This is getting into dangerous territory; yet, I’m sure there’s more to the story; I hope there’s more to this Globe and Mail story:
“Band says there are plenty of sockeye – and they will fish when their elder gives go-ahead.”
…The Sto:lo have been refused federal licences to catch the first wave of sockeye, the so-called early Stuart salmon, that have returned to the river this week on their way to their spawning grounds. Despite the healthy numbers, federal fisheries officials say the run size has to be around twice as large before fishing can be allowed.
Here is one of those rare times when I agree somewhat with federal fisheries officials (just the “run size has to be around twice as large before fishing can be allowed”).
Pre-season estimates (often wildly inaccurate) suggested a total run of 41,000. Those have been updated to suggest a total run size of 110,000. Significantly less than this will actually reach the spawning grounds a thousand kilometres upstream or so.
The historic average on the Early Stuart sockeye run is well over 200,000.
Those sorts of numbers have not been seen in a long time, and people up and down the river and in the approach areas have laid off these early fish for over a decade now. These early Stuarts spawn in the far upper reaches of the Fraser River, past Ft. St. James north of Vanderhoof (the geographic centre of B.C.). They have a long journey through ever increasing water temperatures, city and pulp mill effluent.
First Nation groups in the upper Fraser that once depended on these runs have been able to take very little of a once vital and predictable annual food source.
The issue certainly is not the licenses; it’s the fact that absolutely as many sockeye in these runs have to get onto the spawning grounds, especially at current productivity levels for sockeye in the Fraser and predictions of hot water in the river to come.
However, as mentioned there is probably more to the story… however, it doesn’t do many favors for the Sto:lo as evidence in some of the comment string to the article.
It’s also the continued story of a brutal last 150 years of history – especially for Fraser River sockeye.