(Vancouver, BC/Coast Salish Territory) Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) stated “In order to provide a fighting chance for returning sockeye, it is imperative that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans shut down the Chinook sports fishery on the Fraser River. Every effort, including the complete shut-down of the sports fishery, should be made to limit the possibility of incidental by-catch or the practice of snagging or ‘flossing’ of sockeye. It’s still a grim, grim picture for the Fraser sockeye.”
Presently, anglers of the sports fishery are able to catch and keep four (4) Chinook salmon per day for the period of July 16, 2009 to August 31, 2009.
“With hundreds of anglers plying the Lower Fraser, seven days a week, DFO is hard-pressed to closely monitor and verify their catch,” said Grand Chief Phillip. “Every sockeye salmon that survives the myriad of challenges represents our ability to sustain our precious cultural legacy for our grandchildren.”
The Pacific Salmon Commission has revised and lowered their projections for sockeye salmon returns of the Fraser River. The Commission had originally forecasted a return of 10.6 million sockeye but is now reporting that many of the runs are far less than anticipated. Biologists are warning that the temperature of the Fraser River is rising which greatly increases the mortality rates of salmon.
Grand Chief Phillip concluded “With the river warming rapidly coupled with the much lowered projections, the conservation of sockeye should be of paramount concern to all involved. DFO must act immediately. Any delay shall only serve to endanger and jeopardize the fishing stocks of the future.”