Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has loosened its restrictions on catching chinook in North Coast tidal waters, allowing for a recreational catch limit of two per day in Areas 3 to 6.
A complete ban on chinook retention remains in place for recreational fishers in the Skeena and Nass rivers.
The notice on Wednesday, Aug. 1, updates the department’s June 1 action of a precautionary 25 to 35-per-cent reduction in recreational chinook marine fisheries by limiting catches to one per day in most North Coast areas.
There are no signs of DFO lifting its ban on recreational chinook in the Skeena River. Multiple attempts to contact DFO have been unsuccessful.
The update comes as return rates of sockeye at the Tyee Test Fishery have exceeded forecasts and DFO is allowing for some limited fisheries. Sockeye numbers have exceeded the 800,000 threshold and reached over one million as of Aug. 1.
DFO said last week they they have delayed a Skeena River recreational fishery for sockeye, pink and coho over concerns for chinook, but are now considering an opening for Aug. 7.
“The reason why we were delaying … is there have been lots of concerns for the chinook in the river and the places where the chinook are holding are often the same places where the recreational sockeye fishing would take place,” Colin Masson, North Coast area director for DFO said earlier.
“This gives a little more time for the chinook to move through into the sporting areas and enables a coordinated opening for recreational harvesting.”
While the Skeena recreational sockeye fishery remains closed for now, a commercial seine fishery is open from Aug. 1 to 5 in sections of Area 4 around Prince Rupert. DFO has also increased the number of open subareas for the gillnet commercial fishery running Aug. 2 until 10 p.m.
On July 26 seiners from as far as Vancouver travelled to Prince Rupert in hopes of an opening.
-With files from Keili Bartlett