Enforcement officers are stepping up their efforts to put a stop to midnight poaching of sockeye salmon on the Fraser River.
Since a full ban on fishing the sockeye salmon run went into effect last Thursday, fisheries officers have seized over 50 gillnets and nine vessels, and launched 27 investigations.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans banned commercial and sport fishing for everyone, including First Nations, last week when it became clear this summer's sockeye run would be just two million, nearly half the 3.7 million expected by the Pacific Salmon Commission.
That means "every one of these fish we now need to get to the spawning grounds, so all the fisheries in the Fraser River were shut down," said DFO's Herb Redekopp, chief of conservation and protection in the Lower Fraser area.
Higher-than-normal reports from the public and sightings by air and land patrols led to the deployment of more resources to the area to enforce the ban. Officials are concerned about blackmarket sales.
Redekopp was out Thursday night around midnight near Agassiz when he and his crew saw a blacked-out boat with two fishermen using gillnets. In the 10 minutes it took to catch up to the boat using night-vision equipment and a floodlight, 47 fish had been killed, Redekopp said.
Most poachers have been caught between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., using skiffs with small outboard motors, he said.
"The most problematic areas this past week have been the Fraser Canyon, the Chilliwack area, Agassiz, Maple Ridge and Surrey. It's fairly broad," he said. More....