August 16, 2015 11:03 pm
Updated: August 16, 2015 11:07 pm

Salmon fishing shut down on the Fraser River in the Lower Mainland


WATCH: Last month, the province announced a number of fishing restrictions on South Coast rivers due to the hot and dry summer. This weekend, that ban was increased to include some of the most popular spots in Metro Vancouver. John Hua has the details.

A week ago, “The Peg” in Chilliwack was lined with more than 60 fishermen casting a line for sockeye salmon. Now, one of the hottest fishing spots in the province is completely deserted.

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“Normally this time of year you’d be fighting guys just to get a spot,” says Sean Peters, a local who fishes the area.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans shut down all salmon fishing in the Fraser River from the mouth to the railway bridge in Mission. Concerns over the number of sockeye salmon prompted the restrictions on commercial, First Nations and recreational activity.

The summer runs are coming in with 3.5 million fewer fish than forecasted numbers. Lower river levels and warmer water temperatures expected to lead to a much higher mortality rate at salmon spawning grounds.

READ MORE: Fishing closures in the Kootenays due to dry conditions

Salmon fishing is a huge source of economic revenue in the region. Chilliwack Dart & Tackle says sales took a 60 per cent hit when the fishing closures took effect.

“They’re not coming in to buy the gear, they’re not coming in to stay in the motels and hotels, they’re not buying boat gas because they’re just not going out.” says employee Nick Basok.

Despite the toll its taking on local business, fishermen like Basok understand the need to take conservation measures.

“Not fishing for two or three weeks might save a lot of fish for three of five years down the road, which is the major concern. And that’s why people are buying into it,” he says.

Basok says many who fish along the Fraser River are trying to stay positive, hoping fishing will reopen when pink and chum salmon make their run in a couple of weeks.

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