25 Aug 2010, 10:42am
Salmon agencies Salmon counts
by admin

Record Sockeye Run in B.C.

by Ken Schlichte

Sockeye Returns Best in Nearly a Century

By Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun, August 25 2010 [here]

B.C. is now reaping the biggest sockeye salmon return in nearly a century, just a year after one of the smallest returns on record. Fishery officials estimated Tuesday that more than 25 million sockeye salmon will return to the Fraser River this year, the largest number since 1913. Last year’s return was 1.7 million.

The estimate could yet go higher, Barry Rosenberger, area director for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said as Tuesday’s test catch was the largest all year. The department has approved another set of openings for commercial fishing and expanded the fishery based on the record returns.

The huge bounty is causing challenges for supplier and retailer 7 Seas, where they’re turning fishermen away due to a surplus of sockeye.

People have fish going rotten in their boats; it’s really bad,” said 7 Seas president George Heras. “The fish is overwhelming everyone right now because there is way more than anyone expected.” …

The huge salmon run, ironically, comes during the $15-million Cohen commission of inquiry into the disappearance of Fraser sockeye.

The federal commission is going through a transformation of its own. It initially created a scientific advisory panel composed of six fisheries scientists, but this panel has now been scrapped in favour of a model that focuses on peer review. An Aug. 17 press release announced the change along with the establishment of 12 research projects “to study aspects of the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon, as well as the cumulative effects of the decline.” …

The recent dismissal of the panel follows the July resignation from the panel of Brian Riddell, a 30-year scientist with the federal fisheries department who is now chief executive officer of the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Riddell quit over concerns the commission wasn’t keeping politics and science separate.

Eidsvik said the fact that this year’s run is so large, but last year’s run was drastically small, means many possible causes for the salmon fishery’s decline can be discounted, including global warming. …

Last year’s drastically small Fraser River sockeye salmon run contrasts with last year’s Columbia River Bonneville Dam sockeye salmon run, illustrated [here], which was larger than the Ten Year Average (2000-2009) sockeye salmon run. We have seen the information indicating that last year’s above average Columbia River sockeye salmon run and this year’s huge Columbia River sockeye salmon run occurred because of the favorable offshore ocean habitat conditions created by the Cool Regime of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Those conditions should also have favored Fraser River sockeye salmon runs. It appears that 2009’s drastically small Fraser River sockeye salmon run was due to poor management of that fishery.



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