Fishery protest at Island 22 in Chilliwack turned into educational opportunity
It was supposed to be a protest fishery Monday at the Island 22 Regional Park boat launch by members of the Fraser River SportFishing Alliance.
But when DFO decided at the last minute on Friday to open the recreational chinook fishery for Aug. 1, it changed the entire focus of the day, said Rod Clapton, SportFishing Alliance spokesperson, and president of the BC Federation of Drift Fishers.
The need for a protest was actually averted.
"We felt there was an opportunity to demonstrate that we are more than just a protest organization," said Clapton.
"We used it as an education and information session to talk to anglers. So we turned a potential negative, into what we now perceive as a positive."
They raised the profile of the FRSA with the public, but also took time to suggest that people should be "fishing selectively for chinook."
That means since the sockeye fishery is closed, no one should be bottom bouncing, in order not to hook one by accident.
The recreational fishery opening Monday was for chinook, sometimes called spring salmon, and anglers can retain one mature spring salmon, and three jacks.
At one time, it was a May opening for chinook, Clapton said, but now it tends to be late summer. They are hoping the fishery will remain open into September.
River conditions are good right now, with river temperatures going down.
"I would suggest that the inquiries and lobbying (of DFO) that started about two weeks ago likely contributed to the recreational opening," said Clapton.
"We will continue our mandate with the FRSA, which is to work in cooperation with DFO and other sectors towards enhancing the fishery, and doing what we can to ensure there is salmon for all."