bc-090909-sockeye

Sockeye salmon runs have been very difficult to predict in the past ten years and a salmon advocacy society says caution should be exercised in fishing even in this bonanza year. ((CBC))

A conservation group is warning against allowing too much fishing of sockeye salmon on the Fraser River despite expectations that this year's run will be one of the biggest in 100 years.

People should remember sockeye runs in recent years have been extremely low for reasons not yet understood and the federal government's salmon policy makes conservation its highest priority, The Watershed Watch Salmon Society said Wednesday.

Society director Craig Orr said in a release headlined, "Don't succumb to sockeye fever," that most of this year's sockeye are from one place — the Adams River — while stocks from many other sources are severely depleted.

"We should all rejoice in this year's bounty, but remember that returns of Fraser River sockeye in this decade have been extremely low for reasons not yet understood," said Orr.

Environmentalist Vicky Husband, an advisor to Watershed Watch, said the future of the whole fishery ecosystem has to be taken into account.

"We've endured a century of over-fishing and collapse of smaller sockeye populations," said Husband.

Some commercial fishermen and fish experts are calling for the federal government to allow bigger catches of this year's run after estimates the salmon count could reach 34 million fish.