Theories for the salmon's decline, such as global warming, can now be discarded, fishermen say. (Photo: Youtube/fishingwithrod)
Fraser sockeye returns reach 100-year record
Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
British Columbia’s (BC) Fraser River will receive the largest sockeye salmon return since 1913 at more than 25 million fish, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said on Tuesday. This comes a mere year after the smallest return in more than 50 years: 1.7 million.
Tuesday’s test catch was the biggest of the year, according to Barry Rosenberger, area director for DFO. The department has thus allowed another set of openings for commercial fishing and enlarged the fishery.
The sockeye surplus, however, has led supplier and retailer 7 Seas to decline fishers’ offers, reports Vancouver Sun.
“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.”
Heras said the surplus has resulted in insufficient amounts of ice and freezer space for storage, as well as totes and processing space after many people quit the business due to bad years.
Commercial fleets were last allowed to fish in 2006 with an approved total commercial catch of 3.7 million fish.
A spokesman for the BC Fisheries Survival Coalition, he said he only worries that too many sockeye will be allowed to spawn and cause mass deaths as they fight to reach their spawning grounds. This could threaten the 2014 fishing season, as salmon have a four-year life cycle.
“This is the first year we’ve fished sockeye in four years, and we don’t expect to fish for the next three years,” a fisherman said.
Ten million fish have been counted so far, with 4.1 million caught and 5.9 million expected to spawn, Rosenberger said.
Gail Shea, federal minister of DFO, said she had no clue why the numbers have boomed. This comes as the CAD 15 million (USD 14.2 million) Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the disappearance of Fraser sockeye continues.
“[The inquiry] will have to take these numbers into account,” she said.
DFO will see if it raises the present harvest target of 30 per cent of salmon returns.
Led by BC Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cohen, the commission has swerved off track by focusing on science instead of the Fraser River’s management, said Delta-Richmond East MP John Cummins.
The public inquiry hearings begin on 25 October and may continue into 2011.
- Cohen Commission contracting experts to look into sockeye fishery
- Fraser sockeye salmon fishery opens
- BC sockeye decline investigation launched
By Natalia Real