British Columbia

Summer fishing closures proposed for Vancouver Island streams

The province is proposing summer fishing closures for most streams on southern Vancouver Island in response to droughts in recent years that produced stressful conditions for fish.

Sustained angling closures are a response to drought conditions in recent summers

A team from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations measures the water flow in a stream near Lake Cowichan. The volume of water is currently about six times what it typically is during the summer. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

The province is proposing summer fishing closures for most streams on southern Vancouver Island in response to droughts in recent years that produced stressful conditions for fish.

Fishing can put an added burden on fish stocks when stream flows are low and the water temperature is warmer than usual, said Brendan Anderson, a senior fisheries biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

"That's a period of stressful conditions for fish that are in streams at those times," Anderson said.

The proposed regulation changes include a sustained fishing closure from July 15 to Aug. 31 for most streams on the south island.

The Koksilah and Chemainus rivers, which have seen some of the lowest water flows during the summer months, would be closed to fishing from July 1 to Sept. 30.

Vancouver Island rivers that have measures in place to manage water flow, such as the Puntledge​, would continue to operate under existing fishing regulations.

Proactive approach

In the past, the province has put fishing closures in place during a season if water runs low and the temperature rises.

But given the extreme dry conditions, especially this past summer and in 2015, Anderson says it makes sense to put the blanket closures in place, rather than scramble to try to notify anglers during the season.

"To do all of that in real time and try and change regulations and communicate that to the public is difficult," he said.

Brendan Anderson is a senior fisheries biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Anderson doesn't expect much pushback from Vancouver Island anglers, given the health of fish stocks is at stake, and the summer months when water is low are not peak season for fishing activities.

David Gunn, who runs fishing tours on the Cowichan River through his River Quest Charters business, says he agrees with the new measures.

"Once the water temperatures reach those levels, it's not good practice to fish," he said. "It's really hard on the fish."

Many anglers are more concerned with potential sport-fishing restrictions in ocean waters, Gunn said.

An expansion of fin-fishing bans in waters along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island are under consideration as Fisheries and Oceans Canada works to boost fish stocks and support the dwindling southern resident killer whale population.

The province is accepting public comment on changes to fishing regulations on Vancouver Island streams until January 11. 

If approved, the changes will go into effect in April.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.