Port Renfrew fishing charters shocked by ‘last minute’ Chinook measures

Port Renfrew fishing charters shocked by 'last minute' Chinook measures

With the start of the Chinook salmon fishing season just days away, anglers in the Port Renfrew area say they have been dealt a blow from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

They are the bread and butter for most Port Renfrew fishing charters.

“For the most part I’ve built my business around sport fishing for Chinook salmon,” says Matt Wiley, owner of Wiley’s Sport Fishing.

Instead of being allowed to take back two salmon per day, operators will only be allowed one this season. It’s a sudden move catching many off guard.

“I think it’s only fair that we know what rules we have going into the season since my clients are all buying their fishing licenses and supporting the economy and flying here from Alberta, California, Ontario, Washington,” says Wiley.

For charter operators like Wiley, whose guests booked months in advance in the hopes of scoring multiple chinook, the cuts could lead to cancellations and lost revenue.

“Expenses are $60,000 to be able to fish up here for a season, so if we put out all this money to get the season going ,and unfortunately the rules change and my clients cancel — I mean, this is my livelihood and this is how I make my money. So it can be tough,” says Wiley.

The measures, which cover the section of the Juan de Fuca Straight from Port Renfrew to the Bonilla Point Lighthouse, also include size limits. With the recent DFO changes, Salmon caught now have to be between 45 to 80 centimetres.

In a statement, Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it’s implementing the new fishery management measures “to provide protection for a number of stocks of conservation concern,” with the measures “intended to provide Southern Resident Killer Whales with improved access to Pacific salmon.”

Wiley says that any further cutbacks could be the end of a booming charter industry in Port Renfrew.

“We’re going to see a huge hit on, not just myself, but all the other guides and in the community, businesses in the community,” says Wiley.

Wiley and fellow fisherman have even launched a GoFundMe account to help raise money for potential legal action against the DFO.

The one salmon limit will last until July 31.


Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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