Angler Numbers Up and Poaching Numbers About the Same



Bump in new anglers, but no increase in salmon poaching, DFO reports

CBC News Posted: Oct 05, 2018 7:27 PM NT

Federal fisheries officials say they saw no increase in poaching during this year's recreational salmon fishery, even though more people cast a line for the first time.

New regulations limiting each person to a single tag sparked fears earlier this year among anglers that fewer people would head to rivers, and that less activity would open the door for poachers.

But the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which completed roughly 4,100 inspections of anglers on rivers this season, said a lowered cost to $5 for a salmon licence made the activity more attractive to new anglers, and that illegal activity was in line with prior years.

"Our guardians were regularly patrolling the rivers at all times, even during catch-and-release because they had to take hundreds and hundreds of temperatures in order to monitor the rivers," said Daryl Walsh, DFO's senior compliance officer of programs.

"But we didn't see an actual increase in violations based on that."

DFO, which reported 136 fishing violations this season, had more than 200 fishery officers and guardians on the water this season.

Walsh said poachers can be sneaky, and noted that officials caught nine people netting rivers this year.

Four of those caught were inland, while five were in coastal waters.

"It's the most destructive, and the one we're the most concerned about," he said of netting, adding a poacher can catch up to 20 salmon in a net in inland waters.

"But we'll also run into violations like people not tagging their salmon, fishing in a closed area of the river where the fish are vulnerable, things like that as well."

Walsh said the department saw a good compliance level among anglers, and when rivers switched to catch-and-release he said people adhered to those regulations.

Lowered fees

Walsh says there was a drop in numbers after most anglers caught their single salmon for the season, but added catch-and-release anglers stayed active.

DFO noticed there were more families and children on rivers this season than in previous years, due to the lowered cost of licences.

"Not a substantial amount. Not like every river is full of children this year because that wasn't the case," he said.

"They did see an increase, but not too bad. People that would have normally bought a $25 family licence, now they got their children and say ,'Oh, you go get your own licence and try to catch your own salmon.'"

With files from Peter Cowan