In 2015, DFO undertook a stock assessment of the outside yelloweye rockfish population. This stock assessment placed yelloweye in a critical zone of depletion where natural increases through spawning are less than fishing induced mortality. The stock will continue to decline unless changes are made.
As a result, DFO has mandated that all commercial and recreational fisheries impacts must be reduced to 100mt by the end of 2018. The burden of these recovery measures are equally shared by recreational and commercial fisheries in terms of the proportional decrease in our allowed mortalities. For recreational fisheries this means a reduction from a 55 to 65 mt average to 12 – 15 mt average total mortalities. Based on a 7lb average, this means a reduction from approximately 17,000 fish to 4,000 fish.
Most yelloweye are caught indicentally while fishing for other species such as ling and halibut. In order to achieve the goals set out by DFO, management measures beyond just altering yelloweye bag limits will be required. Given a very limited set of alternatives, a reduction in ling cod daily and possession limits on the WCVI from 3 & 6 to 2 & 4 as well as shortening the season by closing the fishery during the spawning period was considered a reasonable step in reducing yelloweye mortality while maintaining access to other groundfish species.
The SFI and WCFGA believe that avoidance of Yelloweye and the use of descending devices to reverse the effects of barotrauma will be the most effective and durable solution to this problem, but will take time to implement.
To help speed up this implementation process, the SFI and WCFGA are providing free descending devices to all guides and anglers who choose to participate, and urge all anglers to avoid areas where concentrations of yelloweye are either experienced or known to exist.
Working together we can share the responsibility for the recovery of these ancient and beautiful fish. We thank you for your support.
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