Sockeye return estimate on Skeena nearly triples

First open commercial fishing for wild B.C. sockeye on the Skeena River 2018 began July 24

Despite closures and limitations on sockeye fishing on the Skeena River, salmon numbers have reached a level where the fishery has opened — at least temporarily — this week.

After an early closure for last year’s sockeye commercial fishing season, including limitations for food fishing, the 2018 season opened on the Skeena River on July 24 and 25.

“The happy news is that we’ve got almost triple the escapement on the Skeena than we thought we would have. So we are going fishing tomorrow for sockeye,” councillor Joy Thorkelson said at the Prince Rupert council meeting on July 23.

Commercial fishery

Colin Masson, North Coast area director for Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), said the midpoint for sockeye return this year was originally 520,000. The current estimate is 1.34 million as of July 25. If the run is late this year, as Masson said is likely, the return estimate may get even higher.

Masson said 60 gillnetters took to the water on the first day, with more than 70 fishing sockeye on July 25.

“We wanted to be sure it was a precautionary kind of fishery,” Masson said. “If there had been a large gillnet fleet, we would have been much more concerned about opening it up. A second day would have been after reviewing the catch data.”

DFO will analyze the results from today’s fishing and continue to keep an eye on the Tyee Test results.

Commercial fishing may open again in the first week of August, with short nets and short sets to reduce bycatch.

READ MORE: DFO contemplating sweeping North Coast salmon fishery closure

Food, social and ceremonial fishery

While food, social and ceremonial (FSC) fish for First Nations has been open throughout the season, the North Coast DFO area director said that many Indigenous fishers have been holding off until the estimated return in the Skeena was over 600,000.

“The effect of that is appreciated and supported. The First Nations Technical Committee and leadership took it upon themselves to limit or eliminate their FSC fishery until they were sure there was sufficient fish coming into the system and that was a very respected measure on their part.”

In a call with First Nations leaders last week, Masson said DFO encouraged them to continue to harvest or open their harvest, with the sockeye returns well above 600,000 at that point.

Recreational

The trigger for the recreational sockeye fishery is set at 800,000 past the Tyee Test Fishery.

“We may reach that point in the not-too-distant future,” Masson said.

The recreational fishing of coho and pink is anticipated to open toward the end of the first week of August. Masson said DFO is considering timing that opening with the recreational fishing of sockeye. Specific areas of the Skeena, where chinook are known to hold, may be limited to eliminate bycatch.

“It wouldn’t be a cart-blanche opening through the entire watershed for coho and pinks, but limited to certain areas to ensure the chinook are left alone. One of the thoughts at this point, although we haven’t finalized that, is maybe that’s an opportune time to open for sockeye so that would make it a consistent approach for recreational fishing,” he said.

“The commercial fishery is on, the food fishery is fine,” Thorkelson said. “It’s a happy day for Prince Rupert. The Skeena is looking very healthy right now.”

2018 sockeye returns on the Skeena River
Infogram

READ MORE: Salmon closures a devastating blow to North Coast business



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

DFOFisheries and Oceans Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Screen shot of a cabin somewhere in the Bulkley Valley from rare 1955 film footage of the area.
VIDEO: More rare film footage of the Bulkley Valley in 1955

Can you help identify the locations and/or people in these videos

Shea Long roosts in the Shoot Out in the Telkwa Range. (SnoRiders, Houston/Shea Long photo)
Telkwa Range snowmobiling permit lottery opens

Application period is Oct. 20 to Nov. 20 for snowmobiliers and skiers to gain access to Starr Basin

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read