Monday, August 24, 2009

Fraser River Sockeye Collapse

Fraser River sockeye have 4 year cycles of abundance meaning normally, every fourth year sees a particularly high return of the fish. This year was supposed to be a year of abundance with a return of close to 13 million Sockeye predicted. Instead this year has seen one of the biggest collapses of a fishery in recent memory. To date fewer than 2 million fish have returned to the huge river system prompting comparisons to the collapse of the Cod fishery in Eastern Canada, and causing alarm among BCs commercial fishermen, First Nations, and environmental groups. Many are pointing the finger at the controversial fish farming industry arguing that the high densities of sea lice, other parasites and pathogens in the migration corridor of juvenile sockeye is devastating the Fraser stock much like it did Chum and Pink salmon in the Northern Georgia Strait. While some are blaming ocean conditions for the poor returns, Sockeye Salmon in the Columbia saw record returns this year. Early marine survival is critical for the size of an adult return and it is possible that environmental conditions were highly unfavorable in the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin when these fish outmigrated in 2007. Regardless of the cause, the more than decade long trend of declining abundance in Fraser Sockeye is disturbing and needs to be addressed. The Fraser Sockeye bust is all over the news. Here are a few of the more informative artciles.

No comments: