Editor, The Times:
In my last missive on the steelhead crisis, I made a statement I’ve had to rethink.
I said that comparing the cod fishery disaster on the East Coast to the current steelhead crisis was comparing apples to bananas.
It is said that the steel ships destroyed the Atlantic cod. As long as the cod were fished with wooden ships and ‘iron men’ using dories and or hook and line, the cod were pretty safe from annihilation.
It is the Germans, so they say, that perfected a three-vessel dragging system — two breaking the ice and the third dragging a net through the water scooping up the cod.
Unfortunately, the cod that were being scooped up in record numbers were on the spawning grounds. And everyone knows what happens when one beats on the spawning grounds. There were record catches for a few years then zilch, nada! As everyone knows.
Since my letter came out I’ve heard from a couple of sports fishermen who said they agreed with me. In fact, they gave me some information I had never heard of. Apparently, there are several main steelhead spawning areas, one of them being the Bonapart system.
However, I’ve been told there’s been a big trout fishery right at the time the steelhead were in Bonapart and there are those who call a steelhead an oversized trout. Even if this trout fishery was catch and release about 30 per cent of these fish will die, not as I’ve pointed out the five per cent as claimed by Fisheries and Oceans.
So as you can see there is a connection between East Coast cod and West Coast steelhead — fishing on the spawning grounds. And when one thinks about it, apples and bananas are both labeled fruit.
It’s been 10 years since I set a net. I would like to put it all in the past. However, nonsense about some 30-hour fall gillnetting destroying the steelhead revives a bitter memory — a memory of a horribly managed “Alice through the looking glass” sockeye fishery on the Skeena, especially in the last 10 – 15 years.
I’d like to forget, but I can’t.