There may be some big decisions today on the morning conference call of the Pacific Salmon Commission. The Fraser River sockeye “Early Summer” group may get a further upgrade in the in-season run size forecast (still an elaborate estimate). If this happens, then more commercial fisheries at the mouth could open to hit these fish.
At this point in time, DFO estimates they have caught 25-30% of the Early Summer run already (approx. 400,000 sockeye). The goal for the year was 25% to protect some stocks within the group.
Fraser River temps are forecast to go above 20 degrees C this coming week and may even peak out at over 21 degrees C. This is deadly for migrating sockeye. But now, of course, lots of folks are “questioning” the models for the river forecasts — however, at the same time weather forecasts are calling for temps peaking at 32 degrees C around Prince George in coming days. I don’t even want to know what this means for places like Kamloops and the Fraser Canyon…
At these temps – the Management Adjustments (MA) – which is a percentage of ‘protection’ given to stock groups (e.g. Early Summers, Summers, etc.) to protect their migration could reach 100%. On the Early Summers it currently sits at about 84%. If the MA goes to 100% (1.0) then no more fishing for Early Summers as every fish needs to get a chance at swimming upstream.
So if the in-season forecast jumps today, that means the 25% allotted catch on Early Summers will also go up. For example if the run size forecast goes from 1.6 million to 2.0 million this potentially means 25% x 400,000 = 100,000 could be available for catch. But then, if the MA goes up to 1.0 (100%) none of these are available for catch.
100,000 sockeye at say $0.90 to $1.00 per pound (little over $1/lb in Alaska this year) — maybe say an average of 5 lb fish. Let’s say approx. $5 per sockeye then. That’s in the neighborhood of $500,000 of gross revenues to fisherfolks. Add in the value-added processes… etc. etc.
And what we have is a classic debate this morning — between fisheries managers — of economic returns or environmental returns — in a literal sense.
($$) vs. (precautionary approach)
Who do you think will win?