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Taku River may see record low chinook salmon return

Fisheries authorities say this year's return of chinook salmon in the Taku River could fall below the record low.

Authorities say later run of sockeye salmon could be above average

Fisheries authorities say this year's return of chinook salmon in the Taku River could fall below the record low. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The Taku River in northern B.C. may be facing its worst-ever return of chinook salmon.

Reports from Juneau show just 12,000 Taku River chinook salmon are expected to make it to their Canadian spawning grounds this year, well below their goal of at least 19,000, and just a fraction of the average return of 42,000 chinook.

"If it continues to track in this manner it could either fall below or be very close to our record low," said Steve Gotch, the Yukon area director for Fisheries and Oceans. 

"I should emphasize that we estimate that over 80 per cent of the return has arrived in the river so we don't anticipate that this low estimate will change significantly over the next week or two."

Taku River salmon are a major source of fish for Tlingit First Nations people in Atlin and Teslin.

On the bright side, Gotch says the later run of sockeye salmon on the Taku is expected to be above average this year.

As for the Yukon River, Gotch says management plans for the chinook run will be based on numbers as they show up at the Eagle sonar station at the Canada-U.S. border.

With files from Vic Istchenko

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