Friday, June 26, 2009

Skeena Stld and Commercial Fishing Timing

Here is an interesting graph. It is the run timing of the various Skeena steelhead runs overlaid on the commercial fishing season timing and average sockeye run timing.
As mentioned in an earlier post, the timing of Skeena marine commercial fishing has been altered over the last few years. With concerns over the early returning depressed Nanika river sockeye the start of fishing in Skeena has been delayed up to around the mid-July time frame. And because of concerns over the Kitwanga and Slamgeesh sockeye stocks, coho, and steelhead, fishing has been curtailed after about the first week of August.(2006 being a notable exception) And while there have been reductions in the overall sockeye catch numbers, there is still a large amount of sockeye to be caught in what is now a short period of time. This makes for some very high weekly exploitation rates with associated bycatch implications for steelhead.

As you can see on the graph, this makes for a short but intense marine commercial fishing season which is overlaid mostly on the early returning component of the steelhead run. Some very early returning steelhead are not impacted but the September component of fish continue to get exposed to severe commercial fishing pressure while the later runs are not impacted too much ( but dont forget Alaska, First Nations food fisheries, the in-river commercial fishery, and the sport mortality though)

Now, we are not suggesting lengthening the commercial season at either end to ameliorate these effects. We are just pointing out how management concerns mostly for wild sockeye stocks impact upon steelhead. In future posts we'll examine the sometimes extremely high weekly harvest rates associated with this condensed season.

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