Banner Photo: Spot prawn (Pandalus platyceros). (Credit:Maxwell Hohn)
Pressure on fish stocks continues to increase from the rising popularity of sport fishing. There is a lack of monitoring to support stock management and enforcement of regulations.
Sport fishing is a huge economic generator for Howe Sound, with interest peaking in the wake of recent record salmon runs. But the growing interest in angling is adding to the pressure on vulnerable fish stocks and underscoring the need for more effective management, monitoring, training and education of visitors to Howe Sound.
Sport Fishing: more
anglers increase pressure
on fish stocks
Authors: Stephanie Lingard, Project Biologist, Instream Fisheries Research Aroha Miller, Manager, Ocean Watch, Ocean Wise Research Institute
Reviewer: Dave Brown, Vice-Chair of the Squamish Lillooet Sportfish Advisory Committee
Excerpt from 2020 article
Visitor numbers to Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound have continued to grow since 2017. Consequently, more anglers have increased pressure on local sport fishing areas and fish species. Anglers and conservationists have repeatedly asked for additional enforcement efforts in the Squamish River and Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound; however, both federal and provincial agencies have been slow to respond.
Read the full article to see what else is happening.
Background: Happy young angler. (Credit: Dave Brown)
What’s been done since 2017?
The table below reports on progress made on recommended actions from the previous 2017 article, where identified. Many of these require ongoing action.
|2017 Action||Action Taken|
|Individual and Organization Actions|
|Ensure you are familiar with the current regulations before you fish.||Three educational signs were installed in the Squamish River watershed in summer 2017. Signs display species information including identification, where to look for fishing regulations and locations of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw/Squamish Nation lands. These signs were placed at high traffic areas of the Squamish River (i.e., the Squamish Spit, Fisherman’s Park and at the confluence of the Mamquam and Squamish rivers).
|Government Action and Policy|
|Support grasroots stewardship programs.||
Some groups are supported by government funding. For example, the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery (run by Fisheries and Oceans Canada [DFO]) provides fish to the Bowen Island Terminal Creek Hatchery, run by the Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Club (BIFWC), a citizen science group.
|Undertake baseline data studies to better determine fish populations, behaviours and returns so that conservation projects can be implemented, and retention, commercial harvests and industrial projects allowed only when supported by sufficient data.||The long-term monitoring programs in the Cheakamus River that were a part of a Water Use Plan for BC Hydro, ended in 2019. The monitoring provided the only consistent indicator of salmon populationdynamics in the Squamish River watershed. This is a contrary move to the recommended action.|
What can you do?
A detailed overview of recommended actions relating to climate change is included in The path to zero carbon municipalities. In some cases, no progress was identified on previous recommended actions; these remain listed below. Additional actions marked as NEW also follow.
Individual and Organization Actions:
- Take fishing lessons to learn proper fish handling techniques.
- Take your garbage and used fishing line with you when you leave your fishing spot.
- Avoid unwanted and illegal rockfish by fishing away from rocky reef areas, key habitat for these fish.
- Sport fishing organisations and guides/outfitters can collect data on participants and catch and share the data to aid in quantifying the value of the activity to Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound.
- Participate in shoreline cleanups.
Government Action and Policy:
- Require angler education through the licensing process.
- Make angler awareness programs available in multiple languages.
- Allocate more resources toward monitoring and enforcement of recreational fishing regulations. Ensure saltwater “guides” are licensed.
- Increase levels of protection for forage fish species such as herring, eulachon and anchovy as they are main food sources for Pacific salmon and some marine mammals in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound.
- Require saltwater guides to be licensed and test their knowledge regularly.
- Unlink the allocation of DFO Conservation Officer enforcement funds with volume of reported infractions and increase enforcement capacity especially in heavily fished areas.
- NEW Implementation of ongoing long-term fish monitoring projects in this area.
- NEW Support surveys of angler activity and catch statistics.
- NEW Establish citizen enforcement officers throughout the Sound, who are granted limited enforcement powers, such as checking catch size, species, and fishing method, and handing out fines for fisheries infringements.