(Rainy Day on the Koksilah River/Photo by Thomas Dawson Photography)

The provincial government is proposing extended fishing closures for southern Vancouver Island rivers amid fears of droughts stressing out the fish.

The proposal, which hasn’t been finalized yet, would see the Koksilah and Chemainus River watersheds closed from July 1st to September 30th “to reflect the increased severity and duration of conditions typically experienced in those systems”.

Moreover, fly fishing would be prohibited in the Cowichan River downstream of the Mile 66 railway trestle between September 1st and November 15th, and would only be allowed upstream of that point during those dates.

Big Qualicum, Puntledge, Quinsam, Oyster, and Nitinat rivers would be excluded from these closures.

The province explains its motives for proposing the extended closures by pointing to the stress endured by fish due to “elevated water temperatures and severely reduced stream flows … particularly where fish are angled to exhaustion by anglers.”

In coming to this conclusion, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development evaluated available data from periods when flow levels were frequently near or below 5% mean annual discharge.

The Ministry is currently seeking public feedback on the proposed closures until January 11th, 2019. Click here to view contact information and voice your opinion.