Official says fallout from the warm-water Pacific ‘blob’ years ago is still impacting ecosystems
As salmon fisheries get set to open on B.C.’s North Coast in the next few months, anxiety in the region is high. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is preparing 2018 management plans for the various fisheries in the region.
That includes major salmon-bearing rivers in B.C. like the Skeena and Nass, which are important for First Nations, subsistence fishers and tourism. But one DFO official says the department is already anticipating below average runs and closures or restrictions on catch limits are possible.
“Fishing opportunities are uncertain,” said Pacific director of salmon management Jennifer Nener. “We’ve really seen a coast-wide trend, specifically with chinook … with reduced returns, lower productively levels. “We’re quite concerned.
We’re not sure exactly how it’s going to play out.” The two salmon species of concern, Nener said, are chinook and sockeye. She says fewer fish are returning to spawn and they are coming back in reduced size, which could mean fewer eggs and fewer fish in the next generation.
Nener says the suspected culprit behind the poor runs is the Pacific Ocean “blob,” a mass of warm water that has lingered for years and disrupted marine ecosystems. It hurt salmon, she said, by disrupting cold-water organisms like zooplankton that they feed on.