While dismal sockeye returns to the Skeena River have been a concern, the bleak forecasts for returns to the Nass River have been the subject of more recent discussions in the federal fisheries department.
The most recent in-season forecasts estimate that the chinook return could be a dismal half of what was expected, and sockeye returns are also looking quite bleak.
Based on that concern, Fisheries and Oceans Canada were discussing possible fishing closures for Nass chinook, conversations that were ongoing as of late Friday, July 21.
“There was rough pre-season estimate for the Nass at about 24,000 chinook. The estimate right now is at about 12,000,” said North Coast fisheries manager Sandra Davies.
“It’s significantly less than what we were expecting, and it spawned a conversation about putting in some potential closures for chinook fishing,” she said, adding that the decision is expected sometime next week.
Besides chinook, sockeye and summer-run steelhead are both below average in the Nass, according to the July 17 Nass Stock Assessment report, a weekly report which can be found on the DFO website here.
The situation is brighter for the coho salmon, whose numbers are above average.
A quick look at the Nass sockeye numbers, 454,000 was the pre-season Total Return to Canada (TRTC) forecast, but the most recent in-season estimate is at 246,000.
All the forecast numbers are preliminary and subject to frequent change, so the Nass report cautions that the estimates should be interpreted cautiously.
More on the Nass returns and whether a fishing closure is issued, will be available online next week.