North Coast Fisherman Concerned About the Upcoming Sockeye Salmon Season

North Coast fishermen are concerned about the upcoming sockeye season.


Early forecasts from the Department of Fisheries say returns this year may be too weak to support a fishery.


And as CFTK’s Cierra Wilson reports, the North Coast fishing community is hoping for the best, while bracing for the worst.



United Fishermen’s Union President Kim Olsen says last year the sockeye salmon return was slightly better than the forecast, but there’s no telling of what might actually happen this year.


“As we’ve seen in the past DFO’s prediction are subject to criticism and usually when they predict a very low year we actually do quite well. It’s up in the air, hopefully their predictions wrong; we have seen some very good returns in the past few years.”


Olsen says it’s difficult for fishermen to survive on one species-- generally forcing them into other fisheries.


“We’ve had bad runs before. It won’t be new if we have another one; it makes it very tough for fishermen to survive. A lot of the other fisheries are going into a quota based system and that’s limiting the participation of commercial fishermen. Guys with deep pockets are buying up the quotas and the average fishermen can’t afford to lease that quota to fish.”


Olsen says commercial fishermen have done everything they can to conserve and protect returning salmon.


“A lot of it has to do with the DFO management and what they put on the grounds. We’ve seen in the past, they’ve over escaped systems and that and that’s really hard on salmon stocks. When you over escape the systems the systems can’t support too many fish in them. If you over escape them, they come out smaller and they’re easy to be preyed on.”


And Olsen says everyone has a part to play in conserving and protecting fish to ensure there are strong returns in the future.


“Recreational fishermen have apart to play as well. We always get battered by the recreational fleet saying that we should be shut down completely, but they’ve got to take a good hard look at themselves in river fisheries, catch and release fisheries—you can’t catch and release fish in a river and expect them to respond properly.”