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Old 03-26-2012, 03:10 PM
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Tofinofish Tofinofish is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Tofino B.C.
Posts: 487
Default DFO Fisheries SFAC Meeting

Last Night (March 25th) we held our local SFAC meeting (Sport Fish Advisory Committee) with reprentatives from DFO, including Enforcement and our South Coast Recreational Fisheries Co-ordinator.
This process happens up and down the BC coast every Spring and Fall, and is the grass roots community level for angler involvement in the Fisheries planning and management.
We covered a variety of topics, but details on the Halibut regulations for 2012, and Salmon Fisheries are often highlights on the agenda for our area and most others.

-Our DFO reps provided details of how they rationalized the 2012 regulations for Halibut that will be in effect starting April 1st. I knew most of this backgrounder in advance, but was still interesting to hear DFO explain the Halibut situation, change of allocation and reactions from numerous user groups. IMO, the options on the table we limited, and the current situation could be far worse than it is for the coming season. If any of you want specific details on my rationale, I will try and provide my reasoning by the way of PM or e-mail.
-We discussed numerous grassroots fundraising initiatives that have been true success stories along the BC coast, most of which help Salmon Enhancement and Habitat by leveraging funds and co-operative efforts of groups large and small. Everything from Derby's to individual donations compound positive $$ for Salmon. Some people are still of the mind-set that it is the responsibility of the Federal Gov't to foot the bill for all of these types of programs. We will be waiting a long time for that to happen as budgets are slashed and manpower is reduced, so stakeholder involvement is crutial to say the least.
-Bait Stocks were discussed, with Herring numbers on the increase along the South Coast of BC. Local feedback included seeing more juvenile and medium Herring in Salmon bellies last season, compared to many years past. The Sardine fishery will be more closely monitored this season due to encounters of Chinook by-catch, but overall Sardine numbers are huge. Needlefish stocks aren't monitored, but are reported locally to be very abundant, due in part to increases in Kelp Forest habitat and Ocean conditions.
-Salmon was a huge part of the Agenda as always. We discussed a brief recap of the 2011 season, and our DFO manager shared catch numbers for the Tofino and Ucluelet area that showed nearly double the average for catch in comparison to past seasons. We discussed the many challenges that the Victoria area is dealing with, including Chinook protection of the early Summer Fraser stocks that have squeezed their fishing opportunities more and more for the past 3 years.
The Salmon outlook was discussed for the South Coast, and was very positive overall. As an example, discussion evolved around the strong potential that the 4 year old component of RCH Chinook for the 2011 return may have "held over" due to strong ocean conditions, and could supplement the 2012 fishery returning a big 5 year olds. Fisheries are not being planned based on this concept, and will be a true bonus to return numbers and genetic strength if this does occur.
Record setting numbers of US bound Chinook and to a slightly lesser degree, Coho Salmon will once again provide a mixed stock transient fishery that should create some of BC's most dynamic Salmon catch numbers for 2012. This was especially good news for Tofino and Ucluelet area anglers as these Southern migrating stocks make up approx. 85% of our local Salmon catch, based on Creel Data and Coded Wire Tag information. Yes it is important to return your Hatchery Salmon heads.
When asked if there was anything we should be aware of regarding changes, we were then advised that our local Coho Fishing opportunities will very likley be enhanced by removing a boundary zone that has been in effect for the last 10 years. This renewed access will double the inshore Coho Salmon retention areas for Tofino anglers, with numerous spots being absolutley prime for our Salt-water Flyfishing and Light Tackle opportunities.
In summary, our DFO manager said that he was very excited to fish our area in 2012 as his Data shows it will provide him the best opportunities for success. He felt the BC coast would experience an overall strong Salmon fishery likely due to very suitable ocean survival temperatures and conditions, which will benefit the whole coast for another great year in 2012
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