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

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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 early Stuarts:

  • 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)
  • 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)
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.

"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.