Barkley Sound - First Nations
Gill-net fishermen from local First Nations use curtains of netting suspended by a system of floats and weights to catch salmon. The fine netting is almost invisible so salmon unwittingly swim into the mesh. As they try to back out, their gill covers get snagged and the fish becomes entangled in the net.
Gill-netting is an effective and selective method of harvesting salmon. Vessels average less than 40 feet (12 metres) in length and have a small crew who are often family members. Gill-netters set their nets in rivers, estuaries or coastal inlets attempting to catch the salmon as they school and swim back to their natal rivers.
Fishermen set their rectangular nets from either the stern or bow of their vessels. Altering the mesh size, the way in which nets are suspended in the water and the amount of time they soak allows fishermen to selectively target certain species or sizes. Because of their effectiveness at catching salmon, gill-net fishery openings tend to be relatively short, allowing fishermen only hours or a few days to net their catch.
Gill-netting has a low impact on marine. A number of controls address conservation in the salmon gillnet fishery. These include:
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages this fishery in partnership with local First Nations as part of an integrated fisheries management strategy for all salmon in southern B.C. Download the most recent plan (PDF).
Salmon stocks are assessed by scientists in the Department and Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). For the most recent stock status, visit DFO Science.
Gill-net-caught salmon are known for their quality and freshness. Gill-net fisheries tend to take place near fishing ports where catch can quickly be delivered and processed at local fish plants. When fishing is slow, gill-netters often gut and clean their salmon aboard their vessels, and store them on ice. When catches are large, gillnetters often sell their salmon “in the round,” that is, without being gutted or cleaned. They are sold to packing vessels that quickly deliver the catch to fish plants where the fish is cleaned, washed, processed and, in some cases, frozen. The quick processing ensures that gill-net-caught salmon maintain their quality and freshness.