Sockeye salmon heading upstream to spawn are running into river temperatures around 21 degrees – 3.3 degrees higher than normal. That's dangerously high and can kill many salmon before they reach the spawning beds.

Fraser sockeye run size upgraded but concerns linger

River temperatures still a worry as more salmon arrive

The estimated size of the Fraser River sockeye run was boosted Friday as more inbound salmon are arriving later than anticipated in the waters around Vancouver Island.

The Pacific Salmon Commission now estimates the main summer run of sockeye at 2.3 million fish, up from two million as of Aug. 13, and the early summer run is now pegged at 520,000 fish, up from 475,000.

The overall run size is currently estimated at just over three million, with late-run sockeye that were projected to add 583,000 not yet included in the count.

That’s well below the 4.8 million run size forecast for this summer, but an improvement from the 1.6 million return of four years ago that triggered the Cohen Inquiry.

There’s still deep concern that high river temperatures of around 21 degrees – 3.3 degrees higher than average – may kill up to 70 per cent of the incoming sockeye before they can spawn.

That prompted the commission to scale back test fishing to reduce pressure on the stock and DFO cut off all sports angling for salmon on the lower Fraser to avoid any sockeye bycatch there.

Observers have reported seeing more floating carcasses in the river but the PSC said most sockeye swimming upriver appear to be in good condition so far.

There’s still no expectation of any more commercial or aboriginal food fishery openings for sockeye.

Close to nine million pink salmon are also forecast to arrive, however, and large numbers of that species are now being detected, suggesting an even bigger run than predicted.

A big pink run could allow fishery openings in September.

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