National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



It's nice to head into the weekend sharing a little good news. Looks like Washington and British Columbia fishermen are enjoying an unexpected bonanza of salmon returning to the Fraser River.

Word is that an estimated 25 million sockeyes have returned — more than double preseason predictions. It's being touted as the biggest Fraser River run seen since 1913 when 40 million sockeyes showed up.

The run, it's said, will yield a harvest of some 11 million salmon. Processors have all they can handle to try and keep up with all the fish. For once, a healthy return of reds should put fishermen in the black.

A stellar 2006 year class is driving the big return, officials say. However, biologists add that salmon fishermen shouldn't expect similar abundance in the following years. Fraser returns, they say, will be much smaller.

Then again, who knows? Last year it was predicted 10 million sockeyes would return to the Fraser. Instead, an underwhelming total of less than 2 million fish graced the river. Despite all our knowledge about biology, habitat, ecosystems, and more, the science of predicting how many fish will show up in a given year remains a tricky business — and maddeningly so for biologists, fishery managers and fishermen alike.

In the meantime, long suffering Fraser River fishermen are more than entitled to live in the moment and enjoy a season to remember.

Inside the Industry

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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