Sockeye salmon in Adams River.

Sockeye numbers shockingly low

Expectations were high, but the 2015 late South Thompson sockeye run has been disastrous.

Expectations were high, but the 2015 late South Thompson sockeye run has been disastrous.

A daily visual observation of late-run sockeye in the Adams River on Oct. 8 revealed only 2,925 fish in the lower Adams River. No late-run sockeye were observed in upper Adams River two days later on Oct. 10.

Four years ago, late-run salmon were in the millions, sparking hopes of a large return this year. But pre-run estimates of 1.2 million were quickly dropped to 200,000 for the entire Fraser River run – about half of which were expected to enter the South Thompson, with good numbers continuing on to the Little Shuswap, Shuswap Lake and Adams River. Because the numbers turned out to be so low, Fisheries Canada decided to dispense with the intensive tag and re-capture generally used to obtain an accurate count.

Stu Cartwright, acting area director of the federal Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the B.C. Interior, says they believe the less intensive method of visual counting has produced accurate estimates of the number of fish.

“We know there was a lot of pre-spawn mortality in the sockeye and that complicates things four years down the road,” says Cartwright noting that while low water levels and high water temperatures were likely factors, they may not tell the whole story.

“A lot didn’t arrive, that’s the big thing, only 200,000 entered the river… but we won’t have a final number until sometime in the new year.”

Cartwright has happier news about the chinook run that includes the Little Shuswap, Adams, Salmon and Eagle rivers.

“It looks like it will meet or exceed the brood year of 150,000 fish, which we consider to be quite a success,” he says, praising officers and volunteers for their efforts in helping chinook enter the Salmon River. “We would like to see more on the Salmon River; it has a capacity for more.”

 

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