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 recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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