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How low do you let wild steelhead stocks get before sensible conservation steps are taken? I plead wiyh you too stop commercial fishing at the mouth of the Skeena now! The tourist Angler will stop comming and you will not only destroy peoples livelyhoods but every CANADIAN CITIZEN will be worse of with millions of dollars of lost overseas income. Our group of 4 anglers alone have spent in excess of $800000.00 chasing steelhead over the last 10 years!!!!!

– Tony Hayes 17 months ago

Wake up, I pay you a License fee, this is a tax, you have the responsibility to
spend my tax dollors and fees responsibily.  Steelhead runs are at record lows...WHY CONTINUE COMMERCIAL NET OPENINGS?  IF you alow the openings to continue,. you will destroy the Steelhead fishery for this year and beyond!!!!

Please close the netting NOW!!!!!

– Ralph Gaudio 17 months ago

I have been fishing the Babine River, part of the Skeena system for over 15 years and the decline in Steelhead populations have me considering to try Alaska instead. The continued mismanagement of the wild stocks of the Skeena system is nothing less then an obvious failure of those entrusted with the responsibility!

If corrective action is again avoided or delayed heads should roll at DFO!H

– Phil Erickson 17 months ago

Oregon needs to hire the best and brightest of the B.C. Fish and Wildlife managers in charge of the fisheries desperately to manage the coyote population.  In a few more year these men will need new jobs as they will have worked themselves out of a job with nothing left to manage--both tourist and fish extinct.  Here in Oregon they would enjoy the whole hearted support of the Sheep Rancher Association.

– Jon Wayland 17 months ago

Who out there in cyberspace can help Jeff Vermillion and the North Coast Steelhead Alliance find the political or legal lever which will make the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) change course (i.,e. pull the nets) before it is too late?

– Brian Rogers 17 months ago

I continue to be amazed at the short sited approach most Governments take on environmental issues.  Nearly all enviromental issues are long term in nature.  What you do today may take years to see the results of that action or lack of action.  So it is in British Columbia.  The Government yields to the loudest voice (commercial fisherman) with nearly total disregard for common sense, economics or science. Like Eastern Canada and the Atlantic Salmon they will only take action after it is too late.  I will be fishing in three lodges this year (Hodson on the Dean, Hull's on the Bulkley and Babine Steelhead Lodge) and another 3 weeks on my own with friends.  I imagine I will spend well over $20,000 for those stays, flights, food, gas, licenses and motels.  The last three years the run has been poor.  If the trend continues this will be my last year. For those who refer to me as an alien and ask me to go around hunting for a place that might sell a day license to fish "Class" water I guess it doesn't make any difference to them anyway.  When all the fish are gone I wonder if they will still call these once wonderful steelhead streams "class".  It is obvious those politians don't have any!

– Mike Aldrich 17 months ago

Success was achieved in stopping fish farms along the North Coast waters as part of the Friends of Wild Salmon campaign, a true testament to what can be achieved through the voice of the greater public. We need to turn this voice towards the sustainability of our rivers and begin focusing on the cummulative effects of mining and the impact of the commercial fisheries on "by-catch" such as our cherished steelhead. Speak up, it is the only way to effect change via a broad mass movement.

– Len Vanderstar 17 months ago

After fishing and guiding for many years in both hemispheres, I am apalled at the mis managment of such a world class fishery. I am surprised, after all the lisencing revenue, revenue created from anglers visiting the area, and the number of jobs that could be lost if the steelhead  cease to migrate up the Skeena, that the DFO does not take this matter seriously. Also, I though the DFO was based on a conservation ethic which does not seem to be the case presently. ACT NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!

– adam henderson 17 months ago

British Columbia should be on the forfront of conservation. Setting standards that can be regarded as the best in the world protecting our native plants and animals. What kind of example are we leading for others when we let something so valuable as our Pacific Salmon and Steelhead slip away under our own fault in poor management decisions. We are creating a great catastrophe that could one day be compared to the Bison of the plains. What can you do once it is too late? What will we leave behind for our children in British Columbia. What will be our legacy? Protection and Conservation, or decemation and depletion? Stop the netting at the mouth of the Skeena NOW! Seek the Real Values.

– Eric Van Velzen 17 months ago

Please stop the madness

– Peter Castellanos 17 months ago

     It's easy, and in come circles, fashionable, to criticize the current American government for its horrendous behavior, both domestically and internationally.  One would think that our friends to the north, who in recent history have made better choices, would avoid the the abysmal mistakes they're making, in their management of the Skeena River's runs of wild Steelhead and Salmon.  It's so un-Canadian, (so American?), that it defies logic, and defiles your national character.  I only hope it's not too late for Canadians to be once again Canadian.

– Will Garrett 17 months ago

The BC government needs to take immediate action to halt netting and do everything in its power to help protect and promote its world famous wild steelhead fisheries. There is only one Skeena drainage and if we let short sighted politicians ruin this resource, the entire region will suffer. Just let the steelhead return unmolested by nets and the greatest summer steelhead system will thrive. Open it to commercial fishing for a few months so an already failing commercial fishing community can collect government subsides for the rest of the year, and a resource of global import will be lost forever. For any responsible representative, this should not even be a debate. Help this region do the right thing and pull the nets now.

– Ken Morrish 17 months ago

You will probably get hundreds of letters from loyal wild steelhead and salmon fishermen expressing their concern about the sad state of affairs that appears to be worsening in the Skeena river system. There are thousands, who are as frustrated as they are, who are being seriously impacted by the situaion.  Canada and BC in particular have always been a haven for the sportsmen who thrill at the prospect of returning every year to enjoy  one of  the few remaining places on this earth where the government has pledged to maintain it's wilderness rivers and streams in their natural state. Please don't let us down.
Few if any of us ever take the fish out of the water; we release those beautiful creatures so they can continue their amazing  journey up river. Thank you for your consideration

Geoff Nathanson,   Malibu California

– Geoff Nathanson 17 months ago

The loss of a sports fishery on the Skeena will have profound effects on local economies.  I witnessed the collapse of salmon fishing in Scotland and the devastation caused to lodges and hotels that catered to anglers.  The DFO should ask whether this is what they would want for the Skeena.  The value of a netted salmon is trivial compared to the widespread benefits of a healthy sport fishery. Get the nets off before it is too late.

– Jim Drysdale 17 months ago

I've been to B.C. five times in the last eight years to fly-fish for steelhead, making four of those trips to the Skeena system. I've spent thousands of dollars and enjoyed your marvelous province a great deal. I was planning to come again this fall, but given the low returns of steelhead the last two years and the apparent continued mismanagement of fish runs, I'll likely cancel my trip this year. You can't fish for steelhead that aren't there; why throw money away? I'd rather spend my dollars where official policy and prevailing public sentiment indicates my business is appreciated.
I feel bad for the many good B.C. residents who make their living in fishing lodges, sporting goods stores, motels, and restaurants. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is reducing the opportunity of these Canadians to succeed in life while apparently attempting to support a faltering commercial fishing industry. What possible sense does it make to allow netting when fish runs are teetering on the brink? The goal of Fisheries and Oceans might not be to bludgeon local businesses and to drive steelhead to extinction, but that's the likely outcome of its efforts. Is that what Canadians want? Maybe heads need to roll.
Why doesn't DFO look at buying out the B.C. fishermen's nets, as occurred in Maritime Canada? If the B.C. fishing industry succeeds in destroying the fish runs, the international reaction to such a catastrophe wouldn't bode well for anyone in the province, in any industry.
It's hard to understand how government can have such enlightened salmon policy on one coast, and utterly unenlightened policy on the other.

– Richard Ripley 17 months ago

I've been to B.C. five times in the last eight years to fly-fish for steelhead, making four of those trips to the Skeena system. I've spent thousands of dollars and enjoyed your marvelous province a great deal. I was planning to come again this fall, but given the low returns of steelhead the last two years and the apparent continued mismanagement of fish runs, I'll likely cancel my trip this year. You can't fish for steelhead that aren't there; why throw money away? I'd rather spend my dollars where official policy and prevailing public sentiment indicates my business is appreciated.
I feel bad for the many good B.C. residents who make their living in fishing lodges, sporting goods stores, motels, and restaurants. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is reducing the opportunity of these Canadians to succeed in life while apparently attempting to support a faltering commercial fishing industry. What possible sense does it make to allow netting when fish runs are teetering on the brink? The goal of Fisheries and Oceans might not be to bludgeon local businesses and to drive steelhead to extinction, but that's the likely outcome of its efforts. Is that what Canadians want? Maybe heads need to roll.
Why doesn't DFO look at buying out the B.C. fishermen's nets, as occurred in Maritime Canada? If the B.C. fishing industry succeeds in destroying the fish runs, the international reaction to such a catastrophe wouldn't bode well for anyone in the province, in any industry.
It's hard to understand how government can have such enlightened salmon policy on one coast, and utterly unenlightened policy on the other.

– Richard Ripley 17 months ago

With all the history on record of what has happened in Europe, the East coast of N America, Chile, and many other parts of the world, why are you letting this happen?

– Tom White 17 months ago

Why is it that the DFO won't fix anything till it is completely broke? For years the writing has been on the wall about west coast overfishing and the reduced stocks of steelhead that get caught up in the salmon netting. The Thompson River is basically finished as a steelhead haven and now  the mighty Skeena is on its knees but our government can't find the balls to regulate the commercial netting and is willing to let the sport fishery ( who don't kill the fish ) wither away .Maybe the plan is to farm raise steelhead beside the Atlantic salmon operations once the runs have disappeared. Like many steelheaders, I've just cancelled my yearly steelhead trip because of very low fish numbers. Good thing I have photos from the previous trips so my grand children will see my stories aren't just hot air unlike the DFO's steelhead management agenda.

– Miles Hopkins 17 months ago

Can we not build a fund to buy out the licences for netting the Skeena. Redirect the employment lost to the salmon and steelhead fishing lodges. Stop netting now and start payments from classified river licences, Trout Unlimimted, Steelhead Alliance, Fly Fishers, Nature Conservancy etc.etc. A netted and dead salmonoid fetches $ 2.00 /lb and the released salmoid $ 700.00/lb via tourism, hotels, airlines, food etc.etc. The local communities all generate jobs and revenue which inturn generates votes for the politicans isn't this called " A No Brainer"

Alex Carnegie

– Alex Carnegie 17 months ago

In an age of increasing environmental and conservation issues it is very frustrating that our government continues to take a reactive, band aid, approach on all levels.  It appears once again that we are long past the point where DFO could form a proactive plan and are forced into a reactive position, judging from the posting here of canceled trips and concerned anglers aside from the actual data collected. It is disappointing that our fishery has come to this point!  I don’t claim to have all the answers nor should I have to, that is what the DFO positions are in place for.  Who is to blame or what the excuses are, does not interest me, just fix it!  Now is the time to step to the plate and do your job.  Make the tough decisions, show us concerned anglers that the DFO can listen, learn and execute a smart management plan to save our fishery before it is too late!

– Dean Barnard 17 months ago

As a concerned citizen, angler, and long time tourist to your area,  I am appalled at the lack of concern and insight into the Skeena Fishery by the DFO. DFO’s failure to manage the Skeena fishery properly is a tradgedy.  It makes no economic or environmental sense.  Your current management is destroying a very unique resource and tourist economy. You have a duty to protect the resource and I hope that you will have the courage to enforce existing commercial fishery requirements and implement more strict controls so that non-target species such as steelhead are protected. This is more important to the local communities and their economies than the commercial fishery. You should pull the commercial nets now in accordance with your mission.  It is clear to me at this time that the North Coast fishery should under no circumstance be considered for M.S.C certification.

– Cliff Watts 17 months ago

When is a scandal not a scandal? Stupid question with a simple answer - when it's the policy of an uncaring and thoughtless government - one whose fisheries managers appear determined to oversee the complete destruction of a truly wonderous natural resource - the steelhead of the Skeena. These are multiple stocks of one of the greatest of all fish species, fish that have their heritage in the rivers and streams of the Skeena system, fish that are the direct descendants of the steelhead that ran the system countless generations ago. How dare our government condone such a course of action, one that has all the makings of a true environmental disaster. David Anderson and the Liberals knew what was needed to save the coho not that many years ago. Who now is going to ride to the rescue of the Skeena steelhead before it is too late?    
                

– peter mcmullan 17 months ago

You dont have to be a brain surgeon to figure this out!!!!   The Salmon are the life of the coast.  Not just from a fishing and economic standpoint for, but more importantly from a "biofuel" standpoint.  From a simple biomass measurement it is easy to see that the coast is starving.  The decline in wild Salmon numbers will continue topple an ecosystem if action is not taken.   It is easily understood as follows:

1) Fish farms have caused vast declines in the return of the wild stocks of Salmon.  (If you still dont believe this, then you are either being paid off or you need to go back to primary school)
2) Fish farming is BIG buisness and it makes A LOT of money, coats a lot of political pockets and is lying through its teeth about the devestation it is causing on the wild stocks in BC.  
3) People who make money by raping the environment, usually lie so they can keep doing it.
4) Clear data has been shown to you at the DFO that FISH FARMING MUST STOP.
5) Netting must not be allowed on the Skeena system because of the decreasing number of returning salmon.
6) If netting is allowed to continue, there will be fewer and fewer Salmon species returning and the Steelhead population will also suffer greatly.

Open your eyes at the DFO before you damn the greatest natural resource BC has!!!

– Steven Hodges, MD 17 months ago

The incidental bycatch of Skeena-bound steelhead as a result of recent commercial netting cannot be justified. The short-term economic value of commercial net openings for salmon will not only impact non-target steelhead, but will also impact less abundant runs of salmon in the mixed-stock fishery.

As economic value always seems to trump ecological value, consider the miniscule dollar value of a dead salmon or steelhead caught in a gill net compared to the value of a salmon or steelhead caught and released by a recreational fisher. It seems to be a win-win situation; in a recreaional fishery, the fish are released, allowing the resource to replenish naturally, while hotel managers, airlines, car rental companies, fishing lodges and guides receive a connected boost from dollars spent in the tourism industry.  

The archaic mis-management of salmon stocks and the issue of by-catch of lower abundant stocks (e.g. Skeena steelhead) must end. Those with the power to change management techniques should look to the future and realize that a sustainable catch and release fishery that benefits both the ecosystem and the economy is by far the only sensible option.

Trystan Willmott

Fisheries/Wildlife biologist.

– Trystan Willmott 17 months ago

I have had the pleasure of fishing for Skeena steelhead for 24 years.  The $$$$$ spent has been significant to the economy of Smithers and to the Provance.  How can the DFO continue to mis-manage such a valuable resorce without a major rebellion from the people of the region.  Heads need to roll.  The loby from the commercial fisherman must be enormous, very powerfull, and very, very well funded.  You should be ashamed.  I only address the economic side of this story because it is the only thing that will effect the way DFO acts on the issue.  The ecological and  ethical issues are so obvious I won't address them here.  I can only believe that $$$'s are leading the way for the DFO to act so irresposibly.  I hate to say this but it remindes me of the good old USA.  Shame on You.  After writing many letters and giving to several orgnizations to save the wild steelhead with NO results, my only recorse is to not return this year.  If enough anglers stay home and it's not to late maybe something will be done.  Kirby Williams

– kirby williams 17 months ago

Like Kirby "above" me, i cannot count the money i spent to go to Canada (Smithers) for Steelheading in the famous Babine. Is this the last year i am traveling from Denmark to BC because of the netting in the mouth of Skeena??
Hope not.................

– Arne Kristensen 17 months ago

The continued cowing of the DFO to the Commercial fishing sector is doing a disservice to all Canadians. You first and foremost should make decisions for the good of Canada and its citizens and not be duly influenced by the minority who benefit from this antiquated approach to fisheries management. Simply the netted By Catch is too great to sustain the wild run of Steelhead in the Skeena drainage.
To lose something so great would be tragic. The DFO is empowered to prevent this from happening. I implore you to close all netting in the Skeena System.

– Dean Bell 17 months ago

It appears to me that if the salmon and steelhead numbers are historically low, then why do we continue the commercial netting?  
Why is it not the goal to increase the returns?  Instead, we continue to net, catching steelhead along the way.  
British Columbia has the ability to significantly increase steelhead numbers by ending this practice of netting at the mouth of our Skeena.  So why don't we?
I've spent over $50,000 on equipment, boat, and other equipment to go steelheading in the Smithers area.  The amount spent per fish caught is in the thousands!!!  Is a steelhead worth more caught and killed by commercial netters, or caught by me??
Isn't the answer obvious?  Let's wake up while we still can.

– Adam Sproule 17 months ago

Sirs this is just plain stupidity as a scientist/engineer and avid steelheader and fish conservationist I can not believe the same errors are being made by DFO.  You pertain to be scientists. i.e., observe, learn from observations and measurments and then make scientific deductions to explain your observations.  Well you have made the observations but fail miserably at the deductions and conclusions.  If you continue on this path, i.e., the fishing openings then you will not have learned from the cod and Atlantic Salmon histories in our own country by your same department DFO.  You should be embarrassed and you should be disallowed the title and use of the title "SCIENTISTS".  You neither follow scientific principles nor common sense.  Come on get out of the field any competent lay person would not allow these openings given these data.

– Dr. Wm. Gordon Bacon, P.Eng; FCAE 17 months ago

It is a matter of data.  The data supports that action to protect the fishery needs to be taken now.  The 10 year data shows clearly we are at the pick of the run at this time.  Read the comments, people are making decisions as to whether to spend the money this fall to travel to BC for world class fishing or spend their money closer to home.  Those Canadian Business people who benefit from the out of province money will be economically hurt.  The tourist dollars paid in the form of taxes will not be spent again hurting the populace of this province.  And there is a real chance that the sport angler will not come back as they find new areas to fish.  Areas where the government actually recognizes the economic benefit of the sport angler.  Make the correct decision for the future and not the politically motivated decision of the past.

– Tim Wagner 17 months ago

I am once again shocked and dismayed at the total disregard and abrogation of your fiduciary responsibilities in exercising the duties of your office. Your country and constituency of British Columbia entrusted you with the responsibility to adopt an un-biased pragmatic approach in the protection of their fisheries of which you chose by your actions to betray, thus placing a national treasure in harms way, for what? Greed? Politics?
From what I read it is once again a case of failing to hear local biologists and concerned parties forecast a below average return of silvers and steelhead and yet they chose to ignore facts and science for the financial benefit of but a few at the cost of many with full knowledge of the impact on threatened and below target threshold returning species.    
The law and standard operating procedure as I understand it is clear in that protected, threatened, and endangered species were to be revived and released utilizing recovery boxs.
The time has come to step up and enforce regulation’s, place observer’s on site, pass legislation prohibiting actions that imperial depleted, threatened species, and adopt a long term approach to the issue.  Without a regulatory system in place and representatives on the water to enforce compliance the future looks bleak to say the least as exemplified by the events of last year.
Now, one year later and it is once again a case of de ja vu and the numbers tell the story. A very poor testament to their collective (or better yet lack of)leadership.

– CS Lilley 17 months ago

What's the big deal? Let's let the fish stocks languish so the Grizzly bears and Eagles will starve.  Those bears and birds are so pesky. And the people of the First Nations aren't really that important to the Canadian government. They can be such a bother. Oh...the thousands of catch and release salmon and steelhead anglers who leave  $10,000+ per trip in the local economies might stay home. But who really cares about people in small towns. No reason to worry, as long as a few hundred commercial fisherman on the coast can keep netting and making money.
Consider the data; consider the human cost; if nothing else, consider the loss of tax revenue from the current policy and then make the change to responsible government. It is a BIG DEAL!
Please don't wait!

– Peter Neidecker 17 months ago

It is time to work together. We are at a critical juncture and need to protect these fish. If we are not able to respond appropiately to these challenges we will no longer have a resource. I implore you to do the right thing. Close or limit the net fishery NOW while it still makes a difference.   respectfully   John Cunningham

– john Cunningham 17 months ago

Both sides of the steelhead returns issue need to be "knocked up the side of the head"! Politicians and BCF for the inanity of capitulating to commercial fisheries interests over the more lucrative tourism and sport fishing industries and the Tourism industry, including, lodges, outfitters, sportingoods dealers, restaurants, etc., etc, as well as sport fishermen and women themselves for apathy and complacency in letting the steelhead decimation get to this point without substantive action.  If $$ really does speak then let's pull our $$ out. Stop participating - both Canadian citizens and "aliens" alike! And in addition to just these letters, lets start publishing our comments in local newpapers in the areas where we go to fish. It's time to get someone's attention.

– Victor and Sandy Colvard 17 months ago

This is the letter I just sent out.

o Whom It May Concern (Although it seems not many in Gov.):


            My name is James Britton and although you have probably never heard my name I have been involved in the fish guiding business all of my life. I own the only lodge on the Morice River. My family has run the Morice River Steelheading operation for 27 years. The reason you have never received a letter from me before is because I am not very good at dealing with ignorance, stupidity and dishonesty. I worried that I would offend people and not be heard. That said after reading the many respectful letters you have received over the years I will forewarn you that some people are about to be offended. To that I can only say the truth sometimes hurts. Below I have some very basic questions that I as well as other steelhead and salmon fisherman would like to get answered as well as some comments to follow.


            Let me start by saying that I by no means expect commercial fisherman to stop making a living. My family and myself have been involved in resource related businesses all our lives and would never expect someone to sacrifice their living so I could make mine. That said it seems as though just that is happening to me.


1)    Why are they still fishing this summer when the test fishery is indicating some of the lowest returns ever of steelhead? This is a really easy question. I can write it slower if you like. I should expect that you could reply immediately. You are all smart, well-educated people, what’s the hold up? I can only assume it is because you know no one is gong to like the answer which is that DFO is continuing full force to kill all remaining Steelhead.

2)    The government heavily subsidizes the commercial fishery. I would then like to know what programs the DFO and government has planned for the fish guides that as we speak are losing cliental, revenue, and their source of living? I should also not forget the hotels, restaurants, sporting good stores, airlines, etc. Also the Rupert netters go on welfare when the season ends or if there are too few salmon to harvest. This same government hand out has to be available to the sport sector as well?

3)    Where is the money going every year that I pay towards my guide license and fishing licenses? It is obviously not going to help save steelhead and salmon.

4)    Why are you not taking action or giving us answers? In case you didn’t know you work for us to.

5)    Why do you refuse to accept the careful economic studies that prove unequivocally that Sport angling in the Skeena produces on the order of TWICE as much revenue to the province as the commercial onslaught? Also, ninety % of salmon and 100% of steelhead are utilized non-consumptively and with out ANY government subsidies! Paddy Green lies and says the commercial netting employs 25,000 people in Prince Rupert. What a bold face crock of shit!

6)    Why is the entire West coast salmon fishery watched over by only one DFO agent again this year? If he got off his ass and walked down to the docks he would see that less then one in one hundred boats operate the mandatory oxygenated fish revival box. But that matters little: a brailed fish is a dead fish.

7) I would like to know why when simple low-tech Win/Win solutions that work for all stakeholders exist now that they have not been mandated. All anadromous fish in the Skeena must  be harvested selectively in their river of origin using weirs and fish wheels.



If I ran any of my businesses the way you are running our fishery I would have been out of business a long time ago. This is not rocket science we are dealing with here. It is time for DFO and government to get your heads out of your Asses and start taking action. This problem is not going away and the longer you keep your heads in the sand the worse it is going to get. I have never seen such a bunch of stupid smart people in my life. If I am offending anyone I am sorry but as mentioned above you work for me and anyone else that pays tax dollars or buys fishing licenses, and when my employees screw up they hear about. Truth of the matter if I had people working for me, doing the job your doing you would all be fired. I want answers now!



            The other thing I would like to add is that I believe it is time for all of the guides, anglers and any one else with a stake in the matter to quit being so kissy huggy about all of these matters. Why should I pay for my fishing and guides licenses? Why should my guests pay for their licenses? Why should anyone when the money is being pissed away on salaries for a bunch unmotivated government employees that our not working to help our interests at all. I would think if we where all a united front some one would have to start listening? I would also like to ask would there not be some sort of legal recourse we could take? There has to be some sort of a law preventing people from doing such atrocities.


            I could go on for hours and the truth be know I have had to stop writing this letter a half dozen times because it was becoming one f-word after another. For the 2008 season I will:


1)    Refuse to pay for my rod days.

2)    Refuse to pay for my guide’s license.

3)    Refuse to buy a classified waters license.

4)    Refuse to buy a steelhead stamp.

5)    But, I will continue to fish if any steelhead survive the blood bath at Rupert



Unless some sort of action is taken by DFO between know and the 2008 season. I would also encourage fellow guides, steelhead fisherman and anyone else that cares for our wild steelhead and salmon stocks to do the same. This is all complete and utter bullshit and I won’t stand for it anymore. Whatever recourses I will face because of these decisions I am willing to accept in the fight to save one of the most magnificent fisheries on earth. I hope I will not stand-alone.





           James M. Britton

– Jim Britton 17 months ago

Like many of the above, alien steelhead fishermen who enjoyed the world's "pristine chaple" of N American steelhead runs for several decades, I will not be returning this year. Didn't make the trip last season either becasue of the shocking, indiscriminate take of wild, Skeena steelhead in the net fishery.
I am not a wealthy sportsman, and must chose my adventure fishing destinations wisely.  The horrid mismanagement of the fababled Skeena salmonid runs that I have watched since 2000, will no doubt keep me from returning indifinately. I can see no indication on the Provincal level that leads me to believe that sports fishing concerns mean didly squat to high level politicans and DFO bureacrats.  What a shame.  Once these magnificent stocks of wild steelhead from the Skeena headwaters are reduced to remnant status, it will be too late. Believe me I know the drill, haveing earned my living as a steelhead biologist here in Idaho.  If BC follows the same track that all of it's southern management agencies have have taken in similar situations, massive hatchery programs can't be far behind.......
I guess it's New Zealand for me from now on. I will miss many great Canadian friends that I have made in the Smitters Region over the last 25 years.
There is still time, but quick action is absolutely mandatory.  The combined impacts of poor ocean conidtions and compromised habitat due to global warming added to the inslut of indiscriminate, over-fishing will break the backs of these great runs of wild steelhead.

Steve Pettit

– Steve Pettit 17 months ago

Why do you choose to allow over fishing at the mouth of the Skeena?  Based on the data, there can be no doubt that this is happening, and that it is happening now – on your watch.  Please stop the devastation – and stop it now – August 15, 2007 – while there is at least some time left for a few fish to escape the nets.

If you continue not doing your job on behalf of BC citizens, today's interests of commercial fishermen will destroy tomorrow's stocks.  Tomorrow’s commercial fishermen will be even more desperate than today’s.  If you cave in to their desires both today and tomorrow, there will be virtually no fish left for anyone -- commercial fisherman, recreational anglers, first nations, or those whose livelihood depends on supporting any of these.  History has seen this happen in the UK, Europe, and on the east coast of Canada. What possible motivation would cause you to ignore these lessons of history to the ultimate detriment of virtually all citizens of BC?

Specifically, how is it in the best interests of BC for you to stand by idly at this crucial moment? How is it in the best interests of BC to allow over fishing at the mouth of the Skeena to destroy steelhead and other fish stocks for decades to come – if not forever?  How is it in the best interests of BC to ignore implementation of management measures that were carefully worked out and agreed upon through the participation of all concerned stakeholders?  

What would happen to the economy of BC if critical fish populations were to fail?  Why are you allowing this to happen on your watch?  How will you feel about your personal stewardship after the fish are gone and everyone is legitimately looking for someone to blame?

Please answer the above questions. And, most of all, please do your job now: stop the devastation of fish stocks now.  Urgent action is required, or else there will be piddling if any fish left to talk about.

– Tom Keelin 17 months ago

These are all sincere and reasonable comments.  But does the DFO really care?

– Slack Line 17 months ago

Sorry, I was cut off.  Lets cut to the chase.  Boycott BC, lets start going someplace where they appreciate Aliens!  And the fish we fish for.

– Slack Line 17 months ago

Gentlemen,and ladies, this is my third letter, chastising the DFO, but the frustration grows daily.

Thank God for the Freedom of Information Act that uncovered countless DFO admissions of mismanagement , and providing false information.


For me, my steelheading began in 1976. Since that time, it has been the single most cherished angling experience of my year. The wild steelhead of the Skeena River are the "crowned jewel" of our beloved sport.  Extinction is a true possiblitiy.
Implement extreme measures now!!!, or the domino effect, will leave anglers, guides,lodge owners, restaurants, sporting good shops, etc. etc. , all  crushed by the DFO actions in 2006 and 2007.

– Ed Exum 17 months ago

Gentlemen,and ladies, this is my third letter, chastising the DFO, but the frustration grows daily.

Thank God for the Freedom of Information Act that uncovered countless DFO admissions of mismanagement , and providing false information.

For me, my steelheading began in 1976. Since that time, it has been the single most cherished angling experience of my year. The wild steelhead of the Skeena River are the "crowned jewel" of our beloved sport. Now, Extinction is a true possiblitiy!!!

Implement extreme measures now!!!, or the domino effect, will leave anglers, guides,lodge owners, restaurants, sporting good shops, etc. etc. , all  crushed by the DFO's actions in 2006 and 2007.

– Edward Exum 17 months ago

Impossible to say enough about the necessity to curtail netting at the mouth of the Skeens. The steehead resource is priceless. Suspend the netting and give the fish a chance to build up their numbers. Hopefully, the officials in charge will see the obvious advantages to the majority of people in Canada in preserving this very special resource.

– Al Cooper 17 months ago

Please do not allow any further gill netting in the Skeena River System. Do not destroy another fishery by caving in to a few commercial fishermaqn.   The economic value of salmon and steelhead as a sport fish far out weighs the commercial value. As well commercial fishing is not selective and endangered runs can not be protected to a degree which will ensure a continued resource. Returns of salmonids are a record lows which I believe indicates a lack of responsible management. The time to start managing the resource to preserve and rebuild future runs is now.

– Mel Hocken 17 months ago

Myself and many other fishermen spend millions of dollars every year to fish the world renowned Skeena River and its tributaries. Why does the DFO sanction such poor management practices with flagrant disregard for conservation and other user groups? It doen't make any sense for the  government to ignore a vibrant sport fishing industry which supports good paying jobs, communities and government revenue with little impact on the resource. In complete contradiction to this, the commercial salmon industry heavily impacts the wild steelhead and salmon resources, requires heavy subsidies from government and pays fisherman low prices for one of the world’s best food sources.
As shown in the FOI documents, biologists are saying that this fishery is broken and provincial fisheries scientists are outraged at the way this fishery is being mismanaged. Why are these professionals who have a keen understanding of the fishery not being taken seriously?
I urge you to take immediate management action so that the 2007 steelhead and salmon returns are not a disaster as well. Your current fisheries plan contains the very same pitfalls which made 2006 a conservation nightmare. The DFO not only needs to stop the netting now, it also needs to change the system for the future. It is ridiculous that it comes down to money. We are talking about losing an animal species of one of the most phenomenal fisheries in the world. Please ensure this fishery is properly managed before it suffers the same fate as the east coast fisheries.

– Howard Cole 17 months ago

I think it is pretty basic. They are still not listening and it may be time for us all to take this to the next level. It may be to late for this year but I would like to try and stratigize between guides, local and out of province fisherman and anyone else that has a stake in the matter to:

1) not pay for rod days.
2) not pay for Guides Licences.
3) not buy a steelhead tag.
4) not buy a classified waters licence.

       I believe that if we can do this as a mass group they won't be able to fine thousands of people and if they do we take it to court and would begin getting some media coverage that we need.

       The other thing I think that we need to address is a man by the name of Jimmy Pattison. For those of you that don't know he is one of the richest men in Canada. A billionare and as well is the man that owns the majority of the fishing boats and processing plants in Prince Rupert.

        

– James Britton 17 months ago

This is discouraging!  To plan and think about a trip to the Kispiox and Skeena for a year, and then to read that the federal agency tasked with protecting the fishery is actually only protecting a special interest group.  Canadian resource people may think they are better than those in the U.S. doing the same work (Bush appointed cronies), but they are not.  Now, in both countries, protecting the resource takes second seat to political pressure.  Can we some day realize that we share this planet with other life forms, and they, too, have a right to exist.  It should be our focus to protect these special creatures.  Steelhead have suffered from Baja to Alaska from overfishing, habitat abuse, water extraction, and a myriad of other abuses at the hands of humans.  The Skeena system is the last place on earth for large, wild steelhead.  Why can't they be revered for what they are - magnificant, beautiful creatures that should have all the rights to life we have.  Would you kill your mother or father in a gillnet, and then say, "oh, they are bi-catch."  Needless killing of one of God's great creatures is morally wrong.  I encourage the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans to do the right thing - protect steelhead from the net fishery.

– Mark Rockwell 17 months ago

What can I say that the numbers don't tell.  Stop the commercial netting at the current levels that are killing the Wild Steelhead run!  Now! Please!  You must realize the damage you are doing with your decisions.

It may be of little concern to you, but I have fishing the Skeena system every year since 1986.  I have added a considerable amount of money into BCs economic system.  To see the current policy decisions breaks my heart as a fisherman and is very short sighted on your part.  Please reconsider your actions and stop the current trends or you will kill a wonderful resource.

Please look at the numbers.  Please recognize the damage.  Please take action now.......before it is to late!!!!

– Rex Lester - Denver, .CO 17 months ago

I am from the UK and cannot belive the lack of concern you are showing for the protection of Steelhead on the Skeena. (current runs down 68%) I have been comeing to BC 3 times a year since 1989 when this same lack of concern finally decemated the Scottish Salmon and made it more attractive to come to BC. You are gambiling with an enourmouse tourist revenue to some of the poorest parts of BC as well as endangering a prized species. As opposed to the UK you brought in a no kill policy for Steelhead in 1989 which was a very practical step.
Now the commercial fisherman are netting and killing these fish in there hundreds if not thousands. Why must you allow netting so close to the esturies?. How much does your government get from commercial fishing? My bet is not even a fraction of what tourist fishers spend on chasing and lovingly returning to the river this wonderful species. Don' make the same mistakes the UK made. Just phone the Scottish tourist board and give yourselfs a shock as to how much tourist revenew they have lost in the last 20 years.
RFD Elliott

– RFD ELLIOTT 17 months ago

The Test Fishery shows a huge decline of Steelhead coming into the Skeena system.   In the past the common sense thing to do was to pull or curtail the commercial side (and give them government support I hope) and allow as many as possible Steelhead to come on up the system.   It is alarming that this is not happening now.   Surely the Commercial lobby is big but somewhere someone in power needs to acknowledge the huge impact that the sport fishery has up in Northern BC.  I was just thinking about how much I and a group I normally come with spend up in the Skeena system and it is really significant at approx 115,000.00 over the last 7 or 8 years.   I too feel bad for the good folks of Northern BC that are directly and indirectly connected to the sportfishery.   I also feel bad for the First Nation biologists who are being obviously ignored.  So Pull the Nets.   PULL THE NETS.  KEEP THE WILD STEELHEAD RUNS  IN THE SKEENA SYSTEM HEALTHY.  THEY ARE SO IMPORTANT. (I want to bring my grandkids some day)
Respectfully submitted,
Loren Irving
Bend Oregon

– Loren Irving 17 months ago

From reading the many correspondences , it is very apparent that a  large population feels as I do. We are dismayed at the apparent lack of management over the wild steelhead fisheries in the Skeena and Frasier River watersheds, among others. Is there no way for the commercial and recreational fishers to "band together" to support and enhance this great resource (as opposed to fighting with each other over a dwindling resource? Are you (the DFO) blind to what is and has been happening to the wild steelhead runs?

I would ask (no, beg) that you wake up and do whatever is needed NOW to restore these fisheries. If you don't, possibly the greatest wild steelhead fishery in the world will needlessly be rendered extinct. With it will go the Millions of $ gladly spent in British Columbia each year. What will happen to the guides, sporting goods stores, gas stations, motels, restaurants and certainly you, the government, who depend on those dollars. Is it worth it?

I have been visiting your beautiful province since 1993, spending from $4000-$12000 per year. ALL the money I spend is left in your province. I take out nothing in exchange--except for some wonderful memories.

We in the "lower 48" have made so many mistakes, it blows my mind why you have not learned from them. Hatcheries will most definitely not replace wild fish!!! Oh well, politics are the same all over. Please do something NOW to bring back these mighty runs of wild fish. Thank you

Irv Conner  

– Irv Conner 17 months ago

Shame on Canada for not protecting a heritage and national treasure.  This short sighted greed has proven over decades to destroy fisheries and make everyone poorer in the long run.  Yet, we still haven't learned the lessons of the past.  And those in power to protect and serve won't stand up do what's right.

– Page Roos 17 months ago

I have not fished the Skeena system but have fished the Thompson River (Fraser system) which is faced with the same dilemma. It is my opinion and the same of many others that these fisheries need to be managed from the top (head waters) down. This means (for you bureaucrats that don't get it) that spawning waters can only have fish in them when allowed to get there!  How difficult is that to understand?  We have managed to mis-manage the Columbia River systemto the point several of our rivers have been closed for up to ten (10) years!  Yet the commercial nets are still harvesting fish down on the lower end.  Please stand up to the commercial fishing lobby and take action before it is too late!

– Gordi Northrup 17 months ago

British Columbia, WAKE UP!  You are out of balance.  It is time you took the politics out of resource management.  

I am a Californian who has flyfished for Skeena and Frasier River Steelhead since the early 1980's.  While an avid flyfisher I do not consider myself a wooly-minded conservationist.  But I do live the words, and I believe BC needs to live the words, of former United States President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who told us:

– Norm Sauer 17 months ago

British Columbia, WAKE UP!  You are out of balance.  It is time you took the politics out of native salmon and steelhead resource management.  

I am a Californian who has flyfished for Skeena and Frasier River Steelhead since the early 1980's.  While an avid flyfisher I do not consider myself a wooly-minded conservationist.  But I do live the words, and I believe BC needs to live the words, of former United States President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who told us:
               "Each generation must deal anew with the raider, with the
     scramble to use public resources for private profit, with the tendency
     to prefer short-run profits to long-run necessities.  The nation's battle
     to preserve the common estate is far from won. . .We must expand the
     concept of conservation to meet the imperious problems of the new
     age."

God speed.

Norm Sauer
Nevada City, California

– Norm Sauer 17 months ago

The DFO might as well poison the Skeena system rather than the slow,but cerain,
death sentence they have placed on the fishery. I guess votes trump economic
benefits. This may be my last year. When you look at the economic devastation caused
by enviro terrorists acting on flawed science why can't we get any attention based on facts-DOWN 68% !

– WHMoore,NY, NY 17 months ago

Gentlemen:

You should be ashamed of yourselves for the continued degradation of the fishery and stocks in and around the Skeena System.
I have watched this inaction for over 20 years!

You are professionals of one sort or another and I am certain some of you surely have trouble sleeping at night when you allow your self to consider the decades long lack of reasonable management of fragile stocks in the rivers.

Who among you has the courage to say NO and take a public stand against the lack of basic honesty and integrity in your proferssion?

Who among you has the sense to realize that a paycheck is not worth the disgrace you bring upon yourselves?

Who among you can no longer rationalize your basic lack of courage and honesty regarding the taking of steelhead fish as incidental by-catch in a dieing commercial fishery?

Many of you are of my age and I am certain your conscience has been seared by years of compromises and unwillingness to speak truth to the powers that pay you.

Can you imagine what legacy you are leaving and how in your lifetime the tide will turn and you will be vilified in the press and in Public for your shortsightedness and cowardice?

Life will go on without the Steelhead stocks of the Skeena, as it has in the Gaspe----but what beauty, what traditions, what values and heritage will be lost in the inter vening times.......LIFE will be poorer for THAT and your dark nights will be haunted by those facts.

You are sportsmen and your children and grandchildren's lives are poorer due to your professional blindness and basic incompetence and willful neglect

Oh sure a few people survived in dieing industries a few years longer----and that beautiful part of the world you had power and responsibility for has been degraded and damaged for generations to come.

Such a LEGACY.

May God be your comfort as no one else should comfort you.

Best Regards

Greg Connolly

– Greg Connolly 16 months ago

There are strong parallels in Europe. British salmon stocks have recovered where traditional gill net fisheries have been bought out and removed. Resurgent recreational fisheries are far more significant to 'river system economies' than unsustainable, exploitative river mouth commercial fishing. The DFO should also look to the demise of wild sea trout fisheries in Europe  - that phenomena is undeniably related to salmon farming and the destructive environmental impact it has. Allowing agribusiness/aquaculture loose in the Skeena system is experimental lunacy, sustaining non-viable fisheries that impact the adandromous health of the Skeena system is equally short sighted.

DFO are custodians of a public interest, they are accountable to local economies that are far larger than the 'commercial fishing interest' and should act accordingly.

Martin Walker

(a former aquaculturist, and now dedicated steelhead fisherman)

– Martin Walker 16 months ago

I have been fishing for steelhead for most of my 63 years, primarily in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  I have not fished the Skeena system in nearly 40 years, but four of us were planning a trip north for 2008.  That trip and the thousands of dollars we would've spent will probably be cancelled due the gross mismanagement of the commercial salmon fishery in the lower river/estuary.

This is stupidity without bounds.  How can such a precious, irreplaceable resource be placed at such risk?  The Skeena and tributaries offer an experience unique on this planet: the opportunity to swing a fly over wild 25# plus summer steelhead.  I sincerely hope someone with a brain recognizes this before it is beyond too late.

David Andruss

– David Andruss 14 months ago

I am from the UK and have been fishing up in BC since 1989. I had 2 trips to the Skeena rivers and one to the Dean. covering spring,summer and winter runs,as I do most years
After many years of fishing the Dean I am sad to say that I can no longer justify this trip due to the severe decline of Steelhead in recent years. I feel sorry for the owners of the Dean river camp. The family have now run there opperation for approaching three generations but personaly I have fished there the last few years in the hope that numbers of fish would at least become acceptable, this has not happened and it has only become even more difficult.
Now to the Babine.
I am lucky enough to have had a week on the Babine for the last 15 years during which time we have had many up and down years but nothing as bad as 2007. The Lodges on the Babine keep acurate records of all steelhead hooked, landed or lost, so it is with real knowledge that I can state, THE WHOLE STEELHEAD SEASON ON THE BABINE WAS DOWN 60%, on both the 5 and 10 year average. Not only were the numbers down but the average weight of each fish recorded was below 8lb with many of the fish not making 5lb. Unherd of!
Canada was the first country to bring in a No kill policy in 89. For a few years they even reduced the netting, so what an earth has possessed them to capitulate to the commercial fisherman? Greed or Stupidity.
If I was a Guide, hotel owner, lodge owner, tackle shop owner any where in BC I would certainly be asking my MP what he was doing to protect my future because if this is allowed to carry on they wont have one. Just ask any Scottish Gilli (sorry there are not any left now, they dissapeared with the Scottish Salmon) They killed them all one way or another.

– Ray Elliott 13 months ago

I have read all your comments about steelhead in the skeena  river and do not agree with any of your comments about commercial fishing in the mouth of the skeena,i have been a commerical fisher for 45 years and a decendent of three generations of fishing,and when i was just a kid i fished with my father for 6 days a week and it never bothered the steelhead population until you anglers started cleaning up the steelhead and putting the blame on the gillnet fishermen have you figured out how many times you can catch the same fish and not harm it or kill it or weaken it for the seals to catch it and eat it,what do you think the seals eat in the winter as you know the steelhead is a trout and they are not sesonal fish,we fish only 16 hours a day and 1 day a week when we used to fish 3 or 4 days a week with night fishing which the dfo stopped and took away some of our fishing areas and gave them to the sport sector,we are just trying to make a living and feed our familys not out there to play with the fish so quit crying and find another way to play.we used to make a decent living on the skeena before the steelhead commitee stopped most of our fishing days. Prince Rupert used to the halibut capital of the world and now not many halibut boats and not many gillnetters.how do you expect the steelhead to survive if you have 5000 to 6000 anglers out at one time,so you can't tell me the commercial gillnetters are harming the steelhead.

– barney Dudoward 6 months ago

barney, you,re still clubbing the seals,nomatter what the world says. 6000 anglers are catching no more than 4 steelheads in 2 weeks,, where,s the rest of them? watching icehockey on tv ?  it,s time to unite fellow anglers, who has the guts to set up with me a professional website , where we can reach eachother and finance real complaints!!!!!!!! wkr robert

– robert 6 months ago

Do you know how many anglers are out there,how many times can you catch the same steelhead and hope it will survive,the seals love it when you weaken the fish and it makes it an easy target .
wake up and smell the coffee,the commercial fishers do not have any impact on your precious steelhead.

– barney Dudoward 6 months ago

Juat a reminder to all sport fishers and commercial sport sectors and steelhead society,We the commercial gillnetters are tired of getting the blame for decline of the steelhead,as i said before we only fish one or two days a week and 16 hours at a time,the gillnetters have been fishing on the skeena for over a hundred years and have not bothered the steelhead,there are some three hundred licenced gillnetters on the northern coast,if we continue to fish one day a week,what do you think we are forced to do,we will take our net drums off and start commercial sport fishing,we don't want to do that because we like gillnetting so i would advise you to just leave us alone and mind your own business before we start minding yours,besides that the skeena belongs to the tsmisipian nation and not the sport sector.i don't think you would like to see 300 gillnetters take their drums off and put on downriggers.thats all i have to say and thank you for understanding our situation.we have always made a living on the skeena as i said before i am a third generation fisherman.

– barney Dudoward 6 months ago

One easy solution to the argument that you seem to have between netsmen and rod anglers is to be found in Fish Farms. Build some now in the vacinity of the estuaries of your rivers and before you know it, as if by magic, you will have solved the problem of Steelhead being caught as a by-product of gill netting for Salmon. Your Steelhead will simply disappear along with your Salmon, we have proved it over here on the West Coast of Scotland.