Sport fishing ban to help save resident Orcas proposed for Juan de Fuca Strait


WATCH: A proposal by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to help halt and reverse the decline of endangered, salmon-eating killer whales has local fishermen worried about the future of their businesses. Luisa Alvarez reports. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is proposing either an all-fin ban or a salmon ban for sports fishing along the Juan de Fuca Strait from Sheringham Point to East Point, on a trial basis from May to September.

According to the DFO, the initiative would help maintain Chinook salmon populations in essential feeding areas for southern resident killer whales who rely on Chinook salmon to survive.

But not everyone agrees the initiative will work.

CRD Regional Director for Juan de Fuca Mike Hicks says a lot more would have to be done to actually make a difference.

” There has to be a huge restoration program there as to be habitat protection and by shutting this area it’s going to be devastating to the local fishermen and the local guides and I think its absolutely pointless, a political exercise by the department of fisheries which would accomplish nothing,” said Hicks.

Ryan Chamberland is a local Sooke fisherman who owns Vancouver Island Lodge. He heavily relies on those areas for his business and is worried about what could happen, especially if the DFO decides on an all fin ban.

” Halibut fishing is a huge part of my business but halibut fishing doesn’t affect killer whales,” said Chamberland.

Chamberland says the ban would barely make a dent in the bigger problem as recreational salmon fishing only amounts to about 2% of the killer whales diet.

They really just need to get educated on what the actual problems are said Chamberland, which is our seal and sea lion populations are at an all-time high they’re eating all of the smolts that are coming out of the rivers and we have fish farms. ”

He adds fisherman have always cared about helping the killer whales and have been doing their part for some time now and fundraising their own money to do it.

” Here in Sooke, we are doing a net-pen project we are going to be releasing 500,000 chinook smolts that going to be direct food for these killer whales we are actually on the ground doing something. We all want to work on the issues of the southern resident killer whales and help them get better to let them grow let them eat more chinook salmon but there are other ways to do it,” said Chamberland.

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

They’ve also suggested moving the boundary in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from French Beach to Sombrio Beach.

” By taking a couple kilometres here or there we can preserve those recreational fishery values while still playing a major role for southern resident killer whales,” said Director of Business development for the sports fishing institute of B.C. Martin Paish.

The DFO is still taking feedback on the proposals before anything moves forward to do so e-mail Ashley Dobko at [email protected].

The Sport Fishing Advisory Board will host a special meeting on the DFO proposals at the Prestige Hotel March 6th at 7:30 p.m.


Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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