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

Just Posted

Watercolours by late Chilliwack artist to be unveiled at Yarrow Library

The public is invited to a special unveiling of three of Heinz Klassen’s watercolour paintings

Yarrow Library one of the stops on Cubetto’s grand tour

FVRL’s friendly wooden robot, Cubetto, travels throughout Fraser Valley to teach programming basics

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

Chilliwack students take the lead as mental health advocates

About 100 Chilliwack youth prepped to make a difference during Mental Health Week

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read