Hupacasath FN closes fishing on the Somass River due to low salmon numbers

The Hupacasath First Nation and the Tseshaht First Nation have voluntarily ceased fishing the Somass River.

The Hupacasath First Nation has closed communal fishing on the Somass River due to low salmon numbers, says councillor Jolleen Dick.

The Tseshaht First Nation has also joined in shutting down the communal fishery on the river, she said, and the recreational fishery will be closed on the river as well.

“Hupacasath First Nation has been concerned about the escapement and well-being of the fish in their waterways and advocated that fishing in the river be closed,” she said.

“We’ve minimized how much we’ve fished in the river and for communal fisheries we’ve advocated stopping fishing the river.”

In the Hupacasath’s last communal fish plan they compromised and reduced their allowable catch by 2,000 fish to encourage sustainability of the resource.

Escapement estimates through the Sproat and Stamp Falls fish ladders are well below the expected target of 80,000 through June 24, based on forecasted run size.

The total escapement estimate up the Somass River system is 46,668 through June 23, Dick noted.

Rising temperatures in the Alberni Valley have affected river temperatures too, with daily temperatures in Sproat River reaching 23.8 degrees Celsius and 22.3 degrees at Stamp Falls. “These extreme water temperatures are nearing the lethal limit for salmon,” Dick noted.

Dry weather also means river levels are low too, which threatens fish escapement.

Fishery stakeholders meet every Thursday for round table discussions on the Alberni Inlet salmon fishery and bulletins are issued on Fridays for the next week’s activities.

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