Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Judicial Inquiry into Fraser Collapse Underway

Judicial inquiry into last years catastrophically poor sockeye returns on the Fraser got underway last week in Vancouver. Fraser Sockeye have been declining fairly steadily over the last two decades. While many seek to blame a single culprit, declining sockeye runs on the Fraser are the product of a changing climate, changes in ocean productivity, high prespawn mortality in some components of the Fraser sockeye stock and in all likelihood the proliferation of salmon farms in the Georgia Basin.

Most contentious among the potential factors is the role being played by the multimillion dollar salmon farming industry, most of which is owned by Norwegian multinational corporations. The industry has repeatedly denied its impact on Fraser sockeye, however farms have been shown to dramatically increase the density of sea lice a parasite capable of killing juvenile salmon. Salmon farms have been implicated in huge declines of pink and chum salmon in the Johnstone Strait and in the Broughton Archipeligo and in some cases fallowing (removing salmon from net pens) has been used to reduce sea lice densities in the juvenile migration path.

The inquiry is expected to last for sometime, and meanwhile this summers forecast is bleak. Fewer than half of the forecasted salmon stocks in BC predicted to see returns below sustainable levels. More info in an article from the Digital Journal