Barkley Fisheries OVERVIEW
Although fisheries play a smaller role in the region's economy than in the past, there are still fishery and supporting activities important to the local economy. Ucluelet and Port Alberni are among those that continue to gain at least some component of their local economy through the wild fishery.

In 2003, sockeye returns to Barkley Sound were consistent with forecast levels, resulting in good fishing opportunities. Fisheries for Barkley Sound sockeye recorded a total harvest of 400,000 sockeye. There was a modest commercial chinook fishery in Barkley Sound for enhanced stocks, and chinook bycatch in troll and gillnet fisheries directed at other stocks. There were good fisheries for pink salmon throughout the south coast. Chum returns to the region met or fell below forecast levels.

Ucluelet has been significantly impacted by the decline in the fish-processing sector. Three processing plants (Ucluelet Seafood Processing, Canadian Seafood Processing and Robert Wholey Ltd) that ten years ago ran 24-hour shifts during peak summer and fall fishing seasons, are now underutilized or shut down entirely. Most of the fish caught in West Coast waters are now processed in Vancouver instead of in one of the region's plants. As a consequence, much of the local processing workforce has relocated or moved into other economic activities.

Pilot Sales Projects are an important element of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy. Through agreements made between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and aboriginal groups, aboriginal communities are authorized to sell specified amounts of fish subject to conservation needs and to agreed monitoring, enforcement and management regimes. The Somass River Fishery in Port Alberni holds one of three provincial licenses for pilot sales.

More recently, the emphasis of the industry has been on diversification, placing an increased emphasis on species other than salmon. It is now recognized that the value of each fishery needs to be maximized through onshore processing, niche market development and value-added product development.

The Vancouver Island Summary Land Use Plan identified the following fishery use and potential in the Barkley region:

Alberni Inlet:
  • major migratory route for anadromous fish returns to the Somass and Nahmint rivers
  • important prawn fishing area and important shrimp area from holding area from Pochantas Point to Chup Point
Barkley Sound:
  • significant herring spawn area along the northwest shore of Barkley Sound
  • important crab area in Macoah Passage
  • important geoduck area on the Maggies River shore and off Mills Peninsula
  • important groundfish area in Loudoun and Imperial Eagle Channel
  • important shrimp area in Imperial Eagle Channel
  • important squid areas in Ucluelet Harbour
  • important urchin area around Chrow Island to George Fraser Island
  • Barkley Sound Planning Strategy has identified herring spawn along the north shore of London Channel; oysters are found in Pipestream Inlet
Barkley Sound Outer Coast
  • major returning salmon holding area
  • important groundfish area on Big Bank, Cape Beale and Lighthouse Bank
  • important shrimp trawl area
  • important abalone area off Uculth Peninsula
  • important urchin area off Chrow Island and George Fraser Island