FISHERY PROFILE

T'aaq-wiihak Aboriginal Fishery by Troll

West Coast of Vancouver Island — T'aaq-wiihak Fishing Area

PRIMARY SPECIES:

Atlantic Lobster

FISHERY OPENINGS:

APRIL 23-JULY 5

Aboriginal Hook & Line Troll

Aboriginal fish harvesters from local Nuu-chah-nulth tribes use hooks and lines, trailed behind their vessels at low speed, to catch Chinook salmon and halibut, which are called"suuhaa" and "puu?i" respectively in the local Indigenous language. The hooks are attached to lures that imitate the fish's food, such as herring and squid. Salmon and halibut are individually hooked and the lines are pulled in with the help of a winch. However, fish harvesters must haul in each fish by hand for the last 20 to 60 feet (6 to 18 metres)—a struggle in which the skill and agility of the harvester is paramount. 

Harvesting Method

Aboriginal Hook & Line Troll

Trolling is a slow and selective method of harvesting salmon. Vessels have a small crew who are often family members. Some skippers even fish alone. The most distinct feature of a salmon troller is its long poles secured to its mast by a crosstree. When fishing, the poles are spread apart forming a v-shape. The poles and four floats prevent the many fishing lines and lures from tangling while trolling at about three knots (5.6 km/h). Smaller dories might only use two lines with hand winches.

Aboriginal Hook & Line Troll
Fish are the gill-bearing aquatic craniate animals

This Aboriginal fishery provides socio-economic benefits to local Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations communities. Vessels range in size from small dories with outboard motors to 45-foot wooden, fibreglass and steel vessels. Fish harvesters targeti King Chinook salmon, but can also keep Keta Chum and Pink salmon if incidentally caught. Harvesters are also permitted to keep a small amount of Pacific halibut for sale.

Conservation Measures

Trolling has a low impact on marine habitats and a low rate of bycatch (unwanted fish). A number of controls ensure conservation in the salmon and halibut troll fishery. These include: 

  • strict catch limits for each opening;
  • requirement for vessels to show an Identification Number and fly an Identification Flag specific to this fishery;
  • seasonal and area closures for conservation purposes;
  • the use of barbless hooks and selective "plug" lures; 
  • requirement for landing slip and sales slip documenting all catch; and 
  • requirement to land catch at these designated ports: Zeballos, Ahousaht, Tofino and aboard the packer Pearl E

In this lobster fishing area, fish harvesters actively participate in scientific data collection and research such as:

  • a comprehensive data collection system on catches
  • scientific sampling of lobsters at sea
  • maintaining catch logbooks and scientific field notebooks
FISHERY DETAILS

West Coast of Vancouver Island

MAP
ECO-RATINGS / CERTIFICATIONS

Seafood Watch - Good Alternative

SeaChoice - Some Concerns

Ocean Wise - Recommended

FISHERY OPENINGS

Aug 01 - Aug 31

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages this fishery in partnership with First Nations as part of an integrated fisheries management strategy for all salmon in southern B.C. Download the most recent plan (PDF).

FISH STOCK STATUS

Salmon and halibut stocks are assessed by scientists in the Department and Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the International Pacific Halibut Commission. For the most recent stock status, visit DFO Science.

Quality and Handling

Troll-caught salmon and halibut are known for their high quality and freshness. The slow-paced and selective nature of trolling means that each fish is individually hauled aboard by hand, cleaned, washed and iced. Troll-caught fish also tend to have little or no scarring. For this reason, quality—rather than quantity—is the hallmark of troll-caught wild salmon and halibut.

Harvesting Area

The West Coast of Vancouver Island, known as “Area G” by fisheries managers, is a fecund region of rainforests fjords, snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes and salmon-bearing rivers that flow into some of the richest marine zones on the planet. The region consists of five majestic sounds—Barkley, Clayoquot, Nootka, Kyuquot and Quatsino—that are dotted with thousands of islands, winding inlets and soaring mountains. The region is sparsely populated with towns, villages and Indian reserves, and is home to Nuu-chah-nulth aboriginal tribes. These tiny ports support the troll fishery with a variety of services and are the landing locations for catch. 

Food Info King Chinook


TASTING NOTES

  • Colour: deep red to pale pink or even “ivory” or “winter” white
    Texture: large, soft-textured flakes with a velvety feel
  • Flavour: succulent and full-flavored with high fish oil content that’s almost buttery
  • Perfect serve: Grilled on a soaked cedar plank and seasoned with nothing more than coarse sea salt, ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon to offset the buttery richness.
HOW TO CHOOSE A QUALITY KING CHINOOK