Ottawa is getting mixed reactions to its plan to protect southern resident killer whales by putting limits on Chinook salmon fishing, the orcas’ primary food.

“This notion that somehow you can simply say well if everyone stopped fishing, the whales would be better off or the fish would be better off simply makes no sense,” says the Chair of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board, Gerry Kristianson.

Kristianson says while the group wants to be part of the solution, he fears the fishing community is being unfairly singled out.

“Whale watchers, commercial crab fishing, all these other things continue to take place… this will mean that in effect the recreational fishery is being sacrificed when others are not being asked to make the same contribution.”

In the announcement, the Ministry of Fisheries says they will be implementing “a reduction in the total fishery removals of chinook salmon of 25-35 percent,” and placing “fishery closures for recreational finfish and commercial salmon fisheries in portions of the Strait of Juan De Fuca and portions of the Gulf Islands.”

But the director of the Watershed Salmon Watch Society says 35 per cent isn’t going far enough.

“There’s this huge array of threats so when we’re confronting these threats we need to address the ones that we can and certainly reduce the over-fishing of these endangered Chinook population is something we can do right now,” says Aaron Hill.

“[Chinook Salmon] are in severe crisis and so there really isn’t any fishing to be done on them at all,” he adds.

There still many questions surrounding this plan that have not yet been answered including how it will be implemented and where. Those are details expected to come out in the coming weeks.

The Sport Fishing Advisory Board would like to see the government work to produce more Chinook salmon rather than limiting anglers.

Isabelle Raghem