Monday, July 27, 2009

High water temperatures kill Fraser sockeye

Sockeye salmon numbers crash as bust replaces anticipated bounty on BC coast
Pacific Salmon Commission cuts estimates of spawning salmon almost in half

Vancouver Sun: What was supposed to be a bountiful year for the Fraser River Sockeye salmon fishery -- the height of the four-year cycle -- is beginning to look like a bust... Instead of the 165,000 projected before the season started, the commission now expects 85,000... The commission has also downgraded its pre-season projection of 739,000 early summer sockeye by 64 per cent to 264,000.

But the big question is what will happen to the summer sockeye, which are supposed to make up 83 per cent of the 10.5 million salmon the Pacific Salmon Commission had predicted would make their way up the Fraser River this year. The summer sockeye run so far has been 'well below expectations,' said a fishery notice released by Fisheries and Oceans Canada...

The Fisheries and Oceans Canada report is not optimistic, noting: 'Fraser River water temperatures are forecast to reach approximately 21 C by Aug. 1. Water temperatures exceeding 20 C may cause high en route mortality of Fraser River sockeye.' As a result of the low returns, the sockeye fishery on the Fraser River has been closed until further notice, raising concerns that first nations may not be able to catch enough for their food fishery...

Last year's sockeye salmon catch was 1.7 million fish, Fisheries and Oceans Canada salmon team leader Paul Ryell said last September. That was well below the average return of 4.4 million fish. In October, the International Union for the Conservation of nature went so far as to label BC's sockeye salmon a threatened species.
Image source here.