Streams and rivers throughout southern Vancouver Island are now off limits to anglers.
The provincial government has announced a Level 4 drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, taking the additional action of suspending angling in streams and rivers throughout southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands due to ongoing low stream flows and warming water temperatures.
At Level 4, conditions are extremely dry. Further declines in stream, lake and aquifer levels could lead to water shortages and affect people, industry such as agriculture, wildlife, and fish stocks. All water users are urged to maximize their water conservation efforts.
“As we experience warmer and drier weather, it is important that we are able to react quickly to protect vulnerable fish stocks. That is what we’ve done today, and what we will continue to do in future, as conditions warrant,” said Steve Thomson, minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations.
Virtually all angling in streams and rivers in Wildlife Management Units 1-1 through 1-6 is suspended. The closure has been put in place to protect fish stocks at a time when they are vulnerable due to low flows and high water temperatures.
The geographic area covers Bamfield south to Victoria on the west coast, and Campbell River south to Victoria on the east coast. Key rivers affected by the order include the Caycuse, Chemainus, Cowichan, Englishman, Gordon, Little Qualicum, Nanaimo, Nitinat, Oyster, Puntledge, San Juan, Sooke, Trent and Tsable.
The Qualicum (known as “Big Qualicum”) and Quinsam rivers are the only rivers or streams in the affected area exempt from the closure. On these two streams fishing can continue as normal. These streams have sufficient water refuges to adequately protect fish, even with normal angling pressure.
The angling closure order is for southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands only at this time, but B.C. government fisheries biologists are monitoring approximately 75 other key angling streams across the province, and if conditions warrant, additional closures are possible.
Lake fishing is not affected by the order. Angling closures are enabled through the British Columbia Sport Fishing Regulations of the federal Fisheries Act.