Sockeye salmon returning to the Fraser River face a double whammy of hot marine and freshwater conditions. Although nearly seven million sockeye are expected

Sockeye salmon returning to the Fraser River face a double whammy of hot marine and freshwater conditions. Although nearly seven million sockeye are expected

Warmed ocean to hit salmon returns for years

Hot marine, Fraser River conditions will reduce survival rate of returning sockeye: scientists

Record hot Pacific Ocean temperatures that have degraded the marine food supply since the fall of 2013 are likely to hurt B.C. salmon returns not just this summer but for the next one to three years.

That’s the prediction of Ian Perry, an ocean scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

He said the effects may be relatively minor this summer – with returning sockeye salmon that are only slightly thinner or smaller than usual – but worse over the next few years.

That’s because the sockeye now returning experienced relatively normal temperatures when they first headed out to sea as juveniles in early 2013.

Unusual weather patterns that year meant there wasn’t the normal deep mixing of ocean layers in the northeast Pacific and the surface temperatures got steadily warmer.

The water in the Gulf of Alaska was three degrees above normal by January 2014 and there were record hot temperatures last summer.

The runs that will return from 2016 to 2018 will likely have faced longer exposure to hot ocean temperatures, which result in poor, less nutritious plankton for salmon to feed on, and can also bring more predator fish north to devour salmon.

“The juvenile salmon coming out of the river this spring in 2015 are coming into an environment that is very different from what they’ve normally evolved to,” Perry said.

“We anticipate this is going to affect their growth and their survival. And we expect there will be fewer numbers of them coming back in the next one to three years.”

The sockeye that survive the ocean to make their spawning run this year will face the danger of hot river temperatures and low flows.

Federal habitat research biologist David Patterson said record high water temperatures are being measured throughout the Fraser River system.

He said the water is 4.5 degrees hotter than normal at Hope – an “exceptional deviation from the norm.”

Hot rivers make it harder for salmon to migrate upstream, reproduce and recover from fishery capture, and make them more susceptible to disease.

Patterson said the biggest problem is often that low flows and hot water force salmon to hole up in unsuitable areas, and if they wait too long, water levels may drop further in their eventual spawning grounds, reducing the available habitat.

Although nearly seven million Fraser River sockeye are projected, large numbers could die before they spawn.

El Nino conditions are expected to last at least through fall, meaning continued dry, hot weather is likely in B.C., with no short-term relief for salmon.

Chinook angling ban extended

DFO has extended a ban on sport fishing for chinook salmon for an extra two weeks due to low levels of early Stuart sockeye and adverse conditions, said Jeff Grout, regional salmon resource manager. That ban is in effect everywhere downstream of Mission until July 31.

“We’re taking a cautious management approach to how we manage our fisheries,” Grout said.

He said that may mean fishing restrictions or bans later in the season even as more abundant pink salmon arrive in order to avoid a bycatch of weaker stocks, such as Interior coho.

DFO officials say they’re stepping up enforcement patrols to deter and catch poachers. Anyone who spots illegal fishing can call DFO’s Observe Record Report line at 1-800-465-4336.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment, hits milestones in break-out year

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near Chilliwack secondary

Third high-school related assault Rob Iezzi’s cameras have captured since beginning of 2021

Fraser Health issued an overdose alert on Jan. 21, 2021 after an increase in overdoses over the past week in Chilliwack associated with a “greeny-blue/turquoise down substance.” (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Fraser Health issues drug overdose alert in Chilliwack

Alert comes after increase in overdoses associated with ‘greeny-blue/turquoise down substance’

A free online series on advance care planning is being hosted by two Abbotsford organizations on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3 and 10. (Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash)
Online workshop series addresses ‘advance care planning’

Three sessions hosted by Abbotsford Hospice Society and Association for Healthy Aging

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Most Read