“2010 was the year of the sockeye”

Stellaquo River -- Upper Fraser

So says one of the headlines in the Globe and Mail by columnist Alexandra Gill, the West coast restaurant critic.

In some ways, I suppose she might be right… If one lives in Vancouver and figures that much of the world revolves around that perceived epicentre; well… then… it could appear that maybe 2010 was the year of the sockeye in some regards.

Her column suggests:

Fishy sockeye stocks

After collapsing last year, the Fraser River sockeye stocks rebounded in record-breaking numbers. With an estimated 34 million fish returning to the river system, it was the biggest run in nearly a century – and arguably the most important Canadian food story of 2010.

The harvest was so plentiful, this former luxury ingredient is now being fried up as curbside fish and chips… Feast on this sweet, brilliant-red delicacy while you can because the still-perilous fishery isn’t out of hot water yet. The Cohen commission is studying the mystery and will present its findings later this year.

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The great thing with mainstream media and columnists is that with a careful read, one might get an inner glimpse of what the mainstream is thinking on some issue. Further glimpses when one reads commentary on articles…

As I suggested in a comment left on this particular article: SOMEBODY PLEASE let the media know that the Fraser sockeye run this year was NOT 35 million.

Current estimates suggest more like 28 million.

That’s a 20% reduction from initial in-season estimates — which are the ones that guide fishery decisions!

Also as left in the commentary: how would you feel if you were a retired individual starting to take some of the proceeds out of your various investments — e.g., Registered Retired Savings Plan (RRSP) — and your investment advisor came back to you and suggested:

“gee Clive… I’m sorry, you know that initial investment return that I quoted you… well… er… umm… we need to scale ‘er back by 20% now. We sort of messed up over there at our estimating facility…”

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Also really important for folks to know that the bulk of this ‘record’ run was comprised of one stock grouping in the Adams River (Kamloops) area. A stock that is also very susceptible to die-offs during periods of hot weather and warm water.

So, for example, four years from now when the progeny from this record run returns to the river — if it’s a hot, dry summer coupled with a low snow pack year (you know, like some of the common predictions of climate change) then the Adams stocks could get blitzed and all of a sudden were back into the same situation.

And… as continually pointed out by many folks, it was far from a record year in the upper reaches of the Fraser River. It was anything but average — which these days, ain’t that great.

As simple physics teaches us — everything upstream; flows downstream… can’t escape gravity.

Lastly… it wasn’t such a record year in the rest of BC for sockeye. Yes, decent in some areas, but far from record-breaking.

Yes, the Fraser is an important sockeye run in BC and yes, it does flow past Vancouver and yes, the returning sockeye do swim near Victoria (the capital city) — however, most certainly not the only sockeye stock in the province.

Things weren’t so rosy in other places — there are still other sockeye stocks in deep shit.

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Plus, 2010 wasn’t the year of the sockeye, it was the year of the Tiger…

And 2011 is the year of the bunny. (if one was curious)

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