Gillnet fishing boats on the opening day of the salmon fish at the mouth of the Fraser River in 2014. Later they would head to the ocean. This year many boats never left port. (CBC)

Crisis in west coast salmon fishery

Commercial fishermen on Canada’s west coast say it’s the worst season they’ve ever experienced.

According to Joy Thorkelson, president of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union, at least 2,500 people are affected by the record low numbers of salmon. Catches have been far below normal and some fishermen simply haven’t fished at all this season. She said many workers haven’t earned any money since last season. Others say the catches can’t even pay the fuel bills if they go fishing and at least one says he’ll have to give up his boat as he can’t make the bank payments.

“What’s happening is just a disaster for all the fisherman and shore workers, people who work in plants and who mend nets and have been waiting all summer for this season.” J Thorkelson

Most chinook salmon populations in Canada are in decline, according to the a 2018 statement from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada. (Paul Vecsei/Engbretson Underwater Photography)

Reasons for the low salmon returns along the B.C. coast are being cited as climate change, habitat destruction, and overfishing.

Salmon are born in freshwater rivers then head out into the ocean for up to five years before returning to those same rivers to spawn and die.

Earlier this year DFO says it believes a huge swath of warm ocean water five years ago, called the “blob”,  killed off large numbers of salmon fry when they entered the ocean.

DFO says a “blob” of extra warm ocean water may have killed off young salmon fry heading to the ocean. This year shows a similar hot current forming. (NOAA)

Thorkelson says the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has never discussed a climate adaptation strategy with her or west coast fishers.

Michael Crowe, centre, of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and two members of the B.C. Wildfire Service place a sockeye salmon in a vessel being used to transport them up the Fraser River with a helicopter, past a massive rock slide near Big Bar, west of Clinton, B.C., on July 24, 2019. It’s not known what effect the blockage will have on the salmon population. Fish are reportedly now being able to swim past the slide. The Fraser is one of the major salmon rivers in B.C. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

It had estimated a return of 5 million salmon, much lower than a long term average of just under 13 million.

Nevertheless, Thorkelson said fisherman geared up, but when they went out on the ocean the fish weren’t there.

As they prepare to spawn sockeye salmon turn bright red. The males develop a pronounced humped back and longer snout, After spawning they will die. (CP)

Another looming issue for boat owners is finding qualified deckhands. The unpredictable nature of the fishery in recent years means more people are leaving the industry for stable work and this year’s lack of work will only add to that concern.

Additional information-sources

Categories: Economy, Environment, International
Tags: , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet Netiquette guidelines.

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


One comment on “Crisis in west coast salmon fishery
  1. Avatar Dianne says:

    Look at the sockeye migration routes. Check out Alaska’s many harvesting Facebook pages… Alaskans have been filling their boots this year! An American only has to live in Alaska for 12 months and they can get a subsistence licence to fill their freezers and pantries. The fish are harvested before they even get to B.C. smdh