From an initial estimate of 2.3 million, the projected run size for Fraser River sockeye this season has sunk to 853,000, which would make it the poorest return since record keeping began, 113 years ago.
The rockbottom return — which has already led to closure of the Lower Fraser to recreational fishing and cancellation of this season’s Secwepemc inland fishery on Kamloops Lake — is forecast in the latest report from the Pacific Salmon Commission. Based on escapement in 2012, the commission was expecting a below-average return. Now it looks to be less than half of what was originally forecast.
Although this year’s sockeye return is the low point in the four-year migratory cycle, warm ocean and river temperatures are believed to be increasing mortality, further depressing the stocks.
“The exact reasons why the return fell at the lower end of the forecast range are unknown at this time, but poorer than average marine survival is a leading candidate,” the commission report states with its final in-season estimates.
River temperature on Aug. 18 was measured at 20.6 C, which was 2.5 C higher than average for that date. Counted salmon have been in good shape, though.
DFO’s Environmental Watch program projects that river temperature will decrease slightly but still remain at levels near daily historic maximums.
August 24, 2016 09:20am
I believe it is time that Fisheries & Oceans Canada seriously consider what kind of negative impact a high volume of water being taken from Kamloops Lake would have on the ecosystem of the Fraser River.