More fish escaping North Coast fishermen in 2016

While the season opened earlier than in recent years, fisherman are having a poor harvest in the Skeena River.

Sockeye salmon are evading the fisheries early in the season.

The fishing season has had a grim opening.

While the season opened earlier than in recent years, fisherman are having a poor harvest in the Skeena River.

The Skeena Tyee test fishery, a gillnetter that collects data for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to determine the amount of sockeye salmon that escape the fishery, reported higher than average levels of escapement on July 8-9.

The Northern Representative for the United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union (UFAWU), Joy Thorkelson, said only 7,000 fish were caught and there were 230 boats out fishing. Area 4, in the Skeena, is tracking well but people have different theories about why so many fish bypassed those fishermen.

“We don’t know if it was deep or the fishermen weren’t fishing in the right areas. We don’t know what happened. There was lots of escapement and they should have caught way more than they did,” she said.

There are many factors that can affect the sockeye salmon harvest, said Mark Potyrala, a fisheries management biologist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Those factors include the changing water levels, turbidity and temperature, predator abundance and migration patterns.

DFO theorizes that turbidity may be one of the factors at play.

“There’s low turbidity in the river and it is possible that there is a higher incidence of fish avoiding the net, and with the clearer water in both the river and out in the marine fishing area, fish are likely going down deeper,” Potyrala said.

Another theory is that the temperature of the water is higher than normal. It’s 17 C degrees, which Potyrala said is elevated from normal but only by a degree, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary and water levels are higher than last year at Environment Canada’s Usk gauging station, just up-river of Terrace.

Fishermen are reporting low catches in the ocean as well, which Potyrala said is likely due to very clear water in Skeena approach waters where the gillnetters fish.

“We also haven’t seen anything in the river from food fisheries either to indicate that there’s lots of fish in the river,” numbers that come from First Nations.

The catch and escapement to July 14 suggests an estimated total return to Canada of 1.4 million Skeena sockeye salmon for 2016, down from a projection of almost 3 million on June 30. The declining trend in the total return estimate is troubling to DFO.

“We hope that there’s going to be more fish coming,” Potyrala said.

 

Just Posted

Kurka keeps thing official

The longtime hockey referee has been on the ice in Prince Rupert for more than 30 years

Rampaging toward the playoffs

The Prince Rupert Rampage beat the Terrace River Kings 8-5 on Jan. 20

Sweet tradition returns: Sugar Shack 2018

The 2018 Sugar Shack festival celebrates Francophone culture in Prince Rupert Jan. 24-27

Joie de vivre

Finding those “awe” moments with family, friends and food

Christians unite for one service in Rupert

Father Terry Brock is hoping to unite all of Prince Rupert’s Christians under one roof for one night

VIDEO: New whale rescue equipment comes to Rupert

Fisheries officers took to the water to practice saving stranded whales

Carriers wanted for the Northern View

We have open routes for carriers all over Prince Rupert

Complaint against Prince George RCMP in death of Wet’suwet’en man

Thirty-five year old Dale Culver died while in Prince George RCMP custody last summer.

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Most Read