Fishermen on the Fraser River toss freshly caught sockeye into a tote during the 2010 fishery. Officials are cautiously optimistic there will be a commercial fishery this year.

Fishermen on the Fraser River toss freshly caught sockeye into a tote during the 2010 fishery. Officials are cautiously optimistic there will be a commercial fishery this year.

Fraser sockeye watchers see stock rebuilding

Forecast calls for run of nearly 4.8 million sockeye, close to nine million pink salmon

Salmon watchers are hoping this is the year the troubled Fraser River sockeye run turns the corner on its disastrous collapse four years ago.

If returns come in as forecast, nearly 4.8 million sockeye will make their way up the Fraser this summer.

That’s still well short of the longer term average of 8.6 million for this part of the four-year cycle.

But it would be a huge improvement from 2009, when more than 10 million salmon were expected and just 1.5 million arrived, prompting the federal government to appoint the Cohen Commission into the decline.

“Hopefully we’ll get a run that’s much improved relative to 2009,” said Mike Lapointe, chief biologist for the Pacific Salmon Commission.

“If the run returns bigger and we’re able to get some rebuilding, that will be very important for the sockeye moving forward. It will be definitely be more than what we had in the parent year that produced it.”

Nobody is guaranteeing a commercial fishery yet.

The pre-season forecast shows a one-in-four chance of a Fraser sockeye run below 2.7 million, which would likely rule out commercial fishing, and a one-in-10 chance it will be as bad as 2009.

But after the Cohen inquiry failed to come up with a single cause or solution to the slide, observers like Lapointe would be happy to continue to see an improving trendline.

“We definitely did better in 2012 than 2008, we did better in 2011 than in 2007. If we can do better again in 2013 from 2009 we’ll have gotten some rebuilding off of those three very low years.”

Last year’s sockeye return, while up, wasn’t enough to allow commercial fishing or sports angling.

There are no concerns about 2014 – next year marks the return of the huge Adams River run, which came back with a stunning return of more than 30 million sockeye in 2010, meaning enough fish spawned to assure at least a healthy run.

The bulk of this year’s sockeye are summer-run salmon, concentrated in two stocks – the Quesnel and Chilko lake systems.

Also coming back this year are pink salmon, which run on a two-year cycle.

Nearly nine million pinks are forecast to return – below average and down from the last couple of runs of more than 15 million.

Still, Lapointe said there are good odds of some commercial fishing for pinks, which typically fetch around 40 cents a pound, compared to $1.50 to $2 for sockeye.

“It’s going to depend on how many pinks there are and how much interest there is [from the commercial fleet].”

Sockeye salmon returning to the Adams River in 2010.

Salmon named official fish emblem

The provincial government on Saturday declared Pacific salmon to be B.C.’s official fish emblem, in recognition of its high ecological, cultural and economic significance.

The designation captures all Pacific salmonids – sockeye, chinook, coho, pink and chum, plus ocean-going steelhead and cutthroat trout.

“With the epic migration of Pacific salmon from B.C.’s rivers and streams to the ocean and back, there is no symbol more iconic of British Columbia,” Environment Minister Terry Lake said, adding they’re integral to First Nations and often seen as indicators of overall ecosystem and wildlife health.

Salmon take a place among B.C. official symbols like the spirit bear (official mammal), western red cedar (official tree), Steller’s jay (official bird), jade (official mineral and Pacific dogwood (official floral emblem).

Just Posted

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

FILE
70 per cent of people aged 12 and older in Agassiz-Harrison have been vaccinated

More than 80 per cent of adults aged 50 and older have been vaccinated, as of June 10

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Agassiz Agricultural Hall hosts COVID-19 vaccination clinics every Wednesday. District officials reported more than 300 doses are administered per week. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Walk-in COVID vaccine clinic scheduled for Wednesday

Walk-in appointments available while supplies last from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Most Read