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Salmon bloggers happy about sockeye, less so about DFO

B.C. salmon bloggers are ecstatic about the 25-million-fish Fraser River sockeye run, but keeping up their criticism of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Salmon Guy wrote:

Good news is… great to see so many fish predicted to return as a total run size, but not what will hit the spawning grounds.

Bad news is… last year pre-season forecast blown about 9 million on the high side; this year blown about 14 million on the low side (at least the median forecast — 50p… there’s lots of wiggle room on either side)

Whoooopseees. Is it science? or is it guess-timate?

Meanwhile biologist Alexandra Morton praised the run as "legendary":

There are so many 2010 sockeye it is hard to find canning jars, the Vancouver processing plants are shipping some fish north to create hundreds of jobs in Prince Rupert. Little fishing communities like Sointula are alive with optimism, smiles, energy, money! First Nation people whose bodies have come to depend on salmon after 8000 years together will be nourished after several years of no salmon.

The growth rings on millions of trees will be broad, marking the legendary run of 2010, it will be a bandwidth scientists will use as a reference point for the next 100 years. As leaves and new needles stretch out next spring they will absorb record amounts of carbon and produce pure clean oxygen. We don't pay for the trees to do this, but they do it anyway and the people on this side of the planet will breath air made by trees that absorbed the 2010 sockeye into their roots.

Morton went on to say: "The agency we pay to manage our fish, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is running blind."

This is inexcusable. We pay their bill and we can demand better service. Fisheries Minister, Gail Shea, was quoted recently saying Mother Nature is in charge….as she hands out money to the Norwegian salmon farming industry to make a sea lice vaccine to fight the drug resistant lice that DFO told me all winter do not exist. Wrong Ms. Shea, you are in charge of caring for these fish.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada should not be investing public funds into privately operated fish feedlots when their mandate is wild fish. We have an extremely damaged run now growing a new generation in the lakes and a spectacular run coming home. What we need is answers as to why the sockeye run is swinging between such extremes one year to the next.

John Cummins, Conservative MP for Delta-Richmond East and a commercial fisher, wrote on his website that there are "problems aplenty even with massive salmon returns."

Cummins is also supporting the removal of another researcher on the Cohen Commission investigating the 2009 failure of the sockeye run, citing "bias and lack of proper qualifications."

Meanwhile, the most recent post on the DFO website about the B.C. fisheries was an August 23 news release about the award of $637,678 "to support innovation and sustainability in the aquaculture industry in British Columbia."

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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