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'They're closing it for one reason and that's to enhance the population later'

Anglers planning to catch salmon in local waters this weekend are happily leaving their fishing poles at home after the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced a fishing ban on all salmon species until further notice.

"Good," said Mo Bradley of the Kamloops and District Fish and Game Association on hearing the news. "The DFO says 'There's no more salmon fishery.' I say OK. They're closing it for one reason and that's to enhance the population later."

On Wednesday, the DFO announced that recreation fishing for salmon is prohibited until further notice in Kamloops Lake and the Thompson River from the outlet with Kamloops Lake downstream to the confluence with the Fraser River.

Even businesses that rely on the sport are being understanding and even welcoming the news.

"If they open it when they don't have the numbers, it only affects things in the long run and makes it worse for other years," said Johnny Garland, manager of Surplus Herby's. "Everybody's fairly on the same page with that."

The ban is also directed towards First Nations, however there are still some areas in the upper Thompson Shuswap drainage where fisheries are ongoing for food, social and ceremonial reasons, said Les Jantz, DFOarea director for the B.C. Interior.

The need for the ban is that current summer sockeye salmon run size estimates combined with record water temperatures means that the spawn return, which may be down by two-thirds, can't handle any more impact.

"We have some significant conservation concerns," said Jantz.

He said not all fish in the Thompson River are summer run sockeye, but there are enough numbers to justify the complete ban.

"The actions that are being taken are trying to maximize the number of fish that we can get to the spawning ground."

Plans by the Secwepemc Fisheries Commission to hold another demonstration commercial fishery program on Chinook salmon in Kamloops Lake are on hold until conditions have improved or sockeye have gone through the area, said Jantz.

The commission has been exploring re-establishing commercial fisheries in upstream locations such as Kamloops Lake and the Thompson River.

They've conducted several years of feasibility studies as part of a federal government initiative to improve the viability of B.C. salmon fisheries.

? Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News