For the 2017 salmon fishing season, the Skeena First Nations Technical Committee has recommended that all fisheries targeting Skeena sockeye are closed, due to poor forecasted returns. In light of expected low returns of Skeena sockeye in 2017, committee members have collaborated with each other to develop fishing plans for the 2017 Skeena salmon season.
The committee has come to general agreement on tec...hnical recommendations about how First Nations’ Section 35(1) access to Skeena salmon fisheries can be met and prioritized, second to conservation.
The 2017 fishing season will start closed for fisheries targeting Skeena sockeye (area 4) and measures will be taken to minimize the bycatch of Skeena sockeye in all fisheries targeting other non-sockeye species. FSC opportunities will be considered after July 25th should returns warrant, and Metlakatla fisheries will be following the escapement levels for possible earlier FSC opportunities. The following time and area closures have been proposed to prevent Skeena sockeye harvest:
Area 4 will be closed to any sockeye directed fisheries.
Area 3 will be open for harvests directed on Nass sockeye until June 30. Starting July 1, the outside portions of Area 3 (3A, 3B and 3C) where Skeena sockeye are prevalent will be closed (see Figure 1). Sockeye directed fisheries could continue in the more inside areas for Nass sockeye.
Area 4 will only open to gillnet use with mesh size measuring 7" or greater, to allow for larger fish such as Chinook, Coho, and Steelhead to be caught with little to no impact on the sockeye run.
Area 3, Nass sockeye stocks are forecasted to have a healthier (average) return, and sockeye FSC fishing will occur in Area 3 for the month of June. On July 1, lower portions of 3 (A, B and C) (see Figure 1) will be closed to gillnet fisheries or sockeye.
Metlakatla fisheries will increase the compensation to fisherman for FSC directed sockeye harvest in area 3 or 5 that is validated and distributed to the membership by MFP staff. Spring nets (8” mesh) were purchased to assist fisherman with targeting chinook and other salmon species. We would like to hear from our commercial fishermen and small boat fishers on any proposals for acquiring FSC needs.
Attached is an image showing the fishing areas around the North Coast by number.
We will provide updates as they become available. For more information, please contact the Metlakatla Fisheries staff. These fishing closures to protect Skeena sockeye will end as of September 1, 2017.