Fraser River Sockeye Salmon Not Returning Results as Expected

Optimism about what is expected to be a bountiful harvest of wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia turned into a quagmire this week as regulators’ estimates of their return to the Fraser River dropped by almost half.

The Pacific Salmon Commission’s preseason estimate of 9.8 million fish fell to 5.5 million on Monday, prompting environmentalists and fishermen alike to voice concerns.

“It’s disturbingly bad,” said Greg Taylor, senior fisheries adviser for the Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

Expectations were high for this year’s sockeye breeding, he said, as sockeye salmon spawning returns to the Fraser River for a four-year cycle, with 2022 set to be one of its peaks.

The low numbers raise conservation concerns and suggest that the sockeye fishery in BC waters is unlikely to open this year, with commercial fisheries cooperatives saying the situation is dire for their members.

It came days after unconservative estimates sparked tensions between U.S. and Canadian officials.

A commission jointly set up by the United States and Canada to manage the Pacific salmon stock estimated last Thursday that the number would be 7.2 million before lowering it further.

The United States last week accepted the commission’s assessment and allowed sockeye salmon fishing to begin over the weekend, but the Canadian Fisheries Agency called for more conservative numbers and Canadian fisheries remained closed.

Fiona Martens, chief of the commission’s fisheries management program, said, “The United States agreed with our recommendations last week, and Canada wanted to see numbers even lower than those recommended.

Martens said the commission is making its best guess based on test catches and models. I got

Concerns over #BC #SockeyeSalmon as #FraserRiver return estimates drop by millions of dollars.

“To come up with the optimal run size, you have to look at the peaks in that data.

U.S. fisheries have been closed since then, she said.

Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray was not available for an interview, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife did not return requests for comment.

Murray spokesman Kevin Lemkay said the government follows the panel’s decision and has “great concerns” for both wild salmon and Canadian harvesters.

“During negotiations, the DFO believed that the (committee’s) orchid size estimates were too high and was very disappointed that the fishery proposals were allowed based on overly optimistic orchid size estimates. It was clear that there was,” Lem-Kay said in a statement.

Canada said it was happy the commission had taken a more “precautionary approach”, but that the government was equally disappointed that sockeye orchids were proving weaker than expected. .

Fishermen expressed their disappointment at missing fishing opportunities and lack of government support. British He is fishing in Steveston, Columbia. For his Lewis, it was his chest pounding when he learned that his U.S. counterpart was hitting the surface while he was forced to dock. It seemed like it would burst.

“Fortunately, I work in other fisheries – crabs, shrimp and herring. Their boats will be forced to sell their gear,” he said from Cowichan Bay.

James Lawson, president of the United Fishermen’s Federation of Workers Union (UNIFOR), said some commercial fishermen go out to sea with the intention of fishing and cannot afford to return home without a catch.

The federal government is not providing adequate transition assistance to fishers because the fishing industry is collapsing around them, he said. He said license fees should be cut for financial relief.

“They should be looking for a workforce adjustment for us, maybe some kind of disaster relief,” he said, noting that fishing has been restricted for years.

The union believes in acting on the best available science and agrees with the commission’s estimates, including Thursday’s, which provided a temporary harvest, he said. has passed, so the short chance to fish is gone.

“It was a slim chance, but the Americans effectively used it to throw us out of the sea. I was blown away,” he said.

Mr Lemkay said the impact on harvesters has not outdone the minister. Through the $647 million Pacific Salmon Strategic Initiative, the government is developing a license buyback program with input from license holders. Assistance will also be provided for the disposal of vessels and non-selective fishing gear, he said.

The tiny Fraser Run is a worrying anomaly that could indicate the effects of human activity, Taylor said.

In particular, sockeye return to other parts of the North Pacific is brisk, from Russia to the Columbia River, he said. They include the Skeena River and Barclay Sound in British Columbia.

Fraser’s returns are weakest in the south and east of the basin, he said, where humans have altered the landscape. This year’s runs include the famous Adams his Rivers run and other runs in the Kamloops and Shuswap areas.

“It raises some questions. It’s where much of the population lives, and where we humans have really manipulated habitat,” he said, noting that climate change will lead to rising water temperatures, mountain It also contributes to fires and other negative impacts on the region, he added. .

The decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River could be the canary of the coal mine and could reflect the health of the land in and around the Salish Sea, he added.

“I hate to use that tired old trope, but they really are,” he said.

The numbers should send a warning signal to all British Columbians about the need to reform logging practices and protect and restore habitats, he said.

“Otherwise, poor salmon’s future doesn’t look good.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on August 24, 2022.

Fraser River Sockeye Salmon Not Returning Results as Expected

Source link Fraser River Sockeye Salmon Not Returning Results as Expected

Related Articles

Back to top button