Pink salmon beating sockeye in B.C.
Is it too soon to change B.C.’s iconic fish from the sockeye to the pink?
Probably, but we should be prepared nonetheless as evidence mounts that the phenomenal and persistent abundance of pink salmon is putting real pressure on other Pacific salmon and even sea birds that share the same food resources.
“We’ve certainly seen here on the South Coast big returns, in odd years, of the pink salmon,” said Brendan Connors, senior systems ecologist at ESSA Technologies and adjunct professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University.
“In general across the northeast Pacific, we’ve seen dramatic increases in the amount of pink salmon and that has coincided with fairly broad patterns of decline in sockeye.”
Local observations bring that trend into sharp relief. Pink returns to the Fraser averaged about five million fish through the ’60s and ’70s, but began to take off in the ’80s before settling in at an average of 15 million returns in peak years during the past decade.