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DFO investigates “controversial” fishermen

20 Aug 2013
Fishermen are discarding sockeye and other salmon species dead or almost dead. Photo: Lloyd Guenther/Marine Photobank

Fishermen are discarding sockeye and other salmon species dead or almost dead. Photo: Lloyd Guenther/Marine Photobank

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is investigating fishermen shown to violate fishing regulations in a “controversial video” released last week, but conservation groups argue the fishermen are the solution, not the problem.

Fisheries targeting abundant pink salmon runs on British Columbia’s north coast are required to return chum, sockeye and other salmon species back to the water “with the least possible harm”, yet the video shows fishermen discarding the prohibited species dead or nearly dead.

SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, Watershed Salmon Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation have been asked to hand over their raw footage taken in the Area 6 salmon seine fishery west of Kitimat, BC, Canada.

While the groups have agreed, they say the federal government and companies like the Jim Pattison Group, which controls the largest portion of the seine fleet, are using the fishermen as scapegoats rather than fixing “the broken management system that let this fishery get so far out of control”.

Greg Taylor, a former fishing company executive, now with SkeenaWild, said: “Our objective in releasing the video was to improve the fishery so that future generations have some salmon left, not punish a bunch of hard working guys who are working for Jimmy Pattison.”

“The practices we exposed are commonplace in the fleet, but the fishermen are the solution,” added Aaron Hill, ecologist, Watershed Watch.

At least 167,000 salmon from prohibited species have been discarded in north coast salmon fisheries so far this year, with another 24,000 discovered dead at processing plants.

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Fishermen are discarding sockeye and other salmon species dead or almost dead. Photo: Lloyd Guenther/Marine Photobank

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