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Author Topic: Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years  (Read 10209 times)

troutbreath

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Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
« on: September 09, 2008, 08:22:29 PM »

Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
Summer's run falls 60 per cent below the average, fisheries department says
 
Scott Simpson
Vancouver Sun


Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Fraser River sockeye returns appear to be at their lowest ebb in 50 years, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said Monday. This summer's returns are already the lowest in the four-year cycle of migrating Fraser-system sockeye, with an average return since 1958 of 4.4 million of the prized salmon on this cycle.

This year is 60 per cent below that amount -- 1.7 million fish -- fisheries department's salmon team leader, Paul Ryall, said in a telephone interview.

The parent group for this year's return, which migrated into the Fraser system and spawned in 2004, was similarly weak at about 1.9 million fish.

Other than a brief opening for commercial and recreational fishermen in July, and some catch by U.S. fishermen under the Pacific Salmon Treaty, the only appreciable fishing has been by first nations for food, societal and ceremonial purposes.

The commercial and sport fisheries were authorized when a brief July bump in migration created an impression that a major run had arrived off the southern coast of Vancouver Island.

But when it became evident that the run was in fact exceptionally weak, the department quickly shut the fishery down.

"It became clear that the fish just weren't there, and we closed any further commercial opportunities," Ryall said.

The department warned as long ago as December 2007 that this year's run would be exceptionally weak, based on a low number of fish -- 521,000 -- that made it back to spawning grounds four years ago to birth this year's run.

Poor marine survival is also considered a key factor for the continuing struggles of the species -- the survival rate for young salmon to mature to adulthood and return to spawn can run to five per cent, or even higher in a year in which the ocean is a lush, nourishing environment.

Ryall said the department estimates this year's run had a survival rate of only about one per cent from the time they hatched and migrated down to the ocean, to the time they made their way back to the river as adults.

It's not entirely clear what's causing the survival problem -- everything from climate change and shifting ocean currents to ocean acidification have been considered potential culprits.

What is certain is that both Alaskan and Russian sockeye populations are thriving even as B.C.'s struggle, and that Fraser sockeye also continue to exhibit unanticipated migratory behavior -- moving out of the ocean and into the Fraser River about five days earlier than usual.

There is a bit of good news in this -- for the fish, if not for the people who like to eat them.

In anticipating this year's weak run, the department consulted over a period of months with first nations living along the sockeye's migration area in the Strait of Georgia and Johnstone Strait, as well as aboriginals living along the Fraser itself, and commercial and sport groups -- bracing them in advance for a bad year.

In a typical year, first nations take 800,000 to one million sockeye out of the Fraser, but this year the department limited their fishing and they've only caught 400,000. As a consequence, the expected number of fish that will escape human predation and make it back to spawning grounds is about 1.2 million.

That's an improvement over the 50-year average escapement of 822,000.

ssimpson@vancouversun.com

THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY

The Fraser River sockeye fishery this year was one of the worst on record.

This year: Total return 1.7 million

Average number of sockeye returning each summer on the current (2004-2008) cycle: 4.4 million

HOW THE NUMBERS WORK

Of the 1.7 million Fraser sockeye total return this summer:

online

You can comment on this story at vancouversun.com/usaid

The Vancouver Sun 2008
 

 
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another SLICE of dirty fish perhaps?

Sinaran

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Re: Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2008, 10:38:57 PM »

Oh, by the way, the "Fresh Frozen Sockeye on sale" signs are still attached to the poles!  Talking about unlimited supplies...
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Fish on!!! woohoo..!!

Steelhawk

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Re: Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2008, 11:14:50 PM »

The real shame is allowing the special privileged group to take 400,000 fish in one of the worst years. By the way, that is only the reported catch. If this goes on, socs will go the way of the dinosaurs soon enough due to the greed of man.
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flatlander

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Re: Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2008, 07:09:16 AM »

Steelhawk you're absolutely right.  How many unreported fish were actually taken by FN.  It's saddening to see the sockeye stocks being driven to extinction. 

Sinaran, if you think the signs are bad.  Last month when I was outside my house I saw a FN guy drive up in his truck to my next door neighbor to deliver fish.  And no my neighbor is not FN.
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SnaggedADuck

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Re: Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2008, 12:41:15 PM »

For such a weak year its a shame that the season was open at all for fishing.  I wonder how the cultus lake hatchery program went.
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RainbowMan

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Re: Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2008, 09:40:52 PM »

Sockeye returns lowest in 50 years and the FN still were allowed to harvest :-\ What a shame!

But it isn't surprising because we're approaching the next provincial election in May. Politicians do everything to stay in power, you think they care 'bout fishery?
« Last Edit: September 11, 2008, 09:46:40 PM by RainbowMan »
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Terry D

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Re: Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2008, 12:37:30 PM »

At least they won't be able to blame the recreational fisherman when their stocks dry up.
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Steelhawk

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Re: Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2008, 04:35:32 PM »

At least they won't be able to blame the recreational fisherman when their stocks dry up.

Terry, you are so right. That is what I have been saying all along. FN is the only group taking major quantity of fish now. So they cannot blame anyone else when the stocks collapse which should be not too far in the the future the way they are raping the river of any remaining socs. During the last few trips in the bars, sockeyes by-catch was rare, and those few landed do show a high rate of net marks. Even these lucky escapees may not make it to the spawning grounds with that kind of net strangulation. So why the heck the sockeye fishery still open for massive kill when the run is so low? Friends still talking about how good a deal they paid for those socs from FN source. Are the government people just blind or simply dumb. Why inflict the stock more with these brutal openings for weeks after weeks? Blow our minds.  ???
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RainbowMan

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Re: Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2008, 10:51:13 PM »

At least they won't be able to blame the recreational fisherman when their stocks dry up.

Terry, you are so right. That is what I have been saying all along. FN is the only group taking major quantity of fish now. So they cannot blame anyone else when the stocks collapse which should be not too far in the the future the way they are raping the river of any remaining socs. During the last few trips in the bars, sockeyes by-catch was rare, and those few landed do show a high rate of net marks. Even these lucky escapees may not make it to the spawning grounds with that kind of net strangulation. So why the heck the sockeye fishery still open for massive kill when the run is so low? Friends still talking about how good a deal they paid for those socs from FN source. Are the government people just blind or simply dumb. Why inflict the stock more with these brutal openings for weeks after weeks? Blow our minds.  ???

Steelhawk, They are neither blind nor dumb. They are just a bunch of power hungry animals who know how to play their cards at the right time. They don't care about the fishery or recreational anglers. They do everything to stay in power and have access to strategic resources. So sad the general public is kept busy with the price of gas at the pump or the other childish stuff.
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Terry D

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Re: Fraser sockeye returns lowest in 50 years
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2008, 09:30:38 AM »

When I was serving on one of the Environment Agency's committees in the UK, we voted to ban all gill net fishing on a national level.  However, the Agency's experts did say they required gill nets for certain deep waters (30ft plus) as this was the only suitable method for taking fish samples.  All our committee members were unanimous in the decision to ban gill nets based on the damage they do to all species caught, not just the target species.  For deep waters we agreed that a special licence needs to be applied for.
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