Dean River Debacle

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by brat, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. I heard from a few folks who recently fished the Dean that thanks to an ill-conceived chum fishery at the mouth of the Dean few steelhead are escaping the nets and those that do show clear signs of fatigue and net marks. Below is a letter from April Volkey which you can use as a template to contact the BC Minister of Fisheries and Oceans--and I hope you do.
    Mykiss vobiscum,
    Bob Margulis

    August 7th, 2013
    Hon. Gail Shea
    Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
    Room 556, Confederation Buildling
    Ottawa, ON
    K1A 0A6
    (619) 992-9223
    Dear Minister Shea,
    My name is April Vokey and I am a fly-fishing guide and world traveled
    angler. As the owner of two large guiding operations (Fly Gal Ventures &
    BC Steelhead Adventures), a television personality, public speaker and
    published columnist, I spend the entirety of the year abroad while
    spreading the word on B.C.’s renowned fishing opportunities.
    I am writing to express my distaste at the current gill net fishery and its
    impact in region eight. As a guide on the Dean river who works seven
    days a week during the months of June, July and August, myself, my coworkers
    and my clients have all noticed a major decrease in both the
    steelhead and salmon returns.
    Additionally, the vast majority of our landed fish have been significantly
    marred and disfigured by net marks.
    I am reaching out to you at this time to ask that you implement some sort
    of compromise on such netting practices.
    Gill nets simply do not have the ability to differentiate between fish
    species and intercepted steelhead have a devastatingly high mortality
    As mentioned above, fish who do live through this experience are
    unmistakably tired and scarred as a result. There are no words that can
    express the gravity on the look of all of our guests faces when they see
    such an atrocity.
    We have had an abundance of guests this year who have made it clear
    that they will not be back... further, word of such netting has spread to
    the rest of the angling community and utter disappointment is spreading
    at the lack of economic balancing or willingness to compromise on
    current commercial tactics.
    I ask that if you must continue such fisheries, that we seek solution in the
    cork to web distance and I request that the cork to web distance is
    measured at least 100cm in zones 8-1 through 8-8 from July 1st through
    August 31st.
    Steelhead have been proven to swim the surface in the Dean Channel and
    they spend upwards of 70% of their time within three feet of the surface.
    By hanging the webbing (the part that nets fish) at least three feet down
    from the cork, steelhead can avoid capture with better certainty while
    allowing fisheries to continue.
    By working together, I am certain that we can maintain a balance between
    satisfied commercial anglers, recreational anglers (and accompanying
    tourism), conservation advocates and, of course, the steelhead
    April Vokey
    Darthmonkey and Davy like this.
  2. April could use a bit of humility when communicating with goverment officials. I doubt, after reading the 1st paragraph, her letter gets any further than the round file. My 2 cents.
    Mark Shamburg likes this.
  3. If they get hung up on her bio-content they were never going to help anyway.
  4. Then what is the purpose of the original post? I will help but it surely isn't because of April's bio-content and in fact I almost round filed the post because of it. I did manage to get past her ego and see the true reason to help.

    There is a way to deal with goverment officials and elicit thier support. Hyping ones own accomplishments is not it.
    T Dave, PT, Salmo_g and 1 other person like this.
  5. Hey Kerry, I'm not trying to get in a pissing match about how to write letters to government officials. If you were put off by her writing style of course this is a public forum and you've stated your position.

    Personally, like many other board members I know who April is as she has made many local appearances- spoken at Evergreen Fly club, tied flies at Avid Angler etc... she is fairly well known in the steelhead community.

    The purpose of her introduction was not to increase her speaking fees, it was merely to point out she has skin in the game. She operates a business on the Dean. She does appear on TV. She promotes the BC fishing industry and tells people directly to go fish there. Her personal intro was two sentences and set up the fact she has history on the river and might know a thing or two about the fishing there.

    The Dean river is a bucket list experience for many steelheaders. I'm upset people paid thousands of dollars to have a once in a lifetime experience and found a bunch of gill nets they weren't expecting impacting their fishing.

    I don't want to speak for you but I bet we both are disappointed wild steelhead end up in gill nets. The letter above is proposing a compromise to government officials and I certainly learned something from the original post.
    Brady Burmeister likes this.
  6. No pissing match. I know of her and anyone in the northwest that fishes likely does also. I think she could do well rallying people for the cause and truly hope she does. I just don't think her letter to the minister written in that fashion will do any good. As I said before, my 2 cents.
    David Dalan likes this.
  7. I`m in full agreement with Kerry .
  8. The issue of BC commercial fishing $$$ and Steelhead bycatch are older than April's guiding career. Similar issues have impacted other Steelhead rivers/runs in BC before (Thompson River and the Sockeye gillnetting come to mind).

    It would probably be worth surfing the BC Steelhead Society's webpage for a less personal perspective on this issue.

    Just a few .02 thoughts as I sit here waiting for my training class to resume. :)
    golfman65 and KerryS like this.
  9. Speaking of the Steelhead Society of BC, we have sent in 4 letters to the various officials regarding this issue. We havent got things up on the website yet, simply because our web techie is away hiking. Look us up on Facebook and there is some commentary. Also a contact list and letter template for anyone to use if they care enough about Dean river steelhead to send in a letter of their own, which I would really encourage.

    Letters from non- Canadians are pretty valuable in these sort of scenarios.....Thanks.
    T Dave, aplTyler and golfman65 like this.
  10. Ralfish,

    Why would a letter from a non-Canadian carry any weight at all?

    Seriously, DFO exists for no other purpose than to manage commercial fishing. Killing fish, salmon and other marine species, is what they are about. Steelhead a a nuisance fish species to them that causes reactionary sport fishermen to send nasty letters requiring DFOers to need a stiff drink at the end of their day's work. DFO has been promising to reduce commercial fishing impacts on steelhead to to improve steelhead conservation for well over 30 years. But the way their legislative mandate is set up, institutionally they just don't care. Reducing steelhead harm and bycatch is not on their annual personnel rating forms. They are far more likely to be graded harshly on performance if some salmon run escapes "too" many fish to the spawning grounds that could have and should have been killed in commercial fisheries.

    I think the letters just make for lunch break amusement for DFO before tossing them in the recycle bin. There is no "win" for DFO if steelhead are conserved. Sorry, but the only way to conserve BC steelhead is for Canadians to change DFO's legislative mandate. We have similar issues with sport and commercial allocation in WA and OR. Only a change in the law will change the way things are done on the water.

    Derek Young and Tony Abaloney like this.
  11. one bad letter is better than zero perfectly written letters.
  12. Well...I know what I would do...:)
  13. I've met April at the Speyclave in Sandy several years ago, and yes, she does come across in public like a self-impressed "cutie". In person, she's a totally different person; very nice, sincere, and certainly not your classic "valley girl". I see the letter as definitely "skin in the game", both from the perspective of someone who's income depends on the resource, and someone who knows what she's talking about. The fisheries guy, on the other hand, is probably a political appointee who may or may not know his butt from a hot rock (our Canadian brethren, please correct me if this is incorrect?).
  14. Tourism is big business in BC. Comments from locals who are upset about reduced fishing opportunites carry less weight than from people who will spend $$$ to visit BC in search of fish. The Dean is a special case since pretty much everyone has to spend money to fish it, but I agree with the original point.
  15. Typhoon,

    DFO is federal and just shy of impervious to Provincial concerns about steelhead conservation, which are defined as a freshwater rather than marine species in Canada. If DFO gave a rat's ass about steelhead, they have had over three decades to demonstrate their conservation concern. What they have demonstrated is their dedication to harvesting every last salmon they can define as harvestable surplus, even when it means wiping out co-mingled weaker salmon stocks, which they have done quite well. Sound familiar? WA and OR salmon fisheries have done roughly the same.

  16. ;) Our fellow Canadian steelheaders need to go all out and become - :D ECO Terrorists:D - Whale Wars style. Go get yourself 2-4 Hay bales ...dump the bales into the water just upstream of the nets (just after they are set and out of sight) ;)
  17. If you are going to do this, do it right. The correct way to use hay bales is to wrap them in barbed wire until they are neutral buoyant. This way they will drift just below the surface keeping them out of sight. Also when they float into the net they will start to tumble and the barbed wire will gather the webbing and get tangled in it. With the newer mono nets the bales will have to be cut out of the nets causing the most damage. The net will then need to be repaired taking up a lot of the fisherman's time that he could have spent fishing the net
  18. Salmo: Believe it or not we have been able to change commercial openings and also get gear improvements (Vis "weedlines") at the cost of the commercials to the sole benefit of mykiss. Being jaded is a natural outcome of beating your head into a brick wall year after year, but unfortunatley doesn't accomplish anything useful. Don't ask how I know this. DFO is hamstrung by politicians plain and simple. Letters from non- Canadians carries weight as it brings home the true $ value of steelhead. Especially considering we don't kill them in BC for trophies etc. Politicians listen to $ and votes its really that simple. I wouldn't be surprised to learn the Dean steelhead sport fishery is more valuable than the Dean channel chum salmon fishery. Considering its 85% (or close) foreigners (non-Canadians) fishing the Dean, those letters are important.
  19. I have mixed feelings about this and other classified BC waters. I have no problem paying extra to fish specially managed, classified waters. Where I get lost is if I am forced to pay for special waters, I want it to be specially managed and the target species should be given extra protection, priority, management, enforcement or whatever. However, when the government sells out, sacrifices, and ignores species within classified water status in favor of commercial harvest, I have a hard time shelling out extra coin for classified waters that only get normal, regular management status, e.g., Thompson. The Dean certainly is on my bucket list. However, if the Canadian government expects me to go through a lottery system and pay Class I fees, it better do a better job managing the Dean than it has the Thompson before it gets my money.
  20. Same situation in the PNW of the US. It's not, and has never been, about rebuilding wild salmon and steelhead runs. It's about satisfying all interested groups, including & mostly commercial interests. None of the managers are interested in letting anadromous fish do what they come to freshwater to do. We can subsidize commercial fishing (gillnetting) with hatcheries or let the fish re-populate themselves. Which option trips your trigger? It's time for heavy political pressure in the PNW of both Canada and the USA.

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