Illegal Fishing in the Rockfish Conservation Area at Race Rocks

A Guidelines page outlines the acceptable activities in the reserve.
Both Commercial and Recreational Fishing are not allowed in the reserve.
We are obliged as managers of the area and ecological reserve warden, to report all examples of disturbances to BC Parks, and to Federal Fisheries and Oceans.People must realize that animals disturbed by their presence use up valuable energy when food resources may not plentiful. The environment they live in is such that any energy is needed for body temperature regulation. They often exist on a very slim energy margin .
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There is also now a Rockfish Conservation Area in the zone around Race Rocks and Rosedale Reef within the 40 metre depth contour that prohibits all fishing. See the this reference on the DFO website

Notice to Boaters and Anglers in the vicinity of Race Rocks —— DFO 2009
Fisheries and Oceans Canada requests that boaters and anglers take the following steps to protect the abundant and diverse marine life at the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve:Race Rocks is a haul out location for a variety of marine mammals (seals and sea lions), some of which will give birth and raise their young there. To avoid injury to marine mammals in the water and disturbing them on the rocks the following guidelines are requested to be followed:

  • Slow to 7 knots or less within 400 metres of the rocks surrounding Great Race Rock, West Race Rock, North Race Rock and Rosedale Rock.
  • Do not approach closer than 100 metres to any marine mammal, including those on the rocks.

Not following these guidelines, or the Be Whale Wise Marine Guidelines for Boaters, Paddlers and Viewers (Revised 2006), may constitute a violation of the Marine Mammal Regulations. Violators face potential fines of up to $100,000.

  • Recreational Fishermen are reminded that there is a “Rockfish Conservation Area that surrounds Great Race Rock and Rosedale Rock within a 40 metre depth contour as shown on chart 3461. No angling for any species of finfish is permitted in this area.
  • Harvesting of shellfish is prohibited within 0.5 nm of Great Race Rocks.

Your cooperation with these guidelines and regulations will help maintain the biodiversity of the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.
Updated fishing regulations including maps of Rockfish Conservation Areas are available online at
The Be Whale Wise boater education program is available online at  These fishers were fishing rockfish out of the reserve, they claimed ignorance to English while the video camera was on them, but they understood well enough that they left until the current brought them right back into the reserve..

There has been a sports fishing closure for bottom fish in the Marine Protected Area since 1990, however we still get people claiming ignorance of the fact

illegal fishingillegal fishing

..and the “Yahoo of the week” award goes to….

August 25, 2009
illegal fishing illegal fishing illegal fishing illegal fishing

Ecoguardians report: “At 1300hrs today (25 August 2009), a pleasure craft with three persons on board entered Race Rocks Ecological Reserve and began to fish north of Great Race Rock in the channel between Middle Rock and North Rock .The vessel traveled south as it continued to fish. It halted approximately fifteen metres off the NE corner of Great Race Rock, then turned and followed the contour of the island towards the jetty, continuing to fish the whole way. At this point, the vessel was only fifteen to twenty metres off the jetty, so I walked down and told them that RR is closed to fishing. The male on board stated he didn’t have a chart, so didn’t know. Apologizing, he headed NE from jetty and made his way to North Rock, where he began to fish once again. The vessel is currently just off the north side of North Rock, still fishing. Licence no: 1K2257
Markings: White with blue trim running from the bow to stern. “Malibu 182″ marked on the port and starboard at the stern” AH. The incident was reported to DFO.

Hatta 3 illegal fishing   Hatta 3 illegal fishing

May 22, 2009:
The Hatta III (out of Vancouver) was pretty easy to notice fishing just off the kelp beds around North Race Rocks.  They didn’t answer radio hails so the station boat was launched to go talk to them. As it arrived a 3′ Cabezon was being hauled on board,  When asked about their depth, they guessed 30 fathoms. They were right on top of the kelp beds (as you can see in the photos), and Nereocystis luetkeana can only grow down to 17m depth. (They were less than 100m from N Race).  They said they didn’t know about the fishing restriction and left shortly after the conversation.

Native Fish Boat Royal Flush fishing Native Fish Boat Royal Flush fishing Native Fish Boat Royal Flush fishing Native Fish Boat Royal Flush fishing
June 3, 2009, 2100hrs
Fishing vessel “Royal Flush”
3 persons on board noticed to be fishing in very close proximity to the NW side of West Rock. Attempt was made to raise the vessel on both VHF 16 and VHF 68 with no luck. However, immediately after, the vessel took off at high speed out of the reserve heading NW towards the Beecher Bay area. It turns out that this was a native vessel fishing under a communal licence for food, social, and ceremonial purpose.  The BC Sport Fishing Regulations; Rock Fish Conservation closures; do not apply in this situation.  You can view the sport fishing regulations at:
Editors note: It is however disappointing that the spirit of conservation of the living resources of this area was not being followed by these individuals. According to research done in many No-Take zones throughout the world, the fish that are generated by a marine sanctuary have an incredibly valuable role in helping to repopulate the fisheries of adjacent areas.From the Rockfish Conservation Area page of the DFO website we can read the following about the declining populations of these species::“There are 37 species of rockfish that are caught in fisheries off the coast of British Columbia. Inshore rockfish species (which include yelloweye, quillback, copper, china, and tiger) are usually caught with hook and line gear in rocky reef habitats. Monitoring and research programs in B.C. indicate that inshore rockfish, especially within the inland waters of Vancouver Island, are at low levels of abundance. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) needs your help to protect and conserve inshore rockfish. Since 2002, catch restrictions, fishery monitoring, stock assessment programs, and Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) have been established throughout the B.C. coast. DFO’s rockfish conservation strategy is designed to alleviate further rockfish population declines. Within RCAs, inshore rockfish are protected from all mortality associated with recreational and commercial fisheries.”
Link to the file on The Problem with Motor Boats in the Reserve:
sea lion with flasherLink to the file on Fishing Equipment entanglement at Race Rocks
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