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

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August 01, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, (360) 902-2256

New fishing seasons expected to yield few fish

SEATTLE -- Because the largest component of the Fraser River sockeye run is expected to migrate to its spawning grounds only in Canadian waters, American fish managers today set commercial fisheries that begin tomorrow morning and continue through Wednesday.

The American managers are scheduled to meet again Tuesday with members of the Pacific Salmon Commission's technical staff and Canadian managers to obtain updated information about the size and migration route of the so-called "summer" sockeye run before making new fishing decisions.

Dennis Austin, who chairs the American section of the Fraser River Panel, noted more than 75 percent of the summer component of the Fraser run is expected to approach the river via Johnstone Strait east of Vancouver Island. Biologists anticipate the run may have more than 15 million sockeye, of which 12 million can be harvested by Americans and Canadians while still meeting Canada's spawning goals.

Austin explained the season was opened for non-Indian commercial fishing in the San Juans and Point Roberts areas because the fleets need every opportunity they can get since so few sockeye are expected to migrate through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

"This is a conservative fishery that may produce few sockeye. But we had to give U.S. fishers some opportunity," Austin said. He noted that any sockeye caught by American fishers are not needed to meet Canada's spawning goals.

The Indian and non-Indian managers today set the following non-Indian schedule:

- Purse seiners: 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday

- Gillnetters: 7:10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Monday and Tuesday

- Reef netters: 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow through Wednesday

Indian fishers will continue to fish in the Strait of Juan de Fuca through Aug. 10. They began fishing July 27.

Reports indicate the small number of Indian fishers who have been fishing for sockeye in the Strait of Juan de Fuca have caught few salmon.

Canadian managers in today's meeting confirmed conservative American fishing seasons for earlier components of the Fraser River sockeye run -- the early Stuarts and early summers -- helped them exceed their spawning goals.