stores are a farmed variety.

    "While Thompson River steelhead do not hold a specific commercial food value, they are the heart and soul of Interior communities, businesses and anglers from all around the world," said Cody Sojka, a director with the Steelhead Society of B.C.

    Caught in nets
    Scientists warn warming oceans have become an increasingly hostile place for salmon and steelhead, which have seen record low returns in a number of fisheries this year.

    The province, anglers and the DFO all said warming oceans are the biggest threat facing steelhead.

    But the next biggest challenge is getting past the commercial gillnets that target salmon along the Fraser River which the fish must do to get to their spawning grounds.

    Because Fraser River steelhead and chum salmon returns coincide each fall, the DFO is tasked with reducing the bycatch of steelhead in commercial nets.

    Steelhead are only slightly smaller than chum and many are caught in gill nets which can fatally injure the fish even when they are released.

    Conservationists and anglers are calling for either major changes or complete closure of the chum fishery, saying the steelhead need time to recover.

    They've written to both levels of government urging the government to either amend, delay or close the chum fishery.

    For its part, the provincial ministry has worked on habitat restoration and already closed the historically lucrative recreational steelhead fishery along the Thompson River.

    The Cook Ferry First Nation voluntarily did not participate in the economic chum fishery on the Fraser this year out of concern for steelhead.

    British Columbia 'icon'
    Anglers often remind each other to 'keep 'em wet,' or keep the fish in the water while removing the hook to protect steelhead from injury and stress. (Matt Joyce)

    The province is in charge of steelhead management, but the DFO manages salmon through their entire lifecycle, including when they are in freshwater returning to spawn.

    Each season, the province advises the DFO on the state of steelhead, and the federal department is supposed to take that advice into account when creating a fisheries management plan for salmon.

    Dean Allan, the manager of the Fraser Interior region for the DFO, said the province's recommendations were taken into account when the decision was made to open gillnet chum fisheries along the Fraser.

    The DFO has made a number of changes to the chum fishery since the 1980s, including regulating net sizes, restricting opening times and even delaying the chum opening to reduce overlap of the fishery with steelhead returns.

    But Ramsay said the DFO isn't doing enough.

    He's concerned the mortality rate of Thompson steelhead is too high for the stock to sustain itself.

    "The fishing plan was probably appropriate when there were thousands of Thompson steelhead coming," he said
  20. Langer

    Langer New Member

    I am sure everything boils down to the all mighty dollar, but why is it not being considered to get rid of nets and shift to troll fisheries? No matter where you go the net fisheries are way too efficient, they catch everything in their path and can wipe out runs very quickly.
    bigdogeh and Whitebuck like this.

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