Environmentalists Urge Halt to B.C. Sockeye Fishery


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
October 6, 2008

Commercial fishing in British Columbia is contributing to a decline in sockeye salmon populations unseen in other areas of the world, an environmental group contends in a report released yesterday.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature of Geneva recommends halting commercial sockeye fisheries and forgoing an artificial spawning program. The group says sockeye populations in Russia and Alaska are thriving, but B.C. stocks could soon end up on a global list for threatened and endangered species.

The IUCN says the report is based on "the largest collection of data ever assembled on salmon abundance, coming from 243 spawning locations across the Pacific Rim."

The report says sockeyes are stable globally, but 25 percent of runs into individual rivers are either threatened or endangered.

"Most of the critically endangered sockeye runs are in British Columbia, where dramatic declines have occurred in stretches of the Fraser and Skeena Rivers," the report states.

"It's a loud clarion bell indicating that we need to act right away to conserve these sockeye, which are really the economic and cultural backbone of our salmon fisheries on this coast," Craig Orr, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society in Coquitlam, B.C., told the Vancouver Sun.

Orr said B.C sockeyes are struggling with warmer river temperatures, mixed-stock fishing that causes weak runs of sockeye to be intercepted with strong ones, ongoing habitat degradation and weak conservation policies.

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