Once-in-a-century salmon run hits Canada’s West Coast

After years of declining sockeye numbers and a struggling fishing industry, the Pacific Salmon Commission last week said it now expects 25 million sockeye will return to the Fraser River this year — more than double its earlier forecast and the best run since 1913.

Last year, slightly more than a measly 1 million sockeye made their way back to their spawning grounds, prompting the Canadian government to close the river to commercial and recreational sockeye fishing for the third straight year…

Twenty years of declining sockeye in the Fraser River led the Canadian government to launch an investigation last year into the disappearance of the fish at a time when numerous theories abound.

These include that climate change may be reducing food supply for salmon in the ocean, and that rising temperatures in the river may have weakened the fish.

Commercial fish farms that the young Fraser River salmon pass en route to the ocean have also been blamed for infecting them with damaging sea lice, a marine parasite.

Yes, I know a few folks truly enamored of that explanation.

While consumers are enjoying cheap salmon for the first time in years — prices for fresh sockeye are down about 30 percent from a year ago — the fishing industry is struggling to cope with the sudden bounty.

“It is an amazing thing but the problem is that this has come along when the market has been lost. Now we have all this fish and we can’t do a lot with it,” said Bob Fraumeni, owner of FAS Seafood Producers, which operates a West Coast commercial fishing fleet and retail outlets.

Enjoy it when and while you can, folks.

Salmon rules! We will be watching for fresh, affordable supplies making into our neck of the prairie.

2 thoughts on “Once-in-a-century salmon run hits Canada’s West Coast

  1. Pescadero says:

    The price of salmon is now rising because of a massive sea lice epidemic https://qz.com/888169/the-price-of-salmon-is-rising-because-of-a-massive-sea-lice-epidemic/ …outbreaks weren’t a big issue prior to the advent of large-scale salmon-farming. Adult wild salmon might pick up a few sea lice in the ocean, but since freshwater kills sea lice, they shed the parasites when they return to rivers to spawn. Limited contact between adults and juveniles meant that it was harder for the parasites to spread to smolts, the term for young salmon. Industrial fish farmers, however, can’t let their fish roam free. Instead, they corral young salmon in giant nets anchored to the seafloor. That creates a captive food supply—and a prime breeding ground for sea lice. And the problem isn’t confined to farmed fish: by situating pens near key salmon habitats, the industry makes it easy for farmed and wild salmon to constantly reinfect each other.
    Commercial solution: just add pesticides, more and more pesticides and other chemicals as the sea lice evolve resistance. Meanwhile the conditions that invite sea lice seem to be on the rise. The sea lice life cycle accelerates in warmer temperatures. So it’s hardly surprising that a recent study found that unusually balmy seas helped encourage the 2015 sea lice epidemic that swept British Columbia, Canada.

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