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$863 Potential Rockfish Fine

Did you know it is a $863 fine if you are fishing without a descending device on-board that is set up ready to release rockfish bycatch?

Even if you are not targeting rockfish, you must be prepared. On page 2 of your Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence, it clearly states, “Rockfish: Anglers in vessels shall immediately return all rockfish that are not being retained to the water and to a similar depth from which they were caught by use of an inverted weighted barbless hook or other purpose-built descender device.”

In my recent conversation with the Shaun Tadei, a senior DFO officer in Nanaimo, he made it clear that’s not enough to just have a descending device on-board. It should be ready to go. The best setup is the SeaQualizer attached to your downrigger at, or near, your cannonball weight at all times.

Descending a Rockfish

SeaQualizer was awarded Gear for the Year by Island Fisherman magazine in 2019. “While expensive, it’s a no-fail device. Certainly, we want to recognize this for gear for the year, and to be safe, we recommend you buy two. This way, if you clip the descender on the downrigger at your cannonball you can set your line, too. No need to retrieve if your other line picks up another rockfish—use your spare.”

This modified SeaQualizer with an additional snap swivel provides extra confidence when attaching a $100 descender to a downrigger cannonball.

Additional descender resources can be found here.

About Rockfish

According to Owen Bird, Executive Director of the SFI, “There are 109 species of rockfish in the Pacific region, and British Columbia is home to many. With some species living up to 115 years, rockfish are slow-growing, late-maturing, and territorial, making them especially sensitive to fishing pressure and bycatch.”

Fresh legal sport-caught vermillion (photo: Joel Unickow)

What Is Barotrauma

With species that are slow to grow and reproduce, let’s do everything we can to ensure fish for the future. Always have a descending device on board ready to go! Rockfish experiencing barotrama have an extremely low chance of survival, so descending devices greatly improve the chances of their survival.

“What is barotrauma” – Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Rockfish Conservation Areas

The DFO notes that, “Monitoring and research programs in BC indicate that inshore rockfish, especially within the inland waters of Vancouver Island, are at low levels of abundance. We need your help to protect and conserve these species. RCAs generally protect more shallow (<50 m) areas preferred by Black, Copper, and China Rockfishes and not deeper areas (>100 m) utilized by other species like Quillback and Yelloweye Rockfish.” Current DFO research can be found here.

Juvenile Yelloweye Rockfish

Rockfish Identification Card

Having a laminated ID card on-board is a great way to familiarize you and your guests with common rockfish you are likely to encounter. It’s a great way to ensure quickly, at-a-glance, what you have caught.

Words by Andrew Luch, Andrew’s West Coast Adventures Nanaimo BC | 250-619-4999



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