Salmon numbers in B.C. show shocking drop

Click to play video: 'Fraser River sockeye run predicted to be lowest in 120 years'
Fraser River sockeye run predicted to be lowest in 120 years
The sockeye salmon run in the Fraser River was initially supposed to be 2.3 million fish. Now that number is closer to 850,000. Aaron McArthur has more on who that will affect those who depend on the fish for their livelihood – Aug 22, 2016

New figures indicate this year’s Fraser River sockeye run to be the lowest in more than 120 years.

The initial prediction by the Pacific Salmon Commission was almost 2.3 million fish, but that number is now expected to be closer to 850,000.

As a result, the commission has banned all salmon fishing on the lower Fraser River and its tributaries.

But some think the blanket ban is unfair.

READ MORE: Lowest sockeye run prompts fishery closures on lower Fraser River

“Now you are hurting my business, my staff, and people that are working for a living for no reason at all,” says Dan Gerak with Pitt River Lodge.

But the commission says the ban was the only option. They say salt-water fishing had already been banned.

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Guides along the Fraser River say sturgeon fishing is the only thing helping them stay afloat.

“Eighty per cent of them when I tell them salmon is closed and I say there’s an option of doing sturgeon and I show them the photos they say ‘OK, let’s do it,'” says Lang Nguyen of Lang’s Fishing Adventures.

READ MORE: Cohen report on B.C. sockeye salmon may see action

“But then the other 20 per cent say ‘you know what, we’re not really into the catch and release.'”

With water temperatures and levels hovering around average for this time of year, no one is expecting things to change.

“So many fish have already migrated it’s highly unlikely that we will see any sort of late, or unexpected surge in sockeye that would justify an opening,” says John Field, with the Pacific Salmon Commission.

Even though trout and steelhead are also open, local guides say the lifeblood of the river won’t likely be open again until at least next year.

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