Rampant Illegal Fishing in Indian Arm During Pink Salmon Run

Enforcement officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada have reported a surge in illegal fishing activity in Indian Arm as anglers take advantage of a massive pink salmon run. The detachment commander for the DFO’s Fraser Valley West region, Arthur Demsky, stated that fishery officers have issued numerous tickets over the past two weeks, despite conducting only two patrols in the area. Indian Arm is currently experiencing an extraordinary run of pink salmon, with the upper end of the arm being heavily populated by the fish.

Although there are fishing areas in the Lower Mainland, including sections of Indian Arm, there are Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) where fishing is prohibited for all fin fish, including pink salmon. The main purpose of RCAs is to protect rockfish and other bottom-feeding fish such as ling cod. Rockfish grow and mature slowly, and their numbers are currently critically low along the B.C. coast. Therefore, it is crucial to prevent people from fishing for them, as they are highly vulnerable to lures intended for pink salmon.

Rockfish are also susceptible to barotrauma, which occurs due to the change in pressure between the surface and the ocean floor where they live. This can result in the death of the animals or make them more susceptible to predators. It is essential to preserve the rockfish population, and as such, fishing for them is strictly prohibited.

Enforcement officers have been issuing tickets for various offenses, including fishing in RCAs, fishing without a license, fishing with illegal gear, and exceeding catch limits. The fines for these violations range from $200 to $575, depending on the offense. Fishers found to be over their catch limits, which is four pink salmon per person, face fines of $200 plus an additional $50 for each fish over the limit.

The DFO is reminding the public not to fish in RCAs and provides maps of these areas on its website. Furthermore, they urge the public to report any suspicious fishing activity by calling the “observe, record, and report” line at 1-800-465-4336. With limited resources, the DFO heavily relies on the public’s help to provide information about illegal fishing activity.

It is crucial to respect fishing regulations and protect vulnerable fish species. The current surge in illegal fishing in Indian Arm poses a significant threat to rockfish populations, and strict enforcement is necessary to preserve their numbers.