Thursday, July 07, 2011

Skeena Sockeye faltering..??

With the Skeena sockeye numbers faltering a bit lately it is very reminiscent of 2010...and a few other recent years. DFO's initial predictions, based on numerous stock assessment techniques, were for 1.7M sockeye to return to Skeena. This has subsequently been lowered to 1.5M and now as of July 5th the forecast if for 1.4M
The magic number is 1,050,000...that is what is required for escapement and FSC (First Nation food fish) purposes. Anything over this number is deemed harvestable surplus.The latest Tyee sockeye numbers to July 6th are not that strong with the Index at 157.36 compared to the 2000's Average of 278.58.

Seems strange to hope for a weak return of sockeye, but really the only thing that has helped Skeena steelhead over these past few years is directly attributable to low sockeye numbers. No measures implemented by DFO come close to helping steelhead to any degree like the sheer absence of sockeye for gillnetters and seiners to fish for.
If a large Skeena sockeye return occurred this season you could bet DFO would be all over it with numerous commercial openings just like they did in the Fraser last summer.
And since the gillnetters have fought hard against being forced into using their so-called 'selective measures' of short set/short net unless there is a conservation concern, the damage inflicted would be substantial. The 'selective gillnet' situation is one issue where DFO has totally caved to commercial fishery pressure for 2011.

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