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'Rough treatment' of salmon in Port Moody poaching incident

'You take one or two' spawning salmon and 'we might get nothing back,' says longtime Noons Creek volunteer after a local resident reported a poaching incident.
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Dave Bennie kneels in the dried-out bed of Noon's Creek earlier this fall. Rain has since returned.

B.C. salmon are fighting to spawn in creeks across Metro Vancouver as dry weather and pollution combine to take their toll.

But in one Port Moody creek, it was someone attempting to catch a salmon that upset a local resident.

Mayumi Seki was walking near Noons Creek Hatchery near the Port Moody Recreation Centre last Tuesday (Nov. 15) when she spotted two adult males who appeared to be in the act of catching a salmon.

Seki cautioned the men against stealing the fish, at which point one man released the fish "roughly" into the creek.

"He swore at me and left the area, but continued looking for salmon in the creek on their way toward the Shoreline Trail," said Seki in a statement to the Tri-City News.

It is illegal to fish in Noons Creek and Seki would like more signage warning people against taking salmon illegally.

Creeks have dried up this fall in Port Moody

The concern about spawning fish comes as many creeks experienced a dry fall.

Although Noons Creek had a good run of spawning coho and chum salmon, killing or taking fish hurts their chances.

"Some urban steams, we don’t get that much fish back and you take one or two and we might get nothing back," said Dave Bennie, a long-time volunteer with Noons Creek Hatchery.

Lack of rain may kill salmon eggs

This year, salmon survival is a particular concern because while fish may have been able to spawn, their "redds" or nests may have dried up due to last week's dry weather.

Bennie said it's rare that someone poaches fish from Noons Creek and he noted that the creek saw a return of 100 coho and 60 chum salmon so far this year.

A few days ago, a bear and two cubs were spotted grabbing fish out of the creek, which Bennie said was a rare occurrence.

Still, it's important to know the rules, said Seki, who added she reported her concerns to the City of Port Moody.

Don't confront salmon poachers

The City of Port Moody discourages people from confronting poachers and instead recommends they report the violation to the proper authorities.

"Members of the public should avoid confronting people who appear to be illegally poaching salmon. If it’s safe to do so, take photos, videos, or write down a license plate number, and then contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the BC Ministry of Environment," a spokesperson stated in an email.

Although poaching incidents are rare, residents with concerns about poaching and who are uncertain about what to do can contact City of Port Moody’s Environment team by emailing environment@portmoody.ca or calling 604-469-4574

Salmon are under the jurisdiction of the federal government, and violations of the Fisheries Act are handled by Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO).

Additionally, it is also possible that violations may have occurred at the provincial level under the BC Wildlife Act, which are handled by the BC Ministry of Environment.

Who to call for a poaching violation

The penalties under the Fisheries Act or Wildlife Act will depend on the nature of the violation, but can range from $500 to over $10,000 per offense.

If you see someone poaching salmon from a creek, here's who to contact:

Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO) "Observe Record Report" (ORR)

BC Ministry of Environment

  • Phone: "Report All Poachers and Polluters" (RAPP) hotline 1-877-952-RAPP (7277)

 

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