Return of the Salmon


Today’s Photo of the Week will be postponed until tomorrow so I can fill you in on this very exciting report from the fishery:

With the news coming in from the fishing grounds, you could be forgiven for thinking that the past has suddenly come to life around you. According to an article in Wednesday’s Vancouver Sun, there are reports of fish going rotten in boats, fishermen being turned away at the docks, and, while it’s not quite “so many fish you could walk across the river on them,” fishermen are saying that “you can fish all day and there’s still fish at the end.” It’s being hailed as the largest run since 1913, and that’s got everyone really excited.

After last year’s return of only 1.7 million fish, latest estimates from the Department of Fisheries peg the number of returning sockeye at more than 25 million. Of this run, 10 million have been accounted for so far – 4.1 million caught, and 5.9 million spawners. This doesn’t mean that the fisheries are out of the woods yet though – since sockeye run on four year cycles, fishermen are preparing to live on this year’s intake until 2014, when this run’s descendents come back to spawn.

As all of this is happening in the midst of the Cohen commission’s inquiry into the missing salmon, which itself is having some growing pains. The latest news from the inquiry is the dismissal of the scientific advisory board in favour of peer-reviewed science:

An Aug. 17 press release announced the change along with the establishment of 12 research projects “to study aspects of the decline of Fraser River sockeye salmon, as well as the cumulative effects of the decline.”

The researchers’ final reports, due Jan. 31, 2011, will be peer reviewed, with researchers and external reviewers providing critical analysis. […read full article]

And while some may question why the Commission is still going ahead, fisherman and B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition spokesman, Phil Eidsvik, notes that it simply changes the focus from non-human factors like global warming:

“A lot of the non-human impact factors can probably be eliminated. We can focus now on what is unique this year, and I think it points to the management of the fishery,” Eidsvik said.

Inquiry hearings start Monday, October 25.

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