February 15, 2016 - 11:30 AM
SHUSWAP - Fisheries experts aren’t speculating on what caused it, but the recent sockeye salmon return to the Adams River in the Shuswap was the lowest on record for decades.
Stu Cartwright, the acting director for the B.C. Interior with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, says the last time the return numbers were so low was in the 1930s.
"At this point we’re hoping science is going to guide us in better understanding of what the challenges are,” Cartwright says.
He says each salmon run is the product of a four-year cycle. The number of fish from the 2011 brood year was around 165,000, about half of the normal cycle average of around 310,700. The sockeye return to the Adams last year was around 9,700.
"That means the adults that came back from the 2011 year that spawned and the juveniles that hatched, emerged and migrated out to sea. What we got back — 9,700 — is only six per cent of what was a brood year of 165,000,” he says.
Cartwright says fisheries experts plan to analyze what caused the low return, but aren’t sounding the panic alarm yet as they work to determine the cause and effect of the numbers. Environmental change, water temperatures, habitat, predators and food supply are some areas to be investigated.
On Vancouver Island, fish returns numbers to the Barkley Sound and Somass River were "almost off the charts" he says, but hesitates to comment on whether the two extremes are linked.
"To fully understand, that’s why we’re not going to speculate on what might be the causes because the sockeye salmon came back very strong in one area and in another area came very very weak. We’ve got to better understand what’s at play here,” he says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016