Monday, August 1, 2011
Thompson Steelhead Hit Record Low Number
With spawner escapement estimates in for the 2010 run year, returns are looking disconcertingly poor for the Thompson River and other summer run stocks in Chilcotin Region. All stocks were at or near record low abundance this past year as numbers continue to slide, despite aggressive efforts to curb bycatch and severely limited sport fishing opportunity. Throughout the 1980's bycatch often took in excess of 50% of the Thompson-Chilcotin run, yet the population remained fairly productive. However beginning in the mid-1990s bycatch of steelhead in Fraser River salmon fisheries was curbed sharply. Since then the productivity of the stocks has continued to slide.
The Thompson's woes are a reflection of the generally poor survival trends for steelhead throughout the Georgia Basin. Over the last 5 years many rivers in the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin have seen record low steelhead abundance. Poor early marine survival is thought to be a major driver of these declines, yet our understanding of the factors associated with poor steelhead survival in the sound remains dismal. More information in the Thompson Fisheries Blog: