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Sockeye mega-run so far slow to show up

Sockeye salmon spawning in the Adams River in 2010. - Black Press file photo
Sockeye salmon spawning in the Adams River in 2010.
— image credit: Black Press file photo

A predicted massive run of Fraser River sockeye has yet to show up in force, so no commercial salmon fishing has been approved so far.

Fishery managers with the Pacific Salmon Commission said Friday fewer sockeye are coming in so far than expected, although that could change swiftly.

The commission's Fraser River panel has not yet issued an estimate of the run size and said planned openings for seine boat fisheries have been pushed back to at least July 23.

The pre-season forecast – based on the fact this year's return is the spawn of the unusually large 2010 run – projected 23 million sockeye would likely come back to the Fraser this summer, and it might run as high as 72 million.

Other challenges are ahead for the migrating fish if they prove to be merely late, not missing.

Hot weather and a smaller-than-average Interior snowpack is likely to result in more sockeye dying than usual on their journey upriver.

As of Thursday, the temperature of the Fraser was 18.8 degrees – 2.8 degrees higher than average for this date.

"Sustained exposure of sockeye to Fraser River water temperatures in this range may slow their migration and cause elevated levels of pre-spawn mortality," the PSC's announcement cautioned.

River temperatures are forecast to moderate to 17.9 degrees over the next few days.

The amount of water flowing past the gauge at Hope was also 20 per cent lower than usual Thursday.

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