Tag Archives: Pacific Salmon Commission

Larry Rutter’s legacy connected to salmon recovery

I was saddened to hear of the death of Larry Rutter, senior policy assistant in the Sustainable Fisheries Division at the National Marine Fisheries Service and a U.S. commissioner on the Pacific Salmon Commission.

Larry Rutter
Larry Rutter

Larry, 61, was one of the folks who taught me the basics of salmon management more than 20 years ago. He kept me informed through some difficult negotiations over salmon harvest allocations between the U.S. and Canadian governments.

Technically, he was very sharp. Personally, he was patient and kind.

I am pleased that Long Live the Kings has created a Larry Rutter Legacy Fund to carry out his wish for remembrances connected to the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, an effort he helped coordinate across the border between LLTK and the Pacific Salmon Foundation in Canada.

“It was due in no small part to Larry’s influence that LLTK and PSF were awarded a $5-million grant from the Pacific Salmon Commission’s Southern Fund Committee in 2013 for the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project,” said LLTK Executive Director Jacques White in a statement. “Without his vision and dedication, we simply would not be where we are today.”

To donate to the Larry Rutter Legacy Fund, scroll to the bottom of the Long Live the Kings page on the topic.

Larry was a graduate of South Kitsap High School and the University of Washington. He worked for the Point No Point Treaty Council and Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission before taking the job with NMFS (NOAA Fisheries). His obituary in The Olympian says Larry died last Thursday of pancreatic cancer.

To read about the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, go to Long Live the Kings or check out a story I wrote for the Kitsap Sun (subscription) last August followed by a blog entry, Watching Our Water Ways.

Fraser sockeye coming home like gangbusters

UPDATE; Tuesday, Sept. 14

This will be my last update on this year’s Fraser River sockeye run, as the run has begun to tail off and increases in the estimates have been slight the past two weeks.

Latest numbers from the Fraser River Panel (PDF 28 kb): Early-summer-run sockeye, 3.8 million; summer-run, 5.2 million; and late-run 25.4 million. The late-run is now more than three times higher than the preseason prediction, and the total runsize estimate now stands at 34.5 million.

Please read the rest of this blog entry for how this situation developed.
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UPDATE; Wednesday, Sept. 1

Latest numbers from the Fraser River Panel (PDF 37 kb): Early-summer-run sockeye, unchanged at 3.7 million; summer-run, unchanged at 4.8 million; and late-run Shuswap/Weaver, 24 million, up from 20 million.

The entire Fraser River run is now estimated at 34 million, the highest run size since 1913, when experts estimated the run to total about 39 million. The late-run Shuswap/Weaver sockeye, which are in their dominant year, are now three times the preseason estimate.
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UPDATE; Friday, Aug. 27

Latest numbers from the Fraser River Panel (PDF 198 kb): Early-summer-run sockeye, 3.7 million, up from 3.2 million; summer-run, 4.8 million, up from 4.5 million; and late-run, 21.4 million, up from 17.2 million.

The entire Fraser River run is now estimated at 30 million, the highest run size since 1913, when experts estimated the run to total about 39 million.
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UPDATE: Thursday, Aug. 26

Latest numbers from the Fraser River Panel (PDF 198 kb): Early-summer-run sockeye, 3.2 million, up from 2.9 million; summer-run, 4.5 million, up from 4.0 million; and late-run, 17.2 million, up from 12.1 million.

The total run of Fraser River sockeye is now predicted to be 25 million fish, which compares to 1.9 million total for last year. This year’s run is the largest since 1913, according to the news release.

By the way, Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton does a nice job reporting on the personal and economic effects of the big sockeye run.
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UPDATE: Friday, Aug. 20

The Fraser River Panel today released new runsize estimates for sockeye. See news release (PDF 198 kb). The latest numbers have increased from 2.6 million to 2.9 million for early-summer-run sockeye; from 3.3 million to 4.0 million for summer-run; and from 8 million to 12.1 million for late-run. We are now seeing predictions that far exceed preseason estimates.
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When it comes to Fraser River sockeye, a single year can make all the difference in the world.

Lummi tribal fishermen use a purse seine to catch Fraser River sockeye salmon in the San Juan Islands.
Photo courtesy of Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Last year at this time, I commented in Water Ways about the mystery of the missing Fraser River sockeye and the economic disaster wrought by the abysmally poor runs. Preseason forecasts of 10 million sockeye washed out with a return around 1.9 million.

This year, all kinds of fishermen seem overwhelmed with excitement as large sockeye runs return to the Fraser, the longest river in British Columbia.

Kelly Sinoski, a reporter for the Vancouver Sun, described how fishermen were laughing with joy. She quoted Julius Boudreau, a commercial fisherman in Port McNeill:

“It’s out of the ordinary. The catches have been way more than the quota. It’s crazy. We’re seeing thousands and thousands of fish.”

I placed a call to Tim Tynan of the National Marine Fisheries Service, who works with the Pacific Salmon Commission as the U.S. representative on the Fraser Panel. He reminded me that we are seeing the Adams-dominant cycle this year, a typically strong return that comes around every four years and is associated with Adams River and Lake Shuswap, which is located in the middle of the Fraser River watershed near Kamloops.
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Mystery surrounds millions of missing Fraser sockeye

If you haven’t heard, the famous Fraser River sockeye run in southern British Columbia is turning out to be a disaster this year.

The low run has implications for all kinds of fishermen on both sides of the border.

I asked Tim Tynan of the National Marine Fisheries Service about this. It truly is bad, said Tim, who works with the Pacific Salmon Commission as the U.S. representative on the Fraser Panel. That international panel manages the U.S. and Canadian fisheries for sockeye and pink salmon.

Conditions were looking good early in the year, when the PSC staff forecast 10.5 million sockeye for the entire Fraser River run. Of that, about 8.7 million was expected to come from the “summer run.”

Based on current conditions, the estimate last week was reduced to only 600,000 for the summer run, which has put fisheries on hold.

It is quite a mystery why this has happened. Numbers were looking very good up until the young smolts took off into ocean waters in the spring and summer of 2007. After that, something happened, because the expected number of adults resulting from those smolts has yet to show up. Check out the latest PSC press release.

According to Tim, there remains a slim hope that some of these missing fish will still show up, since a large number of their parents came into the river two to three weeks late during the summer of 2005. But it takes a cockeyed optimist to believe that returns yet to come will turn around the disastrous year we are having.

From recent news reports:

“There’s going to be no fishery unless there’s a miracle, unless they’re real, real late.” — Merle Jefferson, natural resources director for Lummi Nation, in a story by John Stark of the Bellingham Herald.

“You know what, we’ve made Mother Nature sick and that sickness is manifesting itself in these poor returns of salmon. It’s a crisis.” — Grand Chief Doug Kelly, chair of the B.C. First Nations Fisheries Council, in a story by Mark Hume of the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Look for problems affecting juvenile sockeye in the Strait of Georgia, where the young fish spend the early, critical part of their lives. “The place to start looking is close to home.” — Brian Riddell, executive director of the Pacific Salmon Foundation, in a story by Scott Simpson of the Vancouver Sun

“The elders have been telling me for a long time that over-fishing while the sockeye are at sea and are mixed in with other species being caught is gradually extracting the genetically stronger fish among the sockeye from the returning runs, and this has been happening for the past 100 years.” — Sto:lo fisheries adviser Ernie Crey in a column by Brian Lewis in The Province
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