VANCOUVER - The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it has launched a formal investigation after a video showing allegedly harmful salmon release practices was posted online last week.
North Coast area director Mel Kotyk says the department found the video's images disturbing, and investigators will be speaking with companies and vessels to determine if fines or court action is necessary.
Under federal regulations, fishermen are required to quickly sort through their catch and release any fish they weren't targeting with the least possible harm.
However, the video filmed by environmental groups in a pink salmon fishery just south of Kitimat appears to show other species of salmon laying unsorted on boat decks for upwards of six minutes before being tossed or kicked off the side.
Aaron Hill of the group Watershed Watch says fishing boats targeting pink salmon in B.C.’s northern fisheries may be killing up to 165,000 salmon of other species through improper release practices.
Hill says he thinks the investigation may result in a few fishermen being charged as opposed to changing fishery practices, but Kotyk says issues will be addressed on an individual and industry-wide basis.