Can I go fishing in Howe Sound?
I’m a recreational fisher living in the Sea to Sky corridor, and I’d like to spend some time fishing in Howe Sound this year. What do I need to know?
The first thing is to make sure you have a fishing licence. In BC, fishing in the ocean is the responsibility of the federal government, so you’ll need a tidal waters fishing licence from Fisheries & Oceans Canada. You can buy a 1-day, 3-day, 5-day, or annual licence. You’ll need a licence to harvest both finfish and shellfish.
If you want to fish salmon, you’ll also need to buy a salmon conservation stamp and attach it to your licence. The stamp is valid for one year, from April 1 to March 31.
You must have a copy of the licence on you while you’re fishing, either in paper or electronic form. Note that the BC Sport Fishing Regulations require that you immediately record your catch of certain species (like chinook salmon and lingcod) in ink on the fishing licence, and failing to do that is a violation. So a printed licence is necessary if you’re planning to catch those species.
You’ll also need to be aware of any restrictions on where you can fish. Some areas are closed to fishing, either permanently or on a rotating basis. Often this is for conservation purposes. You can find up-to-date information on fishing closures on the BC Sport Fishing Guide website.
There are also some no-fishing zones in Howe Sound. The federal government has designated a number of marine refuges to protect an ancient and valuable coral species known as glass sponge reefs. These reefs, which were thought to be extinct for 65 million years before they were found off the coast of BC in 1987, provide important water filtration and underwater habitat. They grow very slowly and can be destroyed by anchors, trawling, and traps, so the federal no-fishing zones set up a 150m buffer around the reefs.