Last year’s surprisingly copious run of 34.5 million sockeye salmon in the Fraser River is not expected to be repeated until 2014. Estimates for 2011, in contrast, are low.
“I expect we will see between three and five million sockeye this summer,” said Pacific Salmon Commission biologist Mike Lapointe.
This will leave commercial fishers with little if any sockeye. Lapointe expects fishing will be heavily restricted in the 2011 season to safeguard the threatened stocks, particularly early running sockeye swimming toward Stuart Lake and late running fish en route for Cultus Lake, reports BCLocalNews.
“It will be nothing in the way of what we had last year,” he said. “I think people are pretty realistic.”
Sockeye return estimates are disclosed every spring in the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
The species has a four-year life cycle, so 2011’s returns can partly be predicted by looking at how many fish reproduced in 2007. Not until 2014, therefore, are returns forecasted to boom once again.
“Returns were low in 2007 with only 1.5 million fish and 900,000 spawners, so expectations are low,” Lapointe explained, reports Vancouver Sun. “We expect about 3.2 million sockeye based on the recent productivity scenario and about 4.6 million based on the long-term average.”