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July 18, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, (360)902-2256
Large Fraser sockeye run allows conservation, new U.S. fisheries
SEATTLE -- U.S. fish managers today announced they will open Indian and
non-Indian fisheries for early Stuart Fraser River sockeye salmon this weekend
because the run is larger than expected and because conditions in the river are
expected to improve.
In response to a Canadian request, U.S. managers this week kept the sockeye
fishery closed even though the technical staff of the Pacific Salmon Commission
estimated the run size had increased from 1.1 million to 1.2 million. At the time,
Canadian managers said they feared strong flows in the Fraser River would prevent
enough sockeye from reaching their spawning grounds. Canadian managers want
500,000 early Stuarts to spawn.
The PSC staff today said the early Stuart run is now estimated at 1.4 million fish.
They also indicated river conditions are expected to improve over the weekend so that
the salmon could reach the spawning grounds far up the Fraser River.
In response, fish managers from the Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife as well as tribal and federal governments announced two fisheries targeting on
- A tribal gillnet fishery in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from 4 p.m. tomorrow until
10 a.m. Sunday (expected to catch a few thousand fish)
Earlier this month, U.S. fishers took approximately 108,000 early Stuarts, making
the total estimated U.S. early Stuart harvest at approximately 143,000 fish.
Based on a run of 1.4 million early Stuarts, the U.S. managers indicated the
American share was 159,500 sockeye.
- A non-Indian commercial purse seine fishery in the San Juan and Point
Roberts areas from 6 a.m. until noon tomorrow (expected to catch
approximately 30,000 fish)
"Our fisheries on Fraser River sockeye have been very conservative and our top
priority has been to observe the Canadian spawning goal of 500,000 fish," said Bern
Shanks, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"This new opening continues to stress conservation: based on historical harvests
we could take 159,500 fish. Even with new openings this weekend, we will only take an
estimated 143,000," he added.