Low Birkenhead Salmon forecast and Lil’wat’s conservation measures

Catching and eating fish isn’t part of my life, so it’s not hard for me to imagine a fish moratorium on our over-harvested oceans and stressed-out rivers. I look at my three year old and think, buddy, I’d like you to have the chance to go down to the beach one day, cast a line, pull out a fish, and cook its tender flesh over a fire right there. If that dream means me taking a break from eating fish for the next 10 years, I could do it. But like I said, it doesn’t cost me anything, given that it’s not part of my life and I can’t actually remember the last time I ate fish.


So, huge kudos to the Lil’wat Nation, for whom the annual salmon run is fabric, part of culture, life, identity, diet – for taking care of the resource, and supporting a conservation closure to fishing at the mid-Fraser River and limiting the catch of the Birkenhead sockeye to 1000 fish. Because that is a meaningful and profound sacrifice.

Maxine Bruce, the Fisheries Manager for Lil’wat Nation, recently posted on Facebook:

Birkenhead River Sockeye are part of “the late summer run” of the Fraser River Sockeye stocks.

As you know, Birkenhead River Sockeye enter the River in late August, and the peak spawning period is generally the 3rd week of September. The forecast for Fraser River Sockeye abundance this year is amongst the LOWEST ON RECORD.

The river is warm and low.

There are a number of concerns with the 2016 Sockeye Salmon Escapement.

Usually, the majority of Birkenhead River Sockeye return at the age of 4yrs old with the rest at age 5 years. The 4 year old fish returning to Birkenhead River this year are likely from 2012 brood-year which was a year of fairly low escapement with only about 55,000 sockeye spawning in the Birkenhead River. More importantly, the sockeye salmon in 2012 experienced a high “pre-spawn mortalitiy” rate when only about 10% of the females successfully laid their eggs and the remaining 90% died before spawning.

It takes us all to take care of the valuable resources in which we greatly depend upon, says Maxine.

That is a greater act for some, than others.

Thank you to the people who are making this personal sacrifice.

As Tammie Jenkins said, in response, to the post:

It’s is our right to fish ,
And our responsibility to conserve.
Please keep in mind our future generations xoxo
If we don’t fish them this year we’ll have more
four years down the road…


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