Good News Pacific Salmon Counts Are Up… WAY UP
The prediction a month ago was that this year a modest number of 26 million sockeye would be returning to the famous Sockeye Salmon streams of Bristol Bay Alaska. Instead they have shown up in much larger numbers as the July 20th update from the Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute was predicting the sockeye run to Bristol Bay will reach 40-45 million sockeye. The largest numbers ever of Bristol Bay sockeye have been just over 40 million fish so there is a very good chance this could be a record breaking year.
I am pulling for 40+ million Bristol Sockeye as there have been repeated increases in the predicted numbers this year. On the 9th there was a report of another surge of sockeye being counted by the Bristol Bay Port Moller test fishery so many more are on the way. It takes a few days for fish from the test fishery counting station to reach the rivers.
This story and science of Pacific salmon numbers being at or breaking historic abundance is of course related to my 2012 ocean ‘salmon’ pasture restoration Keep in mind that the context of salmon projections is based on the collective wisdom of scores of reporting scientists in many institutions who have for decades been making salmon forecasts that have been traditionally very accurate with regard to salmon returns in the region. Those forecasts take into consideration supposedly ALL pertinent factors both local and global, including the mysterious Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).
Naturally one reason I like to think the Bristol Bay sockeye will number 40 million is because I wrote and performed with friends a song called 40 million salmon can’t be wrong! It tells the story of salmon and how the 100 tonnes of iron rich dust I used to restore and revive the most critical of all Pacific salmon pastures, the nursery pasture for newly arriving baby salmon, just works. The salmon last year and this are proving it so!
Southeast Alaska Reporting Historic Salmon Returns Are Showing Up
Reports are just coming in (July 10th) from Haines Alaska. Alaska Department of Fish and Game commercial fish biologist Randy Bachman says the salmon counts show the fish are both big size and numbers. The size increase is a surprise as it indicates the fish were being very well fed out on their ocean pastures. Chum salmon being caught just now are averaging 10lbs considerably heavier than last year.
While the hatchery chum are the target right now for most fishermen, the wild sockeye runs are not being overlooked. Eight thousand sockeye were recorded caught last week by the commercial fleet in the region. Bachman said the Chilkat sockeye run near Haines is looking strong and the fish wheels are showing some of the highest numbers on record.
“The Chilkat Lake sockeye early return seems to be extremely strong. We’ve had good showings, good catches in our fish wheels as well as extremely high sonar counts up at Chilkat Lake early this season. It was a strong forecast for a Chilkat Lake return and it’s looking even stronger than that.”
Biologists expected a less successful run for the Chilkoot, also near Haines, but Bachman said, that run is also looking stronger than projected.
“It’s about three times as good compared to where we were this time last year and well above the escapement during the parent year in 2009,”
“The sockeye, like the chum, are lunkers, too this year and probably pushing 7-and-a –half, 8 pounds when they’re usually 6 or 6-and-a-half.”
Watch Giant Alaskan Bears Catching Some Of This Years Historically Abundant Salmon On This LIVE HD Web Cam (daylight hours Alaska time of course)
Columbia River sockeye officially break the all-time record for Sockeye.
The largest run of Sockeye in history is now in the Columbia River after 601,707 sockeye were counted as of July 19th swimming up the fish ladder of the first dam they have to cross on their way upstream on the previous day. Earlier this year, fish biologists predicted a great return of 347,100 salmon would cross Bonneville Dam. There is another week or two of sockeye swimming into the Columbia and though they were being counted climbing that Bonneville Dam fish ladder at a rate of about 10,000 – 20,000 per day, now their numbers have dwindled to 2000-3000 per day. Many thousands more are caught before they reach the dam so the number will surely be way over the previous record of 521,00o and even the present 601,707. Alas no 40 million for the Columbia but this is the largest number of sockeye ever in the Columbia even more than before the dams were built.
Count some yourself in the company of the US ARMY which provides some live web cams to it’s Columbia River fish counting video station. Now that has to be a special cushy job you get as a reward for one of those ‘secret missions.’
Along side the Sockeye record numbers of Chinook and other species of salmon are also filling the Columbia with healthy restored ocean pasture fed salmon.
When those Columbia River salmon swam out to sea two years ago instead of mostly starving we treated them to a feast. They grew and grew and before to long came back and filled our rivers with healthy salmon in historic abundance.
Fraser River Sockeye Arriving Just Now
The Fraser River sockeye are just in the past few days showing up in the test fishery near Abbotsford, BC with a few sockeye in the counting gillnet there yesterday for the first time this year.
Out at the mouth of the Juan de Fuca the Area 20 test fishery for sockeye is now counting spectacular numbers of sockeye, about the same numbers as were seen preceding the 2012 Volcanic salmon miracle year. It’s said that the fish are a week or more late in showing up in the test fishery nets so over the next several weeks the excitement will be building.
With the peak of the Fraser run is another month away I am watching the reports like a crazed sports fan. This more fun than seeing the German soccer team score five goals against Brazil. Since both Alaska and the Columbia have surpassed the most optimistic salmon projections I am hoping the Fraser does as well and we see at least another 40 million red beauties swim home from their restored and revived ocean pasture.
Fishery boffins have projected the Fraser sockeye might number a stunning 72 million this year, “due to especially good ocean survival,” say one of their experts. The largest runs in the rivers history have been a bit less than 45 million. Read more about how restoring and reviving ocean pastures brings the fish back here’s a link to get you started. Fraser River Sockeye Projected To Be One For The History Books
And don’t forget last falls historic catch of Alaska Salmon which broke the predicted catch of 50 million Pink Salmon with 226 million of the silver beauties that swam home from ours and their restored ocean pasture into the nets and onto our plates.