STEELHEAD SOCIETY OF B.C. ROUNDTABLE REPORT
By Eric Carlisle
Of the many issues the Steelhead Society is working on, one of the most important is the proposed IPP on Vancouver Island’s Kokish River.If this run-of-river project proceeds, the Kokish would be diverted into a 9 kilometre pipeline which would return the water to the river just upstream from where the Kokish enters the sea at Telegraph Cove.This 9 kilometre stretch of the Kokish is home to both adult and juvenile summer steelhead and to salmon.While some IPPs are not harmful to anadromous fish, this one will be if it is allowed to proceed.The SSBC is working with WCWC on this issue.The SSBC would like to see this project cancelled and a ban on IPPs on river reaches containing anadromous fish.
Another important issue is DFO management of commercial fisheries targeting pinks on B.C.‘s north coast.During the course of these commercial fisheries, 1.37 million pounds of chum salmon have been discarded.Many of these chum are from depleted stocks and many of the discarded fish will not survive to spawn.For example, in one remote fishing area 150 kilometres south of Prince Rupert, over 310 metric tonnes of chum were discarded to retain 870 tonnes of pinks.No independent observers were present in this fishery to help ensure compliance with fishing regulations including safe release of chum.There is a need for selective fisheries and techniques which ensure high survival of discarded fish from depleted stocks.What is also needed is leadership from Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield on this issue.
Many of my past roundtable reports have sounded like fishing reports, but what they really are reports on how well salmon and steelhead runs are faring.The theory is if fishing is good, there are good returns, and if fishing is poor, runs are depleted.Much of the time this systems works, but not always.A case in point is this year’s return of pink salmon to Indian River.Most odd numbered years, Indian River pinks hold near various beaches along the West and North Vancouver shorelines, and anglers cast from shore for these fish.These beaches include Cates Park, Seymour estuary, Sewer Bay-Lions Gate Bridge, Capilano estuary, Ambleside and Stearman Beach-Cypress Creek mouth area.However, in 2011 virtually no pinks have been caught at any of these areas.I have not visited all of these beaches, but the reports I have heard from anglers who visited the beaches I have not been to indicated no pinks were present.Most of my fishing time has been spent at Ambleside, where I caught the first pink on July 25, another angler caught one on July 26 and still another anger lost one on July 27.And that’s it--there have been no other confirmed reports of pinks taken by shore anglers.Cates Park has been a good staging area for Indian River pinks, but this year I tried there three times (for an hour at least each time) and saw no sign of pinks or anything else.Yet, while talking to Dave and Gillian Steele at Highwater Tackle on August 20, I learned that anglers in boats had caught pinks and there were plenty of pinks in upper Indian Arm and in Indian River itself.Perhaps the good snow pack and delayed runoff made the pinks return swiftly to the Indian rather than hold near the various beaches along the way.Shore anglers, of course, need fish to come within about 130 feet from shore and to swim near the surface.But if the Indian River pinks were swimming by well offshore anywhere from 20 to 60 feet down, shore anglers would never know the pinks were present, let alone catch any.