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DFO has ‘investigation’ into Fraser River salmon poaching

“Obviously, we can’t be there and deal with everything that happens, but we will triage.” — Mike Fraser, DFO Area Chief, Lower Fraser River Basin Conservation and Protection

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The Fisheries and Ocean Service said it was following up on reports of large containers of illegally caught sockeye salmon being dumped around Steveston Harbor.

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The department says a number of enforcement actions are underway.

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Salmon poaching is an inherent concern in the Fraser River fishery, but increasingly this year as commercial fisheries remain closed due to disappointingly low catches of sockeye salmon in peak years of the four-year breeding cycle. It’s getting serious.

Last week, the head of the BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) said that online advertising was on the rise as a sign of poaching, with reports of piles of rotting sockeye salmon dumped on the roadside in the Fraser Valley, and that the DFO had identified the problem. pointed out that it is superior in terms of resources to work on problem.

BCWF executive director Jesse Zeman said: “And the Canadian government clearly has no political will or interest.

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But DFO’s executive director, Mike Fraser, told Postmedia News on Wednesday: I think there is a lot of support for dealing with illegal fishing. ”

Last Friday, the Pacific Salmon Commission updated its mid-season estimate of 6.4 million sockeye salmon, up from 5.5 million at the end of August, bringing about 4.8 million fish to count at the mission’s facilities.

But that’s only two-thirds of the commission’s preseason projection of 9.8 million sockeye salmon, while rivers from the Columbia River to Alaska’s Bristol Bay are experiencing returns that shatter projections.

On the Fraser River, enforcement efforts include regular day and night ground patrols by fisheries officers, helicopter surveillance, and marine patrols at the mouth of the Fraser River for commercial, recreational and indigenous fishing. Mr. Fraser said.

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As of Wednesday, Fraser said he could not comment on the number of enforcement actions the DFO has taken, but only that “many investigations are ongoing and tickets have been issued.” added that a report on enforcement would be made public in the fall.

We also have a small team dedicated to patrolling social media to find and remove ads for the unauthorized sale of Fraser sockeye salmon.

As DFO’s Chief of Conservation and Protection for the Lower Fraser Region, Fraser oversees 20 fisheries officers covering the area from Squamish to Chilliwack.

Mr Fraser acknowledged that the DFO’s executive staff had been cut by about a dozen people, and although the ministry was recruiting to replace it, he could only request resources from the ministry’s Midcoastal Marine Corps. but also through coordinated efforts from state conservation officers and the RCMP.

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He said illegal fishing can be difficult to quantify, but “I think our Conservation (and) Conservation Unit is doing a good job following up on many of these investigations.” I think I do.”

“Of course, we can’t be there and deal with every issue that comes up, but we will triage,” Fraser said, prioritizing reports with sufficient information, such as vehicle license plates and detailed descriptions. increase.

Mr. Fraser advises the public to report suspected illegal fishing or illegal sales to the DFO’s Surveillance Records Reporting Line at 1-800-465-4336 and to verify that he is purchasing fish from a licensed commercial source. said to play a role.

“Make sure they get a receipt and if you’re buying directly from a fisherman, make sure the license authorizing the sale is properly displayed,” says Fraser.

There are also health risks associated with purchasing illegally caught fish that has not been processed in a licensed commercial facility or properly refrigerated and stored to commercial standards.

depenner@postmedia.com

twitter.com/derrickpenner

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DFO has ‘investigation’ into Fraser River salmon poaching

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