Black Press file photo

Sockeye salmon return low in B.C. despite federal response

Cohen commission was launched after the fish’s near disappearance in the Fraser River system in 2009

The federal government says it has implemented most recommendations from a 2012 report aimed at revitalizing B.C.’s Fraser River sockeye salmon run, but the outlook for the species remains murky.

The Cohen commission was launched by the federal government after the near disappearance of the sockeye salmon run in the Fraser River system in 2009. Former B.C. Supreme Court judge Bruce Cohen made 75 suggestions for change, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada said Thursday it has acted on 64 of the recommendations.

Despite these efforts, officials say only 1.5 million salmon have returned to the Fraser River this year, well below the 4.4 million forecasted.

Sockeye salmon return on a four-year cycle, and the 2017 run is based on the previous returns from 2013 and 2009. The lowest return every recorded was in 2016 when just 850,000 sockeye came back.

Jennifer Nener, director of the department’s salmon management, said warmer temperatures in the Pacific Ocean may be largely to blame for poor salmon returns this year.

“We had very warm ocean conditions several degrees above average for a couple of years and that affected the whole food chain for salmon and everything else out there as well,” she said. ”What we suspect is that salmon have been affected by the availability of food when they get out into the ocean environment, so we’ve seen returns below expectations.”

She said the government has been conservative in the number of fish that can be caught in response to the low returns, but only time will tell if the government’s efforts will restore stocks in the long term.

“We have really, I would say, implemented more precautionary measures than ever before,” she said. “Obviously ocean temps are not something within our realm of control. What we can do is manage to the best of our ability to improve the survival of sockeye overall and other salmon species as well.”

Cohen’s recommendations included improving harvest and fisheries management, protecting habitat, assessing fish health and researching the implications of aqua culture and climate change on wild salmon.

Plans to implement a new wild salmon policy are also in the works and officials said consultations with First Nations and the public are expected to take place this fall.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Winter road maintenance standards boosted

Quicker response times to be implemented

Web Poll: Should B.C. have the same Family Day as the rest of Canada?

B.C. government to move the February holiday from the second week to the third week

Indigenous language app launched in Northern B.C.

Learning Sm’algyax with the help of a new website in Prince Rupert

RCMP briefs: Break-in at Port Edward store, multiple assaults in Rupert

Several people were arrested between April 9-15

Police say no foul play in house fire that claimed the life of a 77-year-old woman

A tragic death such as this affects the entire community, said Prince Rupert RCMP

Charles Hays student wins Pacific Northwest Regional Science Fair

Grade 12 student Maria Levkovytska will make the trip to Ottawa to showcase her project

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Builder of Kinder Morgan reinforces concerns over project

B.C. heads to court over pipeline jurisdiction as builder says doubt warranted

Health committee cheers idea of national pharmacare program, but cost an issue

Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu says she fears costs could be far higher than $19 billion

Canada’s oldest blood donor says it’s all gain, no pain after decades of giving

Great-grandmother and Coquitlam, B.C., resident has been donating blood since the late 1940s

Union says Trump bullying threatens hundreds of B.C. pulp mill jobs

Fear mounts that new U.S. anti-dumping duties could price Catalyst mills out of business

B.C. real estate regulator to undergo NDP review

B.C. real estate agents were self-regulated until 2016, when BC Liberals appointed superintendent

B.C. pizza shop broken into 4 times in 2 weeks

A Vernon business owner is beginning to feel targeted

Man accused of Abbotsford school stabbing hearing voices, intensely paranoid

Lawyer says Gabriel Klein not fit to stand trial in May because of deteriorating mental state

Most Read