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

#MeToo at work: B.C. women share horrifyingly common sexual assaults

It happens to more people than you might think and impacts women inside and outside of the workplace

Pooch poop banned from Abbotsford’s trash cans, but dog walkers say no alternative

Rules mean people should technically take home poop after they pick it up

Abbotsford man charged with two child porn offences

Investigation against Jeremy Allen Willms, 42, began in April

UFV and union headed to labour relations board

Union says it’s facing ‘extraordinary’ challenges

VIDEO: JRfm’s Holiday Fun Day sets up shop again at Langley Events Centre

Great music accompanies family fun as JRfm raises diapers and donations for Basics for Babies.

SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford Police City Basketball Tournament – Wednesday

Action from day one at the city-wide basketball event

Disney buying part of 21st Century Fox in $52.4B deal

Disney is buying a large part of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion

Bountiful polygamist believed he couldn’t be prosecuted: lawyer

Winston Blackmore’s lawyer says Blackmore did not believe he could be prosecuted

Woman charged after altercation injured baby in Toronto

Charges have been laid after a four-month-old baby girl was critically injured in Toronto

Anderson extends invitation to Liberal voters

Interim B.C. Conservative party leader invites “disenfranchised Liberal voters” to join his party

5 to start your day

Women share stories of workplace sexual assault, colds and flus keep Maple Ridge kids home and more

Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil announces retirement

Veteran Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil spent 15 seasons with the NHL team

Trudeau’s office confirms staffer being probed over allegations

PMO confirms staffer being probed over allegations of reported “inappropriate behaviour.”

Police kill gunman north of Toronto

Police shot and killed a gunman during a hostage situation at a bank north of Toronto

Most Read