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DFO Announces Chinook Fishery Shutdown

As of today, an announcement was made for non-retention of Chinook quietly via press release at 2:00PM.

While it’s unclear how this decision will affect the BC economy overall, there has been tremendous concern about how it would affect local economies and businesses that depend on tourism—namely “recreational” sports fishing. In addition to closures, the annual retention of Chinook has been reduced from 30 to 10.

Click here for links to our full coverage, if you are not familiar with the series of events.

At this point in time, the industry is in shock. More to follow.

Fisheries management measures for the 2019 fishing season will include:

  • Commercial fishing: Commercial troll fisheries for Chinook will be closed until August 20 to avoid impacting Fraser Chinook stocks and to support conservation priorities.
  • Recreational fishing: The 2019 management measures for recreational fisheries where at risk Chinook stocks may be encountered are designed to maximize returns of these at risk Chinook to their spawning grounds. Opportunities to harvest Chinook will be provided later in the season to support the long-term viability of the recreational industry. The 2019 measures include:
    • Non-retention of Chinook in Southern BC (including West Coast Vancouver Island offshore, Johnstone Strait and Northern Strait of Georgia) until July 14; a daily limit of one (1) Chinook per person per day after July 15 until December 31.
    • Non-retention of Chinook in the Strait Juan de Fuca and Southern Strait of Georgia until July 31; retention of one (1) Chinook per person per day as of August 1until December 31.
    • West Coast Vancouver Island offshore areas will have non-retention of Chinook until July 14 followed by a limit of two (2) Chinook per day from July 15 to December 31. West Coast Vancouver Island inshore waters will remain at two (2) Chinook per day for the season once at-risk Chinook stocks have passed through, to support the long term viability of the salmon and of the recreational fishery.
    • Fraser River recreational fisheries will remain closed to salmon fishing until at least August 23, and opportunities will be informed by any other conservation issues (coho, steelhead, etc).
    • Retention of two (2) Chinook per day continues to be permitted in Northern BC and inshore areas of the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Other opportunities may be identified and announced in season where abundance permits.
    • An overall reduction in the total annual limit for Chinook that can be retained per person in a season from 30 fish to 10. Recreational fisheries for other species will continue. Please see the Department’s web-site for local regulations.
  • First Nations food, social and ceremonial fisheries: these fisheries, which have a constitutionally protected priority, will not commence until July 15 – concurrent with the opening of the recreational retention fishery.

The announcement letters can be downloaded from our site here:

Government of Canada takes action to address Fraser River Chinook decline

Action to protect Fraser River Chinook salmon

Maps of recreational Chinook management measures

Map of management actions for West Coast Vancouver Island Offshore, Johnstone Strait, Strait of Georgia and Juan de Fuca

WCVI offshore in Areas 121 to 127 and 20-1 to 20-2

  • Apr. 1 to Jul. 14, Chinook non-retention;
  • July 15 to Dec. 31, 2 Chinook per day

Johnstone Strait (Area 12) and Strait of Georgia – North (Areas 13 to 17, 28, portions of 29 (29-1 and 29-2)

  • Apr. 1 to Jul. 14, Chinook non-retention
  • July 15 to Aug. 29, 1 Chinook per day
  • Aug. 30 to Dec. 31, 2 Chinook per day

Strait of Georgia – South and Juan de Fuca Areas 18, subareas 19-3 to 19-12, subareas 29-3 to 29-5 and Subareas 20-3 to 20-7

  • Apr. 1 to Jul. 31, Chinook non-retention
  • Aug. 1 to Aug. 29, 1 Chinook per day (with option for terminal fisheries)
  • Aug. 30 to Dec. 31, 2 Chinook per day

Map of management actions for Fraser River: Region 2, tidal and non-tidal areas

Map of management actions for Fraser River: Region 2, tidal and non-tidal areas

Fraser River non-tidal and Region 2, Fraser River tidal areas 29-11 to 29-17 and portions of marine area off the mouth off the Fraser 29-6, 29-7, 29-9, 29-10

  • Jan. 1 to Aug. 23, No fishing for salmon
  • Aug. 23 to Dec. 31, Chinook non-retention
  • Note that concerns on other stocks in-season may apply i.e. Interior Coho


  1. What changes are being made to whale watching rules and regulations in addition. Where has the government been for past 20 years . This is going to be a huge impact to little towns all the way along the west coast. We will have be going to where the fish are available for retention. But because we have to go up farther up the island it won’t be as often going away and spending money in those little towns

  2. Can’t understand how the DFO can be so stupid as to close chinook but let the last good stocks of herring get raped in the same year. This is the same department that managed the east coast cod fishery into extinction. Bone heads.

  3. i think it’s the worst “calendaring” by the DFO for Area 18 where I live. The peak fall run of Chinook to the Fraser is usually mid to late August in the waters around the Southern Gulf Islands. Yet, that’s when we can fish ’em and guys will fish it harder because they couldn’t fish in June/July. They should have reduced catch limits to 1 prior to Aug 1st, shut down August completely, and then re-opened in September to regular limits.

  4. So I must presume that all other activities that may affect vulnerable Fraser Chinook stocks, for example the proposed pipeline construction to Burnaby, are also being shut down for good, since it may impact the recovery of “vulnerable” Fraser Chinook stocks. How can they be “protected” in the salt, only to run into pipeline construction near their spawning and rearing areas?

  5. science strongly supports that pinnipeds consume 6 times the amount of chinook that the commercial and sport fleets combined catch.
    hopefully the meetings set up for this fall to discuss the science on pinnipeds will wake DFO up and take action in bringing the pinnipeds “back into balance” as we are looking for in our IFMP presentation to DFO to harvest pinnipeds.
    stay tuned!

  6. So once again the local resident public fishery takes all the hit due to the irresponsible actions of so many other groups. As a resident angler, I acknowledge that I have had an impact on the Chinook salmon populations. Now that I have declared that I am one of those evil recreational fishermen, I want to look at who else has an impact…..
    Everyone wants to save the killer whales, but no one wants to pay more to stop the raw sewage spewing out from Victoria,
    Everyone wants to save the killer whales but no one wants to stop the freighters that bring in all the plastic junk from China that we all consume with such vigor,
    Everyone wants to save the Killer whales, but we cannot possibly stop the whale watching boats that hound and harass the whales for 12 hours or more every day of the year,
    Everyone wants to save the whales but no one wants to slow the ferries that we all take to get back to the mainland.
    Everyone wants to save the Killer whales, but no one wants to curb the pollution being dumped into the Fraser from as far away as Prince George.
    Everyone wants to save the Killer whales, but no one wants to stop the water theft happening throughout the Fraser and Thompson river watersheds for raising cattle and agriculture.
    Everyone wants to save the Killer whales, but no one wants to acknowledge the illegal gill netting and commercial harvest of Fraser river Chinook in the name of FSC.
    Everyone wants to save the Killer whales, but no one wants to expand the Fraser river hatchery program.
    It seems like everyone wants to save the killer whales, but one wants it to affect them or have to pay anything for it so the easiest solution is to once again beat up on the local anglers. How about we look at a Killer whale tax to everyone person who wants to save the killer whales and we collectively raise millions and millions to expand Fraser chinook hatchery numbers, clean up our sewage, slow down our consumption of Chinese junk, stop the whale watching boats, stop the theft of water outside of approved licenses and volumes, remove the gill nets and stop the commercial sale of Fraser caught chinook, How about we ALL pitch in rather than just targeting one group and washing our hands of our collective responsibility.

  7. Wondering why the commercial closure ahead only mentions trollers?
    Should it be assumed that the commercial seine/gill net fleet is also included?
    Blame the DFO mandarins in Ottawa, they are the ones that advise and sway successive governments over the years!

  8. What about the SEINERS that target chinook runs before resching our local waters? They are never mentioned wnen conservation is discussed. Until we treat “insiders ,lobiests, campain contributors, eaqually with otheruser groups it is hard to support the science.

  9. Right on, great comments.I really like the “Herring” comment…so true. Remember, commercial fishing is sacred…doesn’t matter if that’s a big part of the problem or NOT. Blame Joe Public…it works for the feds. If you look at halibut, we know all the commercial licences are owned by one individual whom now has a monopoly on the industry and therefore sets the prices…and additionally sells ” a portion of “his” quota to recreational fishermen” ( again screws Joe public ). Nice deal…. and not real conservative! In return of course all this individual has to do is build an outpatient surgery centre (the cost he gets to write off the cost against his income ) and this ensures he doesn’t get audited AND at the sametime allows him to make billions of dollars selling fish. Nice deal. Who let this happen? As a side issue, why are his commercial qoutas issued for “number of pieces” and NOT size?? Doesn’t that encourage targeting the big halibut we are trying to conserve and throwing the small ones back ( that are now dead from dragging them around for hours ) Where is the government anyway..are they braindead ? Or, …are they just looking out the window thinking we are too stupid to figure this out ! With reference to Salmon, it seems to me, ONCE the fish enter the riversystem, wherever it is, retention should STOP, if the numbers are so low. Why protect them in the ocean and kill them in the river just as they are ready to spawn? Dumb. And, if the DFO really cared about “stocks” why aren’t we policing the foreigners raping and pillaging the resource ONLY a few miles offshore! I see it every summer. If we did this ONLY , there would be lots of fish for the commercial and recreational fishermen. After all if you talk to the Newfies they’ll tell you..foreign offshore fishing is what killed the cod fishery, not fishing for CODFISH out of a Dory! What a joke… and a sad one at that.

  10. Amen to all the great comments
    The recreational fisher is once again the scape goat for the DFO’s inability to do get things right. Never mind following proven successful projects like cleaning up spawning grounds, expanding hatcheries, balancing the pinniped population, etc, the DFO / Liberal gov’t decides to take the easy way out and penalize the recreational folks.
    Steve C, great comments regarding everyone wanting to save the killer whales. I’d be remiss to add to the BC Ferries comment by not mentioning the addition of 2,700 round trip sailings that BC Ferries announced Feb 22, 2019. Surely that many more vessels in the water can’t be helping the killer whale population……side note, look at additional ferry sailings just planned for the Easter weekend
    Truely a sad day for all folks who enjoy the salmon fishery of BC

  11. As a Newfoundlander and former Federal government employee let me chime in here about what I read before I got my comment section ..First “ Newfie “is a derogatory term unless you are family or a friend , Secondly, DFO staff are not stupid or incompetent and thirdly the construction of pipelines in Canada is probably the best managed and supervised construction activities in the world. Newfoundlanders and other Canadians are as responsible for the commercial extinction of Atlantic Cod and many other species as any foreigners but as on the west coast it was regulated and managed by DFO. However, the DFO scientific staff told the politicians again and again that the fishing practices and harvest levels were not sustainable but there were fish plants to be fed and money people to be kept at bay. And you all know the rest of the story .. 30 years and it ai’t back yet and the reason ….politics.
    Secondly pipeline construction has as much impact on salmon stocks as meteorites…. every fish bearing water encountered along the route is either drilled and bored and in any areas deemed sensitive there are more federal and provincial inspectors on site than mosquitoes. If we ever built another pipeline in this country go take a look …sure they would be delighted to show off their construction practises
    Now to the matter at hand… and back to the Atlantic coast . The Atlantic Salmon, the only salmon species there cause we like to keep things simple, are commercially extinct and the recreational fisheries virtually non existent .As the Atlantic Salmon started to decline the commercial fishery was the first to go ..sound familiar, and than the recreational fishery killed by a thousands cuts ( sound familiar). Habitat destruction may have been a contributing factor and of course over fishing but the most significant was the poor sea survival .. time and time again sufficient smolts left Newfoundland rivers to provide plenty of brood stock snd surplus for a reasonable harvest, But time and time again, an anticipated survival of 10% was 3 or 4 % or even less, leaving only enough for brood-stock and little else. One would think that investigating this phenomenon would be a priority but to my knowledge to this day it has never been investigated ( sound familiar) Took a group of volunteer scientists to do it recently in the west coast .. guess we have other priorities overseas. So without the knowledge and the resources available to DFO to acquire the knowledge, we do what we have done .. we cut and we cut and til there no more commercial fishery and than no recreational fishery … why …politics. …other priorities wherever! And now here we are ..a multi million recreational industry in industry that had a full federal government department with multi million dollars budgets and hundreds( maybe thousands) of staff overseeing it’s regulation and management. The social economic impacts are going to be devastating
    for individuals, families and communities. With the resources available to them , you can bet they can tell you what those impacts are going to be .. but I don’t think they (whoever they are ) care! It just people not Killer whales.

  12. This is just the beginning of the natural resource disaster that is happening and will continue to happen until it all becomes unsustainable. Unless a drastic fundamental change in Gov policies around our natural resources takes place there will be nothing for our kids or grand-kids to enjoy. Until the greedy capitalists and corrupt politicians are gone it doesn’t present a good prognosis for anyone. Call it what you want, until we get off our lazy asses collectively this will only continue to spiral downhill. I believe it is paramount that all user groups get together in collaboration in order to strategize proactively a new approach in regards to a more responsible and sustainable future in fish management. What has become clear again is that some of the special interest groups have become exempt from the process which of course does nothing but create more animosity across the board. Is it possible for us to set aside our opinions to discuss what really matters?

  13. Not one mention of the virus laden sea lice producing, disease spreading, smolt killing fish farms that DFO protects at all costs. No lack of taxpayer money or resources in that department. Shutdown the commercial fisheries and recreational fisheries and sell more pharmed fish. win-win for DFO. Seems like their mandate to me…

  14. A healthy salmon population is so vital to the overall health of British Columbia. I find it so hard to believe that the government would target sports fishermen as a source of salmon decline.
    Our government allows comercial fishermen to block off the rivers when the salmon are returning to spawn. Our government allows other special groups, special rights to fish, and then sell their catch to the public, when our comercial fishermen are not allowed to fish.
    The majority of the pubic want to save the whale, save the seals, save the sea lions. Over the past 25 yrs, I’ve watched the explostion in growth of the seal, and sea lion population. The amount of salmon these two animals eat in just one day far exceeds what the recreational fishermen take in the fishing season. D.O.F. should listen to the affected parties and take some of their direction from them, instead of applieing rules set out by beauracrats that have never been on the ocean, or fished.
    Use common sense, and don’t be scared to stand up against the special interest groups..


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