Optimism over an expected bumper season for wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia has turned to distress.
A regulatory body’s pre-season estimate of 9.8-million returning fish went down to 5.5 million this week.
That’s prompted environmentalists and fishers alike to express concern, with one advocate calling the updated number “disturbingly bad.”
Greg Taylor with Watershed Watch Salmon Society says hopes were high for the sockeye run this year.
He says that’s in part because the fish return to spawn in the Fraser River on a four-year cycle, with 2022 being one of the expected peak years.
Taylor says the small runs are a concerning anomaly that may point to the impact of human activity.
In addition to conservation concerns, the new, lower figure suggests the sockeye fishery in B.C. waters is unlikely to open this year.
That creates what one commercial fishers’ union says are dire circumstances for its members.