Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association

August 07, 2009 10:01 ET

DFO Should not close Fraser River to Sport Fishing

Closing the Fraser to Sport fishing will not impact low Sockeye returns but will hurt the local economy

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, News Editor, Travel/Tourism Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor CHILLIWACK, BC, PRESS RELEASE --(Marketwire - Aug. 7, 2009) - The current disappointing returns for Sockeye Salmon on the Fraser are a serious concern for all BC Anglers. Vic Carrao, President of the Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association (FVAGA) states "These poor results are more than a concern. In a year where the Guiding Industry has been hard hit by a Global recession the very livelihood of our members is on the line." Nonetheless Carrao says the FVAGA is committed to ensuring a sustainable fishery in the Fraser Valley and completely understands and supports the need to close the Sockeye fishery until return numbers improve. However the recent calls to take all Sport Fishers off the Fraser River and close all fisheries is a clear overreaction.

Recreational Fishers catch only a small percentage of the Sockeye when the fishery is open. According to statistics reported by the Pacific Salmon Commission in 2004, Recreational fishers caught 1.4% of the Sockeye run compared to 21.8% for First Nations and 25.7% for Commercial Fishers. While the Sport Fishers impact on fish resources is minimal their impact on the BC economy is significant. Approximately 400,000 licensed anglers spend $400 million on freshwater fishing in B.C. each year employing approximately 3500 people according to a 2007 BC Government Study.

The FVAGA position is that the DFO needs to ignore panicked calls based on speculation and suspicion and focus on facts and science based conservation. They believe closing the Fraser will not solve the problem. An opinion shared by Dr. Carl Walters of UBC who in a presentation at this years "State of the Salmon" Conference stated "Declines have not been reversed by closing the fisheries (overfishing was not the problem)." In addition since the Sockeye fishery is closed any Sockeye inadvertently caught will be released and carry on to spawn; a recent study indicated that released salmon suffer a mortality of less than 2%. The FVAGA believe that shutting down the river to all fishing is not only unnecessary from a conservation perspective it will decimate a local tourist economy at a time that it is barely holding its head above water.
/For further information: Vic Carrao
President, Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association

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