The DFO has invited First Nations to provide proposals for capital acquisitions for their fishery programs. With the assistance of Advisor, Terrance Bedard, Yale submitted a couple of proposals. The initial proposal submitted was approved for the purchase of a safe boat for the Yale Fishwheel program, safety gear and training. The secondary proposal was for a boat shelter and storage for gear and supplies for the fishwheel program. This structure is to be located on IR#8.
Although fishing and fisheries opportunities have been challenging over the past few seasons there was a positive; the Yale Fishwheel provided some members with chinook harvests selectively caught and distributed. It is anticipated that the Fishwheel will continue to be beneficial to the YFN community. It is also seen as a good platform to contribute to valuable information by catching and releasing species and stock to the river unharmed. Some of these catches can be tagged or sampled and used to provide management information.
There are some signs of Early Summer Sockeye to date, but are still 11 days off the preseason p50 peak date of August 6 in Area 20. As you can see in the table taken from the FRP distribution July 26/22 below, only 123,000 Early Summers have been accounted to date from a preseason forecast of 1,579,000. In addition, of the 123,000 Early summers accounted to date only 9,000 Early Thompson Sockeye have been observed. As the preseason forecast of Early Thompson Sockeye (1,276,000) make up most of the Early Summer aggregate the department is not in a position to authorize a Dry Rack fishery when the Sockeye Window Closure is removed below Sawmill Creek July 29 due to the uncertainty of knowing if the Early Summer aggregate, in particular the Early Thompson Sockeye, will continue to build in numbers or meet preseason expectations.
There is a Fraser River Panel this Friday July 29 and again Tuesday August 2, when it is expected to get a better sense of what a Dry rack fishery will look like after the Tuesday August 2 FRP up date. I understand the weather conditions are very suitable this week to begin a dry rack as soon as the window closure is removed but given the uncertainty of what the Early Summer run size is, and what TAC will be available. In addition the bulk of the Early Summers currently in the river have faced significant upstream migration challenges in the Hells Gate, Big Bar and other portions of the Fraser River and are likely to be the most abundant stock group in the area this coming weekend.
A question was raised on the APM Fisheries Discussion Call last week about how the department is distributing out the Early Summer TAC. Similar to 2018, the department is distributing out Early Summer run Sockeye TAC for each Sockeye aggregates proportionally across all FSC fisheries and DFO is encouraging all First Nations to initiate fisheries in a slow and precautionary manner to keep Early Summer impacts as low as possible as they are the primary limiting group in 2022. It is expected, that First Nations groups fishing in the Marine waters and below Port Mann Bridge would have earlier Sockeye access than APM groups due to more favorable Sockeye stock compositions and species compositions. Again similar to 2018 it is very important for the APM communities to ensure they have enough Early Summer TAC available to them to target more abundant Summer and Late Sockeye. At this point in time there are no Sockeye directed fisheries planned in advance of the APM groups.
The Department was asked by the APM groups a week ago, about considerations of timing of a Chinook-directed fishery using large mesh nets in early August. The Department responded with: looking at 2019-2021 Chinook-directed fisheries when no Sockeye TAC was available it would make sense to delay Chinook-directed fisheries similar to 2019-2021, which means starting around August 13 or so for the APM group. The impacts on the Summer 5(2)s from the APM fishery are too great to allow the APM fishery to start any earlier. We have already seen one of the lowest run size estimates for Spring and Summer 5(2) Chinook in 2022, with additional high flows further impacting Chinook and Sockeye migration. There is very high uncertainty as to whether the Chinook that are required to go through Hell’s Gate and Big Bar will successfully pass through these areas.
I know this is not the news folks were looking for but is a consistent message the Department has been using for much of 2020-2022 when looking at fisheries planning and considerations. Fingers crossed by next Tuesday we see more abundance of Early Summers and Summers to look at the Dry rack or Communal fisheries.