Commercial Fish Stock in Trouble North Pacific Sockeye Salmon

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All examples are based in British Columbia Salmon industries -

Commercial Fish Stock



North Pacific Sockeye Salmon


The Fraser river watershed produces more Pacific salmon than any other in the world and is one of

the most productive natural watersheds in the world. In the early 1800s, salmon were abundant along the

length of the Fraser and its tributaries. Aboriginal communities used as much salmon as they wanted

without jeopardizing the stocks. Beginning in 1930, cured salmon and other fish were exported, and the

salmon industry soon eclipsed the value of the fur trade. The industry shifted from the export of salted fish

to large-scale canning of Pacific salmon after the gold rush of 1860s. At the turn of the century, the

abundance of salmon far exceeded the industry's capacity. With what seemed to be an inexhaustible supply

of sockeye salmon, the industry give little thought to environmental or conservation concerns.

However, by

the next decade it became apparent that the supply of sockeye was limited. The number of canneries

steadily climbed and the ever-increasing efficiency within the commercial fleet had made conservation of

the sockeye stock an issue that could not be ignored.

The recent 1994 "disappearance" of 1.5 million Fraser River sockeye salmon raised new concerns

about the long term viability of the stock. American and Canadian commercial fishers accused each other of

being responsible for the missing salmon. Government agencies on both side as well as independent

fisheries management agencies such as Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) scrambled to find answers.

Some blamed the "disappearance" on adverse changes in water temperature caused by global warming,

while others suggested an inaccurate count was conducted and the missing 1.5 million salmon were a mere

discrepancy. No one knows for sure what caused the disappearance. While no single...