Pacific Salmon Commission Boosts Pink Salmon Forecast for Fraser River

Pink salmon. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.

The Pacific Salmon Commission in Vancouver, BC has adopted an increased pink salmon run size forecast of 8.57 million fish, citing the numbers of humpies caught in marine test fisheries as evidence that pink salmon abundances are grater that the pre-season forecast of 6.1 million fish.

The commission said this past week that the early timing of pink salmon this year is in line with the trend in recent years toward earlier migration timing increasing the overlap between sockeye and pink salmon migration.

This increases the difficulty to access international total allowable catch for pink salmon while minimizing the impacts on sockeye salmon. To date, 31,500 pink salmon were observed migrating past Mission, on the north bank of the Fraser River.

Commission staff presented analyses to its panel indicating that the Fraser River pink salmon run size was larger than earlier anticipated and the panel adopted an updated run size of 17 million Fraser pink salmon.

Visual surveys for the Early Stuart spawning escapement assessment program began July 23 and most sockeyes are past peak of spawn and in many tributaries are past peak die off. Low water conditions are still present throughout the system, but water temperatures in all creeks have remained favorable for spawning, the commission’s latest report said.

The sockeyes continue to appear vigorous and healthy, according to the report.

The Canadian Press has reported that some indigenous leaders and environmentalists suggest a link between the increase in pink salmon and the recent closure of the open-net farms in the Discovery Islands.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, which represents most of the province’s open-net operators, countered that pink salmon numbers were also reportedly high in Alaska, Washington and the Atlantic Ocean, the Canadian Press has reported.