Paul Pudwell/Sooke Coastal Explorations

No fish zones eyed to save killer whales along south coast

DFO proposes closing an area from Sheringham Point to East Point

A proposal by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to halt and reverse the decline of endangered, salmon-eating killer whales is coming at the cost of the recreation fishery, say local anglers.

The objectives of the proposed measures is to curtail sport fishing in feeding areas essential to the survival of the southern resident killer whales and to restrict fishing on specific chinook salmon populations that sustain the orcas, according to DFO.

The plan also calls for minimizing “physical and acoustic” contact in key foraging areas. It would only limit recreational fishing vessels.

RELATED: 225,000 chinook salmon will be released

DFO is proposing implementing salmon fishing or fin closure on a trial basis from May to September in four key areas: the mouth of the Fraser River, west side of Pender Island, south side of Saturna Island and the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Sheringham Point to East Point.

Monitoring is planned to compare southern resident killer whales foraging behaviour in neighbouring areas, which will remain open to fin fish.

“We’re not adverse to the closure. We’d prefer not to see them,” said Chris Bos, president of the South Vancouver Island Anglers Association and chair of the Sport Fishing Advisory board.

“We don’t see the merit of closing access to recreational fishing boats when everybody else can go out in that area too. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

The anglers will propose changes to DFO such as a bubble zone that when the killer whales near fishing areas, recreational fishers will move to give the orcas a quiet refuge and feeding area.

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

Capital Regional District Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks said the proposed closure will be “devastating” to Sooke recreational guides and fishers.

“Many local fishers, myself included, would argue that orcas are not present in this particular area for most of the summer and a closure will not result in any measurable increase in chinook or acoustic disturbance,” Hicks wrote in a letter to DFO.

“It is my belief that your monitoring will confirm that southern resident killer whales will travel and forage wherever the highest concentration of chinook are prevalent.”

The southern resident killer whales are genetically and culturally distinct population that feed on salmon, rather than on marine animals.

There are only 76 members of the southern resident group left, down from 83 years ago, according to the Center for Whale Research in Washington state.

The southern resident group is listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act.

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.

The Sport Fishing Advisory Board will host a special meeting on the DFO proposals on March 6 at the Prestige Hotel. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. DFO will also accept feedback on the proposals. You can email Ashley Dobko at ashley.dobko@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Nurse comes home to ‘dream job’ at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

Jane Fox is the first Aboriginal liaison nurse at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital

Key tag program leads to new respirator at Jubilee Hospital

TB Vets donate 28 life-saving respirators around B.C.

PHOTOS: Thousands show for 40th GoodLife Marathon in downtown Victoria

New records, first-time runners, and stories of resilience

Mother of alleged hit-and-run victim hopes municipalities will work together to improve crosswalk

Young woman injured, dog killed when struck by driver on marked crosswalk at Foul Bay Road

Here comes the rain: Victoria can expect post Thanksgiving showers all week

Mild, rainy weather expected from Tuesday to Saturday

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Dog killed in alleged hit and run, Goodlife Marathon takes over city and more

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Children’s Hospital launches 2 new virtual care sites bringing total to 19 across province

Provincial initiative allows pediatric patients to see health specialists through video

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

Most Read