North Coast / Haida Gwaii — SALMON AREA C
Fish harvesters 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.
Fish harvesters 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 fish harvesters to selectively target certain species or sizes. Because of their effectiveness at catching salmon, gill-net fishery openings tend to be relatively short, allowing fish harvesters 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:
Marine Stewardship Council - Certified
Ocean Wise - Recommended
Seafood Watch - Good Alternative
SeaChoice - Some Concerns
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages this fishery 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.
The North Coast and Haida Gwaii, known as “Area F” by fisheries managers, is a fecund region of rainforests fjords, archipelagos, crystal clear lakes and salmon-bearing rivers that flow into some of the richest marine zones on the planet. The region consists of the archipelago of Haida Gwaii and Inside Passage which is 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 several aboriginal tribes including the Haida, Tsimshian, Nisga’a, Hailsa, Oweekeno, Kitasoo, Nuxulk and Heiltsuk. These tiny ports support the troll fishery with a variety of services and are the landing locations for catch.