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DFO opens recreational fishing season with new digital catch tool

Questions still linger from sport fishers about Chinook on the south coast
A very happy father-daughter fishing team caught a winter Chinook in late March, in an area off the North Island that remains open to Chinook year-round. (Zoe Ducklow photo)

April 1 marks the first day of the new fishing season and Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a new digital tool to help anglers record their catch.

Not every species has to be recorded, but in certain areas all Chinook salmon — also called spring, king, and if it’s quite large, a tyee — have to be recorded. Lingcod and halibut catches in specified areas also need to be written down.

Until now, recreational fishers would print out a paper license and hand write the required catch at the bottom. And then they’d somehow keep that paper dry and readable for the the year, fish blood and saltwater notwithstanding.

Now, as long as there’s cell service, fishers can submit required catch data electronically and lose track of the paper license with no stress.

The optional electronic registry is on the DFO website here: The legislation changed in 2019 to allow for electronic recording, and DFO needed to upgrade their software before it could go public.

This year halibut lovers can keep 10 of the large, flat, delicious fish, and increase of four from last year. They’ve also increased the maximum size to 133 cm from 126 cm.

The cost of an annual tidal licence has gone up by a few cents to $21.89 for Canadian residents, plus a $6.25 Salmon Conservation Stamp that goes to the Pacific Salmon Foundation which promotes salmon restoration, stewardship and enhancement projects in B.C. Five-, three- and one-day licences are also available.

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Meanwhile sport fishing groups are anxiously waiting to hear whether the south coast Chinook fishery will open at all this year.

As an interim measure the season opened with the same restrictions as last year until a any “possible revised management actions” are decided.

Much of Vancouver Island’s west coast and the Georgia Strait have had a non-retention order on Chinook for at least part of the years for the last two seasons.

The Sport Fishing Institute of B.C. maintains there is a way to allow some Chinook fishing while also enacting orders that conserve the species and allow sufficient numbers for Indigenous food, social and ceremonial needs.

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