Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

August 24, 2010 22:40 ET

Fraser River Sockeye Fisheries

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 24, 2010) -

STATEMENT BY GAIL SHEA

MINISTER OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS

The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today issued the following statement:

2010 is turning out to be a banner year for Fraser River sockeye salmon, with this year's return currently set at just over 25 million fish, one of the highest returns in the last hundred years. Several fishery openings for Fraser River sockeye have already occurred in 2010 and more are planned.

Conservation and the sustainable use of salmon stocks are the Government of Canada's first priorities in the management of this fishery. With this season's abundant numbers, for the first time in four years, all sectors, including commercial, recreational and First Nations have had a chance to harvest Fraser River sockeye. Having been assured that conservation goals have been met and exceeded, we are extremely pleased that there will be even more opportunities.

Our Government has always recognized the significance and importance of this iconic fish to British Columbians and Canadians. For this reason, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the Cohen Commission of Inquiry in 2009 to take all feasible steps to improve the long-term sustainability and viability of this fishery for the benefit of all for years to come. The commission is thoroughly and actively engaged in its work to investigate all aspects of this fishery and we eagerly await its recommendations.

Our Government will continue to work with those involved in the Fraser River sockeye fishery to ensure it is sustainable, and continues to support the economies of communities in British Columbia for generations to come.

For more information about the management of Fraser River sockeye, please view the attached backgrounder.

Backgrounder

B-HQ-10-0824

MANAGEMENT OF FRASER RIVER SOCKEYE FISHERIES

August 24, 2010

Conservation and the sustainable use of salmon stocks are Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO) first priority in our management of Fraser River sockeye fisheries.

The conservation objectives for Fraser River sockeye are established during the annual integrated fisheries management planning (IFMP) process, which involves all fishing sectors, First Nations and environmental organizations. Fisheries plans are established for several possible run sizes during this pre-season planning process, to ensure that in-season fisheries management is consistent with the Pacific salmon allocation policy.

DFO only opens commercial and recreational harvest opportunities for sockeye if returns are sufficient to meet conservation objectives and provide for First Nation food, social and ceremonial (FSC) fisheries, which, under the law, have priority over all other fisheries.

The life-cycle of sockeye salmon, from egg to spawning, is approximately four years. Young sockeye may remain in their freshwater nursery lakes for a year or more before making their seaward journey. Around their fourth year of life they return to the river for spawning and make up a portion of what is referred to as the in-season run or return.

Each year, the department estimates the sockeye seasonal returns for the following season for planning purposes. Then, the Fraser River Panel of the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) sets the in-season run sizes using science-based procedures as well as information obtained from test fisheries, counting devices, fish wheels and other sources. The panel meets twice per week during the summer and fall to monitor and update the in-season run sizes and determines fisheries openings for Fraser sockeye. When the season is over, the department conducts a post-season review.

The Panel determines when and where fisheries for Fraser River sockeye will be opened based on environmental conditions such as water temperatures and flows in the river, run sizes and the advice of panel members including DFO.

The PSC was formed by the governments of Canada and the United States to implement the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Both Canada and the United States appoint four commissioners and four alternates to the PSC, representing the interests of commercial and recreational fisheries as well as federal, state and First Nations governments. Under the terms of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, the Fraser River Panel of the PSC is responsible for in-season management of fisheries that target Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon.

The Fraser River Panel of the PSC has been regularly reviewing and upgrading the run sizes of several major components of the 2010 Fraser River sockeye population. As of Tuesday, August 24, based on estimates of in-season returns, the panel set the total 2010 Fraser River sockeye return at slightly over 25 million fish which is the largest return since 1913. Migration conditions for Fraser sockeye will be monitored closely over the next several weeks and management decisions will be adjusted as appropriate. For the latest information on the run management please see: www.psc.org.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Ottawa
    Nelson Kalil
    Media Relations
    613-990-7537
    or
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Ottawa
    Nancy Bishay
    Director of Communications, Office of the Minister
    613-947-4511
    Nancy.Bishay@dfo-mpo.gc.ca