How many other places — other than the Adams River — does this sign apply?
As mentioned in posts last week — the Stellaquo River in the upper Fraser — sure as hell isn’t breaking any records this year.
Nor is the Early Stuart group of Fraser sockeye, or many other stocks, groups, or conservation units as some like to call these “groupings”. (the only reason for the grouping is for fisheries management purposes).
Emails are beginning to fly around now from local folks who know these runs: Where the hell are these apparent 35 million Fraser sockeye?
And meanwhile not a peep out of mass media…
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The upper Fraser is experiencing far from any “historic records” — however, this could be seen in the pre-season predictions, and even the daily adjusting in-season forecasts. The in-season compared to pre-season predictions on the Early Summer run was a difference of about 4.7 times or so. On the Summers, about 2.5 times more predicted by in-season forecasts as compared to pre-season forecasts (the 50 percent probability forecasts).
It is these two “Groups” of Fraser sockeye that saw the early commercial fishing bonanza. Then the Late Summer in-season forecasts starting coming in and folks went nuts.
And some went so far as to recommend harvesting 80% of the run — otherwise fish would be “wasted.”
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By the end of the Pacific Salmon Commission teleconference calls in mid-September the total Fraser sockeye run was predicted to be 35.4 million. The media headlines and stories painted the picture of a bonanza “not seen in 100 years.”
(I don’t quite buy that story, but so be it… see earlier posts on estimated historic Fraser sockeye runs)
On the Commission’s last distribution the approximate number of Fraser sockeye past Mission in the lower Fraser (11.5 million) or caught in commercial (approx. 10 million) and First Nation (approx. 1.2 million) fisheries was a little under 24 million — suggesting another 10 million were still due to swim upstream and were most likely holding in the Strait of Georgia.
Well… we’re now approaching one month since that last report. If you go to the Commission website and download the latest Excel spreadsheet showing the latest In-Season Fraser River Escapement Reports — there’s a problem (at least to my eyes).
Total estimates past Mission are now 16.3 million (as of Oct. 4th). This is only a 5 million increase from mid-Sept. Added that the first few days of October saw ZERO sockeye past the hydroacoustic equipment.
The last big day was 100,000 on September 27th, then 67,000 the next day, then 12,000 and then 4,000 and then big fat zero.
Latest cumulative total past Mission = approx. 16.3 million.
Add this to the total estimated catch of 12.7 million and we have a potential total run size of 29 million.
Where are the other predicted 5 – 6 million Fraser sockeye?
Let me guess… the seals ate them.
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Some folks might ponder: “what does it matter, with a run this big… 5-6 million sockeye missing, don’t sweat it dude.”
Well… first, 5 to 6 million is about half the total run size that was originally predicted in pre-season forecasts (at least the 50 percent probability forecast). We know what happens when far less fish then forecast show up: public inquiries, and judicial appointments, and millions of dollars and lengthy reports, and big lawyers bills…
The other problem is when pre-eminent fisheries scientists are in numerous media stories and outlets advocating for a 80% of total run size harvest.
If we take the in-season estimate of 34.5 million and hypothetically take off an 80% harvest — what are we left with?
Well… that suggests a harvest of almost 28 million fish.
Hmmm… at current run size numbers, if we had gone with that scenario this year we’d have about as many sockeye as last year heading towards the spawning grounds: in the neighborhood of 1 million.
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Regardless… could someone please tell me where the other 5 to 6 million fish are?
And remember, this is all just forecasting, estimating, and guesstimating… we still need the on-the-ground actual counts and estimates of spawners on the spawning grounds.
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Dear Justice Cohen,
Is it not time for a fundamental re-structuring of how this game works?
And could you please ask DFO and the Pacific Salmon Commission where the other 5 -6 million sockeye are this year?