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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


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July 17, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, (360) 902-2256

U.S. joins Canada to protect Fraser River sockeye

OLYMPIA -- As a joint conservation move with Canada, U.S. Indian and non-Indian fish managers today decided against reopening fisheries for early Stuart Fraser River sockeye even though the run size estimate has been increased by 100,000 salmon.

U.S. and Canadian managers met by telephone today to listen to the latest scientific information about the run size and condition of the Fraser River from the non-partisan technical staff of the Pacific Salmon Commission.

The technical staff increased the size of the early Stuart run from 1.1 million to 1.2 million.

But it also reported the Fraser River was flowing at record levels due to recent heavy rains and melting snowpacks. Such heavy flows normally occur in the spring, not mid-summer.

Migrating very long distances in such heavy flows saps the energy reserves of early Stuart sockeye. In addition, the river is very murky due to siltation and mud slides induced by the heavy rain.

Fish managers from both countries believe the heavy flow will mean many of the sockeye that escaped U.S. and Canadian fishers could die before they reach their spawning grounds hundreds of miles up the Fraser River.

Canada has set a spawning goal of 500,000 sockeye from the estimated 1.2 million fish in this year's run.

U.S. fishers have taken approximately 108,000 early Stuarts while Canadians have taken approximately 276,000.

U.S. and Canadian managers are scheduled to meet again on Friday.