Vancouver — The Pacific Salmon Commission estimates that 26 million pink salmon are returning to the Fraser River this year. While these pink salmon can be fished heavily without jeopardizing future returns, the sockeye, coho, and other salmon that migrate with the abundant pinks can be threatened at the same level of non-selective harvest.
While aboriginal, commercial, and recreational fisheries continue for pink salmon in the Fraser River, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans recently closed commercial fisheries in the coastal approaches to the Fraser. Biologists with Watershed Watch Salmon Society contend that the closure did not come a moment too soon, as several sockeye and coho populations being impacted by the pink fisheries are not expected to have sufficient numbers of adults returning to spawn. Record warm river temperatures combined with pathogens are expected to kill many of these fish before they can spawn, increasing the number that must be spared by fishermen.
Sockeye salmon returning to spawn this year are the very offspring of the Fraser sockeye that collapsed in 2009, then prompting the Prime Minister to launch the $26 million “Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon.” Nearly one year after Justice Cohen released his 1100 page final report with 75 recommendations, the federal government has yet to provide a formal response, and has already failed to meet 9 deadlines.
For more details on government progress regarding the Sockeye Inquiry recommendations, see our “Cohen Report Card”:
Watershed Watch Salmon Society contacts:
Craig Orr, Executive Director, 604-809-2799
Aaron Hill, Biologist, 250-818-0054
Stan Proboszcz, Biologist, 604-314-2713