Fraser River Sockeye Update- Fisheries Notice

Resource: Fraser River Sockeye Update- Fisheries Notice

FN0859-Salmon – Fraser River Sockeye Update – Areas 11 to 29 – August 12, 2016 (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

The Fraser River Panel met Friday, August 12th, to receive an update on the migration of the Fraser sockeye runs to date and to review the status of migration conditions in the Fraser River watershed.

Gill net and purse seine test fish catches in the marine areas have fluctuated at relatively low levels in recent days indicating a low flow of fish through the marine approach areas. The Area 12 gill net test fishery concluded on August 9th and the seine test boats in both Areas 12 and 20 will be ending operations today. Fraser River gill net test fishery catches have continued to fluctuate lately with daily Mission passage estimates ranging from 13,400 to 22,300. The current 5-day diversion rate through Johnstone Strait has increased to 71% which is approaching but still below the pre-season forecast of 75% for the season.

DNA analysis of samples taken in the most recent marine test fisheries show sockeye stock compositions in Area 20 of 4% Early Summer, 50% Summer and 46% Late run stocks. In Johnstone Strait the most recent seine test fishery DNA samples indicate a stock composition of 11% Early Summer, 78% Summer and 11% Late run stocks. In-river DNA samples from the Cottonwood test fishery on August 7-9 had 12% Early Summer, 78% Summer and 10% Late run stocks while the Whonnock test fishery had stock proportions of 0% Early Summer, 72% Summer and 28% Late run stocks on August 8-10. Age proportions continue to contain a higher proportion of 5 year olds than expected.

During the Panel meeting today the run size for Early Summer run sockeye was unchanged at 250,000 with a 50% run timing of July 21st in Area 20. The estimated escapement past Mission of Early Summer run stocks as of August 11th is 216,000 fish.

During the Panel call today the Summer run size was further reduced from Tuesday’s adopted run size of 700,000 sockeye to 600,000 with a 50% run timing of July 31st in Area 20. The estimated escapement of Summer run sockeye past Mission through August 11th is 295,900 fish.

The Late run sockeye are currently tracking slightly above the 50% probability forecast of 111,000 but no changes were made to the run size at the Panel meeting today. The estimated escapement of Late run sockeye past Mission through August 11th is 20,600 fish.

On August 11th the Fraser River water discharge at Hope was 3,002 cms, which is approximately 17% lower than average for this date. The temperature of the Fraser River at Qualark Creek on August 11th was 20.2°C, which is 2.1°C higher than average for this date. The water temperature is forecast to increase to 21.8°C by August 17th.

For pre-season planning purposes the Fraser Panel has adopted management adjustments for Early Summer and Summer sockeye that reflect the forecast conditions based on the May to June information. Management adjustments are additional fish that are removed from identified harvest levels and allowed to escape upstream in an attempt to assist in achievement of identified escapement objectives for the different run timing groups. In-season information over the coming weeks will help to inform future decisions on management adjustments for the Early Summer and Summer management groups while the Early Stuart and Late run management groups will be managed based on the respective Low Abundance Exploitation Rate (LAER) for each group (10% for Early Stuart and 20% for Lates). There will be no in-season estimates of management adjustment for Early Stuart and Late run sockeye in 2016 as the forecast returns are very low across the entire forecast range and it is anticipated they will be managed to the LAER, with the expected outcome of a spawning escapement well below goal.

During the Panel call today there were no changes made to the management adjustments for Early Summer and Summer run sockeye.

FSC fisheries in the marine area are currently closed to the retention of sockeye in areas where Fraser sockeye are present. FSC fisheries in the lower and mid-Fraser River are currently closed and terminal fisheries in the upper Fraser tributaries that have only been open for a short period of time will be closing in an orderly fashion. Fishers in marine approach areas as well as the Fraser River are requested to check for any restrictions in their local area. There will be no commercial or recreational sockeye fisheries in 2016 on Fraser sockeye.

The third in-season update on the escapement of Fraser sockeye was released on August 11th. Early Stuart sockeye are approaching the peak of spawning in several tributaries. Fish condition appears to be relatively good although some pre-spawn mortality has been observed. At Scotch Creek the counting fence has been installed but no fish have entered the system at this time. Some fish have been observed off the mouth of Scotch Creek in Shuswap Lake. The Didson program in the Chilliwack system began on July 20th with an estimated 30,520 sockeye past the sonar as of August 10th. The Chilko River Didson program began on August 5th and fish migration is in the early stages at this time. A total of 107 sockeye have been estimated past the sonar site as of August 9th. Water temperatures in the above systems are favorable at this time. The Sweltzer Creek counting fence in the Cultus Lake system began operations on July 11th and to date 52 sockeye have been observed. The water temperature in Sweltzer Creek is 20°C. The next escapement update will be on Thursday, August 18th.

The next in-season meeting of the Fraser River Panel is scheduled to occur on Tuesday, August 16th, 2016.

If you have any questions, please contact us via e-mail to: OpsCentre@dfo-mpo.gc.ca