Sockeye Salmon swim in the Adams River towards their spawning grounds in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park in this 2014 file photo. (File)

Dominant year for B.C. salmon doesn’t mean increased harvest

Poor sockeye returns in the Shuswap make for difficult stock management decisions

  • Jul. 3, 2018 11:26 a.m.

It may be a dominant year for late-run sockeye salmon on the Fraser River, but that doesn’t mean commercial fisheries will see the benefit of increased fishing.

The median forecast is for 14 million sockeye returning to the Coast, of which almost half of them will be bound for the Shuswap (one third to the Adams River).

The goal of fisheries officials is to have the majority of the fish return to their spawning grounds, including 80 per cent of the mere 1,000 expected to return to Cultus Lake.

Related: Help conserve salmon

“When the Cultus Lake run was assessed as endangered in 2003, it was not legally listed under the Species at Risk Act for protection, but a recovery group and plan were formed,” says Mike Lapointe, chief biologist at the Pacific Salmon Commission. “In 2014, we had a forecast for 14,000 and you could show it was likely you could reach objectives. This year with the forecast so small, you can’t even meet the 80 per cent target if you don’t harvest a single fish.”

Below their “turnoff” at the Vedder River, it would be impossible to separate the Cultus Lake sockeye because they are swimming among the millions of salmon heading to destinations upstream.

Related: Shuswap sockeye returns low, conditions better in Scotch Creek

Lapointe understands the angst among commercial harvesters who have been hoping for greatly improved opportunities this year, but says the dilemma is in whether there’s a willingness to write off the Cultus Lake run in favour of allowing a greater allowable catch.

“I think because Cultus is an example that is doing poorly, there’s a precedent-setting element that could come about if you chose to write off the stock,” says Lapointe. “What does that mean to other lakes?”

As well, Lapointe says one of things that has frustrated the industry is that there’s a perception the harvesters are trying to do their part, when little is being done to address the human development and activity on the lake that is popular with vacationers.

Related: Column: Adams River salmon run in decline

Lapointe says the approach to managing Cultus Lake stock in 2018 has not yet been finalized, with the poor returns over the past few years making the decision more difficult.

Pre-run forecasts are made by the federal DFO and Pacific Salmon Commission staff are engaged in making in-season assessments through test fisheries.

Using information provided by the commission, the Fraser River Panel made up of reps from Canada and the U.S. makes the decision about how many sockeye can be caught.


@SalmonArm
barbbrouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

No Stuart Park fire-pit in Kelowna this winter

City says in bid to reduce natural gas use, it won’t light fire pit at popular outdoor ice rink

Differences between the California and Okanagan fires taken seriously

Chief Travis Whiting and Kelowna Fire Department learn from the devasting U.S. fires

Glenrosa Elementary PAC fundraiser nets $10,000

Half the $20,000 allegedly stolen from school funds is replaced

Physio treatment user fees dropped for auto accident injuries

ICBC negotiates new contract with B.C. Physiotherapy Association

Beat the Mondays: Trapped in Bali? Lessons learned from an erupting volcano

Gina Petrovich is a travel writer for the Kelowna Capital News

Your morning news in 90: Nov. 19, 2018

Tune in for 90 seconds to get the top headlines for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

UPDATE: Death of 38-year-old Fernie man at B.C. coal mine under investigation

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning

Breathing polluted air during pregnancy may increase odds of baby having autism: SFU study

Study looked at nearly all births in Metro Vancouver between 2004 and 2009

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Vehicle crashes over embankment in Penticton

Emergency responders are on scene after a vehicle went over an embankment along Carmi Avenue.

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.

Most Read