Fish ban plan on ice for now

Bulkley, Morice closures were on the table

Federal fisheries officials are holding off, at least for now, any suggestion of implementing two fishing bans along sections of local rivers.

Concerns locally were heightened in the spring when a local fisheries advisory committee through two motions suggested bans on sections of the Morice and Bulkley rivers would safeguard salmon stocks.

The Upper Skeena Sport Fishery Advisory Committee underpinned its motions by describing salmon stocks as declining.

The possibility of closures had local residents concerned not only for local anglers but for the potential impact on tourist anglers drawn to the area for its fishing.

Those motions were subsequently amended by the regional North Coast Sport Fishery Advisory Committee to ask federal officials “using sound science, evaluate the salmon stocks that use the Little Bulkley [and Morice], the habitat and climate they require to be successful, to determine whether this is in fact a conservation concern.”

And now, in an email sent to advisory committee members and others, a Prince Rupert-based federal fisheries official has said that “after careful consideration of the current management measures in those two systems to protect chinook …. the department is not yet prepared to implement these closures for the 2019/20 season.

Those two systems were described as the Bulkley River upstream of its Morice confluence and the Morice River upstream of Gosnell.

“This is not to suggest that these proposals are not supported, just that they will require further exploration,” wrote Darren Chow, the acting North Coast Recreational Fisheries Coordinator.

“We look forward to working with you in the post-season to further discuss these proposed closures.”

The federal government is responsible for salmon stocks, taking advice and recommendations for the sports fishery through a three-tier committee advisory system which begins with local committees, advancing to a regional one and then to a province-wide committee.

One of the key goals off the committees is the conservation of naturally-reproducing fish and their habitat.

Fisheries regulations published by the provincial government for 2019-2021 affirm previous bans that there be no fishing upstream of the Morice and Bulkley confluence and that there be no angling from boats from the Morice River to the CN bridge at Barrett from Aug. 15-Dec. 31 each year.

A bait ban on all parts of the Morice River continues and there is to be no angling from boats from Aug. 15-Dec. 31 each year on all parts of the river.

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