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

Town of Qualicum Beach to sell more than $5M in real estate

Sales to pay for recent real estate purchases, including St. Andrews Lodge

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Living with obsessive compulsive disorder

The Big Read: Vancouver Island mom calls for more mental health services as son battles OCD

Parksville councillor says info more ‘forthcoming’ in the future on supportive housing project

Leanne Salter said she was ‘kept in the dark’ on details about 222 Corfield St. South

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Canadian soccer fans brace for World Cup final between France, Croatia

First ever final for the Croatians, while it’s France’s third, going into match as betting favourite

Most Read