Black Press file photo

Black Press file photo

Sockeye salmon return low in B.C. despite federal response

Cohen commission was launched after the fish’s near disappearance in the Fraser River system in 2009

The federal government says it has implemented most recommendations from a 2012 report aimed at revitalizing B.C.’s Fraser River sockeye salmon run, but the outlook for the species remains murky.

The Cohen commission was launched by the federal government after the near disappearance of the sockeye salmon run in the Fraser River system in 2009. Former B.C. Supreme Court judge Bruce Cohen made 75 suggestions for change, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada said Thursday it has acted on 64 of the recommendations.

Despite these efforts, officials say only 1.5 million salmon have returned to the Fraser River this year, well below the 4.4 million forecasted.

Sockeye salmon return on a four-year cycle, and the 2017 run is based on the previous returns from 2013 and 2009. The lowest return every recorded was in 2016 when just 850,000 sockeye came back.

Jennifer Nener, director of the department’s salmon management, said warmer temperatures in the Pacific Ocean may be largely to blame for poor salmon returns this year.

“We had very warm ocean conditions several degrees above average for a couple of years and that affected the whole food chain for salmon and everything else out there as well,” she said. ”What we suspect is that salmon have been affected by the availability of food when they get out into the ocean environment, so we’ve seen returns below expectations.”

She said the government has been conservative in the number of fish that can be caught in response to the low returns, but only time will tell if the government’s efforts will restore stocks in the long term.

“We have really, I would say, implemented more precautionary measures than ever before,” she said. “Obviously ocean temps are not something within our realm of control. What we can do is manage to the best of our ability to improve the survival of sockeye overall and other salmon species as well.”

Cohen’s recommendations included improving harvest and fisheries management, protecting habitat, assessing fish health and researching the implications of aqua culture and climate change on wild salmon.

Plans to implement a new wild salmon policy are also in the works and officials said consultations with First Nations and the public are expected to take place this fall.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Construction takes place on Bamfield Main in early February 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY CTV NEWS)
Closures planned for Bamfield Road

Construction by Mosaic unrelated to $30M upgrade

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Alberni Valley’s Emergency Operations Centre is located around the corner and below the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District office. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District tests new mobile alert system

Residents can still sign up for free Voyent Alert! emergency messaging

Crews respond to a structure fire in the 6000 block of Renton Road in Cherry Creek on Saturday, Feb. 27. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Workshop destroyed in Cherry Creek fire

Crews stayed on scene overnight fighting ‘stubborn’ blaze

(NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Tax error in 2020 means lower rate for residents in 2021

Alberni’s taxation for regional library accidently written down twice

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

The south coast of B.C. as capture by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. (European Space Agency)
VIDEO: Images of B.C.’s south coast from space released by European Space Agency

The satellite images focus on a variety of the region’s landmarks

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Oshawa Generals forward Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots and scores his team’s first goal against Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle during second period action at the Memorial Cup final in Quebec City on Sunday, May 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

League includes Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Nelson society raises $400K to save regional park from logging project

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

Most Read