The Federal Department of Fisheries is releasing a consultation paper which provides two alternatives to protect the foraging areas of the southern resident killer whales. The paper can be found at:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cwvNn9DSv9z5k9IjPKTT0xU56up-gSsK/view?usp=sharing and DFO is accepting comments at DFO.SRKW-ERS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca. until May 3.
The final decision is expected in May.
The map indicates that both scenarios would ensure all recreational and commercial fishing boats leave a buffer of one kilometer for the SRKW population from Beecher Bay to Tsusiat Falls and including the Swiftsure Bank.
Scenario No. 1 states that all fishing would be closed from Sheringham Point to East Point (Port Renfrew).The remaining areas including the Swiftsure would remain the same as last year.
Although a one-kilometer buffer would prevail through the areas, the policy goes further and states that the Swiftsure Bank closure would be a “no go” zone.
Scenario No. 2 states all fishing would be closed from Otter Point to East Point, most of the productive areas of the Swiftsure Bank, including the South side would be closed, and the Swiftsure Bank would be a “no go” area.
Scenario No. 2 would have devastating ramifications for Port Renfrew and Sooke, and in is not necessary.
Scenario No. 1 would provide SRKWs an adequate sanctuary and noise reductions, but still allow communities like Sooke and Port Renfrew to survive while chinook stocks recover.
Both scenarios call for a Swiftsure Bank “no go” zone for recreational and commercial fishers. Rather than a straight line home, quartering across the swells to Port Renfrew, fishers will be forced to buck against the swell and travel the long distance around the closure boundary. Thousands of freighters will continue to travel directly through the closed area.
This measure will not only be dangerous for the smaller vessels, burn double the fuel and emit double the carbon, the freighters will be unable to navigate around the SRKW population while smaller vessels can easily maintain a one-kilometer buffer.
I am asking residents of the Juan de Fuca electoral area and the District of Sooke to read the proposal above and if you agree that some fishing should take place, email the address above and express your support for scenario A with an amendment to remove the “no go” zone on the Swiftsure. It should be included with the rest of the areas, leaving a one kilometer buffer zone.
Port Renfrew and Sooke residents need all our help at this time. History illustrates that these closures will be permanent. We only have a couple of weeks to engage and I truly hope you will join me in helping our fishers, neighbours, and our community.
Mike Hicks, director, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area