Covid-19 and Commercial Fishing - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-18-2020, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Covid-19 and Commercial Fishing

Hi all,

a question for the people on the Pacific Coast, particularly BC / Alaska: Whats going on with commercial fishing (and Ocean sport fishing)? Is it considered an essential service and still going on, or is it shut down as well?

Just wondering whether the fish are getting a break as well..
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-18-2020, 11:51 AM
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I can only speak from what I read of commercial fishing out of Wrangell, Alaska, population 2,400 and is an island. Commercial fishing is considered an essential service in the state of Alaska. Wrangell’s proposed restrictions on people arriving to the island community have been shelved after the state said the Southeast city doesn’t have the authority. City leaders had wanted to coordinate the flow of commercial fishermen and fish plant workers expected to arrive for the season. Workers are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days before arriving. Although Wrangell has a small hospital, it is meant for emergency care, acute care, transitional care and long-term care. Just yesterday I read that they are now able to administer Covid-19 testing, which I found impressive. To date, there have been no cases reported. Other island communities in Southeast Alaska have totally closed their doors, even to returning home owners. From this I would assume it will negatively effect the commercial fishing with a smaller harvest and what is available will incur higher prices to the consumer. I have friends who live on the island and over the years their commercial fishing has transitioned into cruise ship tours. Cruise ships are no longer coming into town, so I suspect they will revert to fishing to try to make ends meet. On a very personal level, I sport fish there and the bright spot in all of this crazyness is it will probably cause a lot less stress on a limited spawning fish return and will increase the chance in years to come for more fish in the streams and an overall healthier population for future generations.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-18-2020, 09:44 PM Thread Starter
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On a very personal level, I sport fish there and the bright spot in all of this crazyness is it will probably cause a lot less stress on a limited spawning fish return and will increase the chance in years to come for more fish in the streams and an overall healthier population for future generations.
That's why I am asking.. looking for something positive in all this mess..
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-18-2020, 10:12 PM
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That's why I am asking.. looking for something positive in all this mess..
Plenty to be frustrated about for sure! On the other hand, a good time to take stock of what have to be thankful for too. It’s much easier to see what we’re missing, than to appreciate what we still have.

Not trying to minimize the problems, but I’ve found if I don’t regularly remind myself that I’m still comparatively fortunate at the moment, my sanity sinks faster than T-24 in a trout creek.

JB
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-19-2020, 08:16 PM
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Washington State gave commercials 'essential service' status... and the gillnets went back into the Columbia River to intercept what few spring chinook would've made it home this year. They're catching fish that there is little market for as long as restaurants are closed. Fish value is low, expenses are still high... and they are not selective in what they catch. If Washington was smart they'd incentivize retraining into land based aquaculture (RAS). Recovery will never be accomplished as long as there is a price on a salmon's head.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 02:37 PM
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Twists,

In Washington state, commercial fishing has been deemed essential (like farming and agriculture to put food on our tables) as pointed out by Kalamaman. Salmon will not intentionally be given any break. If fewer WA salmon are harvested in AK or BC due to less recreational fishing, or fewer are harvested in WA due to less recreational fishing, the commercial fleet and treaty tribal fleet stands ready to mop up any surplus. Salmon seasons here are designed to make sure that not one salmon more than the designated spawning escapement goal makes it to the gravel or hatchery, as the case may be. And in many cases, fewer salmon than the established escapement goal will make it to the gravel by design in order to not miss any harvestable surplus from healthier salmon stocks. This is the policy, and in some cases, the law in WA.

Steelhead, on the other hand, get more of a break because they are not commercially harvested except by treaty tribes. Recreational fishing for steelhead in most cases for WA stocks does not have enough impact on populations to have a measurable effect on the abundance of subsequent generations. Occasionally there may be exceptions, but that is the general rule. The main thing limiting wild steelhead populations in recent years is marine survival rates, which in some cases is less than one recruit per spawner. This is the factor causing lower adult returns. Covid-19 and commercial fishing do not play an influential role for steelhead, with certain possible exceptions for treaty tribal fishing on specific river systems.

Sg
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