A bin full of Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Sockeye salmon numbers ‘pretty positive’

Fraser run shows healthy gain from four years ago

An estimated 4.5 million sockeye salmon are returning to the Fraser River system this summer and the run size has fishery managers cautiously optimistic about the survival of the iconic fish.

Granted, it’s a tiny fraction of the record 30 million sockeye that returned last year.

But sockeye run on a four-year cycle, so managers aren’t comparing this run against last year – which was the high end of the cycle and was further amplified by mysteriously favourable ocean conditions.

Instead, Pacific Salmon Commission chief biologist Mike Lapointe notes these salmon are the spawn of the sockeye that migrated back in 2007 – a year when less than two million sockeye returned and the fishery was shut down.

That was the start of three years of similarly low returns that led the federal government to appoint the Cohen Commission to investigate the decline.

“The sockeye run is certainly better than forecast,” Lapointe said, noting it was expected to be as low as 3.1 million.

To now see more than twice as many sockeye four years later is “pretty positive” and might be the beginning of a turnaround for the runs that migrate on this part of the cycle, Lapointe said.

Unlike 2007, this year’s return has allowed a fishery while ensuring enough salmon get upriver to spawn.

An estimated 1.6 million sockeye have been caught, including 790,000 by aboriginal fisheries, 432,000 by Canadian commercial boats and 265,000 by U.S. fishermen.

A quarter of the incoming sockeye – 1.1 million salmon – are headed for Harrison Lake.

“It’s continuing to have really good returns and do its own thing,” Lapointe said of Harrison sockeye.

The Cohen Inquiry has heard evidence that the Harrison run spends less time in freshwater and migrates around the west side of Vancouver Island. Most other Fraser-bound sockeye tend to go around the east side where they pass by fish farms that activists blame for spreading disease or parasites.

An estimated 17.5 million pink salmon are also returning this year.

Lapointe said increased demand and higher prices for the traditionally lower value salmon has prompted more commercial fishing for them than usual.

Nearly six million pinks have now been caught, he said.

Just Posted

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Highest earning staff at Fraser-Cascade School District made public

Also board looks into seat belts on school buses, Marv Cope gets road in his memory

Agassiz teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

AESS students say they had the experience of a life time

WATCH: Brother of missing Hope woman makes emotional appeal for more media attention

Next search for Shawnee Inyallie Nov. 18 along Highway 1 towards Boston Bar

Gas price drop expected to hit Fraser Valley today

Analyst says to take advantage, warns slight increase may follow

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

Bankruptcies in British Columbia on the rise

Consumer bankruptcies climbed by 6. 1 per cent in August 2018 from the same month last year.

22 public toilets in Victoria: 136 people currently peeing

World Toilet Day floats some serious health issues

Calgary Stampeders back to Grey Cup with 22-14 win over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Calgary was favoured to win the 2017 and 2016 Grey Cups, but lost to the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks respectively.

‘A giant step forward’: new $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond to enter circulation

A new $10 banknote featuring Viola Desmond’s portrait will go into circulation, just over 72 years after she was ousted from the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S.

Searchers in California wildfire step up efforts; 77 dead

Trump arrived at the oceanside conclave Saturday afternoon after visiting Northern California to survey the wildfire damage in the town of Paradise.

Trump says ‘no reason’ for him to hear Khashoggi death tape

“It’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it,” Trump said in the interview.

Canada Post calls for ‘cooling off’ period to allow for mediated talks

The proposal came as Canada Post workers continued their rotating strikes Monday after rejecting the Crown agency’s latest offer.

Metro Vancouver homicide detectives busy after separate weekend deaths

Homicide detectives in Metro Vancouver are investigating separate cases involving two deaths they say appear to be either targeted or suspicious.

Most Read