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Commercial salmon gear types

Commercial salmon licences are issued for three gear types: seine, gill net and troll.

Seine nets are set from fishing boats with the assistance of a small skiff. Nets are set in a circle around aggregations of fish. The bottom edges of the net are then drawn together into a "purse" to prevent escape of the fish. Seiners take approximately 50% of the commercial catch.

Photo: seiner
Drawing of a seine nets
Seine nets

Salmon gill nets are rectangular nets that hang in the water and are set from either the stern or bow of the vessel. Fish swim headfirst into the net, entangling their gills in the mesh. Altering mesh size and the way in which nets are suspended in the water allows nets to target certain species and sizes of fish. Gill netters generally fish near coastal rivers and inlets, taking about 25% of the commercial catch.

Photo: gill net vessel
Gill net vessel
Drawing of a gill net
Gill net

Trollers employ hooks and lines which are suspended from large poles extending from the fishing vessel. Altering the type and arrangement of lures used on lines allows various species to be targeted. Trollers catch approximately 25% of the commercial harvest.

Photo: troller
Drawing of a troller

The commercial troll fishery open area varies from year to year depending on the species available. For instance, if southern bound chinook salmon are the target species, then the west coast of Haida Gwaii is a location where northern trollers can harvest these chinook. On the north coast, the first commercial gill net fishery occurs May 31 in Area 8. Commercial net openings then occur on a weekly basis until mid October. The first commercial seine fishery generally occurs in mid-July, with the exact date depending on returning stock strength. The troll fishery generally occurs July 1, and remains open until a set number of fish are caught.

Licence conditions and commercial fishing plans lay out allowable gear characteristics such as hook styles, mesh size, net dimensions and the methods by which gear may be used (e.g. set times for nets, mandatory brailing and sorting of fish). On the North Coast, the commercial net fishery is open in defined terminal areas of various systems, notably the Skeena/Nass systems and the Bella Coola/Atnarko. Openings could occur anywhere inside the surfline depending on local stock strengths.

Please see our glossary of salmon terms for more information.

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