Fishery officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada handed out tickets and seized salmon fishing gear Wednesday during the Fraser River bar-fishing demonstration near Chilliwack.
A total of six tickets were issued and four fishing rods were seized, according to DFO spokesperson Leri Davies.
“The tickets were for fishing for salmon/trout during a closed time with a fine of $250.00 per ticket,” Davies said in an email.
Six officers from DFO’s Fraser Valley East Conservation and Protection detachment were dispatched to the scene in two vessels. They checked approximately 50 protesters at the demonstration fishery that started at first light on Sept. 9.
Those who showed up were specifically warned before heading out to the gravel bars that they could be subject to enforcement action if caught fishing for salmon, or with salmon-fishing gear, during a closed time.
They were also told that the demonstration was neither sanctioned, nor approved by DFO.
“When (some) fishers became aware of the enforcement action, they changed their techniques to fishing for sturgeon or pulled their lines out all together,” Davies added.
Organizers of the event had formally requested authorization for a recreational opening for 300 pieces in a selected test fishery for the late-run chinook, but were turned down due to conservation concerns for dwindling sockeye, and the requirement to provide an FSC (food, social, ceremonial) chinook opening for First Nations.
The goal of the fishing protest had been to showcase the selective nature of bar fishing using short leader lengths to avoid catching any salmon, especially the critically low sockeye stocks.
Officials with the Fraser Valley Sportfishing Alliance and Fraser Valley Salmon Society announced in the wake of their event that they would be covering the costs of any fines or tickets issued that were directly related to the demonstration.
“We look forward to standing beside these people who were charged in defence of all of us,” according to a post on the Salmon Society Facebook page. “The Fraser Valley Salmon Society and Fraser River Sport Fishing Alliance will be happy to cover the ticket costs if they are charged.”
Organizers said they also appreciated the good turnout, which yielded no salmon being caught. Instead they stated that 10 pikeminnow and a small sturgeon were caught and released by bar-fishers during their demo.
“We’re proud of everyone who stood united together in solidarity for our future angling opportunities on the Fraser River. Thank you to everyone who was able to participate today and also thank you to those who supported us and could not make it.”
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