Okanagan Salmon Community Initiative
– Angler Application –
All application must be submitted by
6:00pm, July 21st, 2014
This program will run during the same time as the recreation salmon opening on Osoyoos Lake. We are tentatively looking at August 1st start date with a 4 week fisheries opening. Refer to DFO non-Tidal Salmon Regulations for actual dates once they are posted.
This program has been fully approved by government including federal, provincial and local. Department of Fisheries & Oceans has approved and been assisting in developing this pilot project. By submitting an application an angler will be added into the applicant pool and will be contacted once the program deadline has been closed. The applicants information will be passed onto the various program directors. For more information about the application process please email your inquiry to Howie Wright at: HWright@syilx.org
For more detailed information on this initiative please check out this program information presentation and the Okanagan Salmon Community Initiative Facebook Page. You can also read the OSCI Outdoor Edge Article by Judie Steeves. Okanagan Nation Alliance Press Release: ONA Press Release Landmark Salmon Return 2014
Required Qualification of Applicants
- Must be knowledgeable of the Osoyoos fishery and have previous Sockeye angling experience. A minimum of 3 years of experience in trolling and angling.
- The applicant must be able to commit a minimum of 3 days of angling from 6am to 1pm within the outlined available angling days.
- The applicant must be willing to communicate all angling efforts, success and knowledge with ONA and fellow project volunteers. The applicant must be able to record data as required.
- Must have a pleasure craft operator’s license and freshwater fishing license with Non-tidal salmon tag.
- Vessel crew must consist of a minimum of 1 person not including the skipper. A list of the crew must be provided to the catch monitor each morning at the time of registration. All crew members will be assigned a catch card each morning at the time of registration by the catch monitor.
- All crew must have freshwater fishing license and non-tidal salmon tag. All persons driving the boat must posses a Pleasure Craft Operators License.
- The applicant must have the ability to provide at their own cost all the required angling gear and fuel for vessel. Log books, flags, designation card, totes, ice and salt slurry will be supplied to each vessel.
- The applicant will be required to review and acknowledge the terms of the review orientation package prior to fishing via email.
Vessel & Gear Requirements:
- Applicant requires a fishing vessel between 12 to 24 feet equipped with a minimum of 2 downriggers and sonar. Trolling motors used during fishing have to be a MAX of 9.9hp or an electric motor. Gas trolling motors over 9.9hp will not be accepted.
- Vessel must conform to Transport Canada license & safety regulations and be in excellent overall condition. This includes all on board safety equipment as outlined by Transport Canada. Vessel and motor must be well maintained.
- All angling gear and equipment on board the vessel must be in good working order.
- The vessel must have on board a cell phone with the number that was provided at the time of application.
Once you have submitted your application and accepted as a fisher; an OSCI representative will be in contact within 1 weeks prior to program start date to provide a full orientation on the program. Including meeting places, launching areas, daily logistics, and fishing schedule. (Remember, this is a volunteer effort so the fishing schedule will work around what works best for the angler)
To assist you in the finding some of the following information please refer to your boat’s capacity information plate.
Okanagan Salmon Community Initiative – Organizations that participate on the Steering Committee
Okanagan Desert Salmon Recognized Internationally
by Judie Steeves
It’s not just about food as nourishment, or about fishing for recreation; it’s about the whole experience.
And that’s partly why Okanagan Sockeye Salmon have been accepted by Slow Food Canada as an Ark of Taste food—one of only three seafoods accepted by this country and approved internationally.
The Ark of Taste collects small-scale, quality products that belong to the culture, history and traditions of peoples around the planet. Not only is flavour a criteria, but also distinctive quality, links to local traditions, limited quantities and a risk of extinction.
The product was also nominated by Slow Food Canada as an ambassador of Indigenous Products for Canada to attend the prestigious Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Italy, along with unique foods from 130 other countries to be presented to more than 400,000 foodies this October.
This acceptance is an achievement that Okanagan Nation Alliance fisheries biologist Richard Bussanich is proud of after years of effort to restore the historic run of salmon up the Columbia River system into Osoyoos Lake in the Okanagan Basin.
The Okanagan salmon were threatened due to loss of habitat; barriers to their return up the Columbia River from impassable dams; over-harvest; and climate change, until the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA), along with governments and corporations on both sides of the international border, embarked on a joint effort in 2003 to re-establish the historic runs.
Another reason this unique fish was selected is that the catch is from a small artisanal fishery that is based on annually-appropriate harvests, depending on the number of fish returning to the Okanagan from a 1,200-kilometre, three-year migration into the ocean and back up the danger-fraught Columbia River system.
As a result of the rigours of the journey and the inhospitable climate of the Okanagan, this sockeye salmon has evolved into a virtual ‘protein bar,’ with smaller size than other sockeye, but more-dense protein and calories, explains Bussanich.
“Other stocks couldn’t survive in this system,” he says, due to the higher water temperatures and lower oxygen levels they experience here.
“They evolved for the environment they live in. They’re unlike any other fish,” he notes. “It confounds what you would expect after travelling 1,200 kilometres upstream, but when they were tested at UBC it was found that they contained a higher caloric count than any other salmon stock. They’re a very unique fish.”
Fishing them is conducted in line with First Nations food and social needs but provides economic opportunities for the whole community due to the manner in which the salmon is allocated and managed.
“This is a responsible, respectful and relevant fishery,” notes Bussanich. “We’re not out to gorge ourselves. Instead less is more. It’s a gift, so even a forkful is participating,” he explains.
This year, a new addition to the combination of First Nations food fishery and recreational fishery is a pilot project to permit anglers to join the commercial fishery on Osoyoos Lake. It’s an opportunity to experience it while contributing to the cost of monitoring stocks, research and development and continued habitat restoration so the runs continue to be sustainable.
Recreational anglers will be allowed to register for a permit to fish as part of the commercial fleet on Osoyoos Lake, but in their own boats and using their own gear, in return for a small share in the catch. (Fish survival from releases when they are stressed by high summer temperatures, is often low.)
The funds recovered from sale of the salmon caught commercially will be used locally to continue monitoring the runs and restoring fish habitat.
Habitat is the limiting factor that makes this fishery viable.
It’s forecast that 220,000 sockeye will return this year to the Wells Dam, just south of the international border on the Okanagan River, yet 67,000 is the optimal number of spawners to ensure good egg-to-fry survival on the existing spawning grounds in Canada, explains Bussanich.
This will be one of the top three runs of Okanagan sockeye to return since 1938. Sockeye salmon live a four-year cycle, returning to where they were born to lay eggs before dying.
The goal is to take 10,000 fish, which would allow the fishery to break even and the goal is to use as much as possible fresh, in the Okanagan, where the economic returns stay in the valley, explains Bussanich.
“It’s lake to plate in 24 hours,” he adds.
However, any surplus product is smoked, canned or made into Indian candy, under the Okanagan Select brand.
Whether you’re a historian, an angler or a food lover, the opportunity to experience this pilot project is intriguing.