West coast only option for fishery

  • Feb. 9, 2005 8:00 p.m.

Herring spawn-on-kelp licence holders from the islands will have to take their chances fishing on the stormy waters of the west coast this year if they want to harvest anything.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has closed the traditional fishing grounds off the east coast of Moresby Island due an extremely low forecasted herring return. DFO regional spawn-on-kelp coordinator Steven Groves said the decision to redirect the fishery to the west coast was made in consultation with the 10 local licence holders.
The west coast has always been open during the spring herring fishery, but fishermen usually don’t go there because the weather is so volatile and there seem to be less herring, Mr. Groves said. This year, it will be their only option if they want to fish.
Spawn-on-kelp licence holders who don’t want to fish on the west coast can apply to DFO to waive their $10,000 annual licence fee in exchange for a zero quota, Mr. Groves said. This is a special measure in effect for this year only.
For the fishermen who do venture to the west coast, DFO is allowing a full unrestricted fishery, he said, which means they can set up as many closed ponds as they want. Each licence holder is allowed to harvest up to eight tons of spawn-on-kelp.
The Haida Nation may harvest spawn-on-kelp from the east coast for food, social and ceremonial purposes, Mr. Groves said, because the impact of this fishery is much lower than the commercial fishery.
DFO scientists are not sure why the herring returns are expected to be so low this year, Mr. Groves said, although it does appear to be part of a downward cycle.
“It’s a very difficult thing to try and put your finger on,” he said. “We believe it’s an environmental variation.”
Mr. Groves said it was not possible to say whether the low returns were caused by past overfishing, although he did say that the DFO uses precautionary principles in setting quotas.
Scientists are predicting that only 5,400 tons of herring will return to the waters around Haida Gwaii this spring – less than half the 12,740 tons predicted for last year.
“It’s the lowest return on record,” Mr. Groves said. “It’s a real serious conservation issue. DFO is very concerned.”
Although the commercial roe herring fishery has been closed for the past three years, it is unusual for the local spawn-on-kelp fishery to be closed. Mr. Groves said he believed it had only been closed twice in the past two decades.

Just Posted

Queen Charlotte name change will be a long process

Mayor says conversations still to be had with all residents

Haida Gwaii support workers strike deal with school district

New agreement will be in effect for the next three years

Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital to get secure room for psychiatric patients

Cost anticipated at close to $1 million for Masset hospital

B.C. oil tanker ban squeaks through final vote in Senate

Bill C-48 bars oil tankers from loading at ports on B.C’s north coast

Queen Charlotte explores banning single use plastics

Council seeking community input on options to reduce plastic waste

WATCH: Killer whale has the final catch in Prince Rupert waters

Fishing duel sees salmon stolen by eager orca

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from B.C. furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Rising gas prices force B.C. residents to rethink summer road trips: poll

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

Most Read