Lower-than-hoped returns of Fraser River sockeye and dangerously hot water temperatures upstream have prompted fishery managers to curtail test fishing in a bid to let as many salmon spawn as possible.
About 82,000 sockeye have already been caught through test fisheries and those salmon are sold to help offset the $1.4-million cost of the test program, which is critical to gauging the strength of incoming runs.
Pacific Salmon Commission chief biologist Mike Lapointe said Wednesday about half of test fishing operations have now been cancelled.
And three seine boats that continue to test fish offshore are now ordered to release nearly all sockeye after counting them instead of harvesting them.
"We're trying to be good citizens and minimize our impact," Lapointe said.
Asked why test fishing wasn't adjusted earlier, he said the commission acted quickly once it became apparent continued hot, dry weather would pose a major risk.
"As soon as we knew we had a bad situation we acted as fast as we could," Lapointe said. "Ideally, in perfect hindsight, it would have been nice if we could have stopped sooner but there was no way for us to anticipate that."
Although the test fishing program is $200,000 short of the revenue to cover its expenses, Lapointe said conservation, not budget concerns, guided the timing of the decision.
Read the full story at the Surrey Leader>>
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