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BC's Sockeye salmon run the biggest seen in 97 years

By Stephanie Dearing     Aug 26, 2010 in Environment
It's good news for British Columbia's salmon fishermen, particularly those situated on the Fraser River - this year's Sockeye salmon run is the biggest one seen in 100 years.
But that hasn't stopped many from hanging on to fears for the future of the salmon fishery, reports The Province. The size of the return was not expected and many are stunned by the abundance of salmon. But those who know say the return will result in "overspawning" where too many future offspring will compete for scarce resources, resulting in a decrease in the survival rate for the young fish reported CTV.
The spectacle of the returning salmon has wowed many fisherman. Steve Johansen told the Vancouver Courier "Seven miles of solid sockeye—jumping, boiling, finning on the surface of the water. I’ve fished all my life and I’ve never seen this.” But Johanson cautioned that this year's unexpectedly strong return did not mean the future for sockeye salmon is bright.
The strong return has seen work at processing plants pick up, a welcome boost for local folks after four long years of a lack of sockeye salmon. While this year's open fishery is welcomed by many, there are some who are not happy with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The Globe & Mail reported the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is upset over the decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to open up the Osoyoos Lake Sockeye fishery, located in southern British Columbia. The fishery has been endangered since a dam was constructed on the river 1930s, but careful management by the Okanagan Nation Alliance over the past six years has seen the salmon population grow. The DFO opened up the fishery for nine days this month without consulting with the ONA, who did not want the fishery opened at all.
The Assembly of First Nations issued a press release Tuesday lending their support to the Okanagan Nation Alliance. The ONA's position has prompted one spokesperson from the DFO, Les Jantz to tell the Osoyoo Times “The minister of fisheries and oceans is the legal authority for management of sockeye fisheries. They are not the owners of the resource. We have been talking to them for roughly two years now about the potential for both economic and recreational fisheries."
CBC News reported industry insiders expected wholesale and retail prices for the fish to drop due to the abundance. The last time there were this many sockeye on the Fraser River was 1913.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans had cautiously forecast a return of between 10 to 20 million sockeye to the Fraser River this year. CTV reported the Pacific Salmon Commission predicted a return of 25 million.
The Sockeye fishery was opened on August 5th.
More about Sockeye salmon, Fraser river, Department fisheries oceans, Okanagan nation alliance
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