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

Grieving South Surrey mom ‘disappointed’ province not moving quicker to fix recovery homes

Min. Judy Darcy says new regulations, effective Dec. 1, follow ‘many horror stories’

B.C.’s health, addictions ministers to announce changes to recovery-house rules

Safety, quality of care targeted; South Surrey parent whose son overdosed ‘curious’ about amendments

North Delta MLA Ravi Kahlon cleared of conflict allegations

Commissioner finds MLA’s father’s taxi licence doesn’t equal a conflict of interest while working on ride-sharing regulations

Surrey school district unveils its first rainbow crosswalk

Superintendent Jordan Tinney says colour crossing ‘a statement that everyone is welcome in Surrey’

Potters’ House of Horrors sets date for opening weekend in Surrey

The ‘Death Valley Motor Inn’ is an all-new haunted house this year

Pickle me this: All the outrageous foods at this year’s PNE

Pickled cotton candy, deep-fried chicken skins, and ramen corndogs are just a start

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Mammoth sturgeon catch was ‘a fish of a lifetime’ for Chilliwack guide

Sturgeon was so enormous it tied for largest specimen every tagged and released in the Fraser

Fraser River sea bus proposed to hook into TransLink system

Maple Ridge councillor just wants to start discussion

Rosemount cooked diced chicken linked to listeria case in B.C.

The symptoms of listeria include vomiting, nausea, fever, muscle aches

Body found believed to be missing Chilliwack senior with dementia

Police say case is now in the hands of the coroner

Most Read

l -->