POWELL RIVER, B.C. – A Powell River sport fisherman and business owner is taking issues with Chinook salmon restrictions implemented by the federal government.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) restrictions list the daily limit for Chinook salmon in Area 15 (Powell River, Texada Island) as one.
The same restriction applies for Area 13 (Campbell River and Cortes, Sonora, Quadra Islands) and Area 14 (Comox, Parksville, Denman and Hornby Islands).
In Area 12 (Port Hardy, Robson Bight), the daily limit is two.
The daily limit represents how many fish someone can keep in one day.
“We had 20 years of pretty slow fishing, but in about the last five years, in Powell River, the fishing has never been better,” said Sam Sansalone, operator of Powell River Outdoors.
“Basically what’s happened is, you know, scientists have said that apparently some of the resident whales don’t have enough food. Most people keep two Chinook salmon a day, and they’ve (the DFO) cut that down to one.”
Sansalone said he has been involved in the fishing industry for almost 30 years.
“A lot of people probably aren’t going to go fishing as much, so that’s one of the reasons that people are concerned as far as sport fishing businesses go,” he said.
Sansalone noted that fishermen are allowed to keep one Chinook salmon per fishing license per day.
“You’re allowed to have on you a two-day possession’s worth provided you’re staying overnight somewhere,” he said.
“If you come out to Powell River, and you stay two days, you can go home with two Chinook salmon. If you’re staying for one day, you can take one salmon home, providing it’s legal size.”
In Area 15, the minimum size for legal Chinook is 62 centimetres.
Sansalone said fishing is a huge sector in British Columbia.
“In my opinion, governments, local cities and councils in some areas have no idea how big the industry is. It’s huge!”
He said that one Chinook salmon per day is not necessarily a bad thing, though, as it does not affect fishermen’s annual possession limit.
“Going forward, what’s going to happen is people are going to be handling more salmon. I’m guessing more people are going to want a bigger fish,” he said.
“To minimize the harm to fish, if you’re not going to keep a fish, whether it’s the size or it’s undersized, you’re best not to net them. You’re best to try to release them in the water. In the end, I think we will all adapt to it (the daily possession limit).”
Sansalone said in the past, the limits have actually been too high.
“I think DFO set the limits too high to start, so basically we got from a lot to nothing. It used to be four Chinook possession, or just two a day,” he said.
Further details on fish restrictions can be found via the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada website at pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca.