Fisheries and Oceans Canada says conservation and protection officers are concerned about what they claim is “rampant illegal fishing” of rockfish populations in Metro Vancouver.
The DFO said Rockfish Protection Areas are closed to fishing for all finfish – not just rockfish – in order to protect at-risk rockfish stocks inside those areas, which includes salmon. The tidal waters in Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm, however, are currently open to fishing for Pink salmon, “which is abundant at this time.”
It’s because of that increase of pink salmon that conservation and protection officers are seeing a “concerning increase of illegal recreational fishing activity” in the conservation areas in the Indian Arm waters. The DFO said illegal fishing of rockfish seriously compromises the long-term sustainability of at-risk rockfish populations.
In an emailed release Thursday (Aug. 31), the DFO said that in the last week Lower Mainland fishery officers have witnessed “significant illegal fishing activity” within Rockfish Protection Areas along the Indian Arm area.
Conservation and protection officers have issued tickets with significant fines to a number of fishers and seized their catch.
Rockfish live long and are slow to grow and reproduce. The don’t stray far from home habitats, “making them particularly sensitive to fishing pressure.” There are 38 species of rockfish along B.C.’s coast, with some living for more than 100 years.
There at 162 Rockfish Conservation Areas in B.C., covering 4,800 kilometres of coastal waters. The DFO says its one of the largest marine networks of conservation-based fisheries closures in the province.