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Pink salmon forecast upgraded while coho numbers highest in decades

The pink salmon forecast for the fall is looking to be historic, says the Pacific Salmon Commission, while other species are also having banner years.

The Commission has revised its forecast for Fraser River pinks – nearly 12 million fish are now expected this fall, double the original expectations. Alaska and Washington State are also experiencing large returns.

Meanwhile anglers have been enjoying the best coho salmon fishing in three decades in the Georgia Strait.

Retired DFO scientist Dr. Dick Beamish told Island Fisherman magazine he doesn’t think the surprise return is being driven by hatchery fish, which have had reduced releases in the last 20 years. Hatchery coho are recognizable because they have all had their adipose fins clipped. Anglers are only allowed to keep hatchery coho on the BC coast.

Beamish is waiting for more data but suspects more wild-born coho are staying in the Strait to feed during winter, leading to better growth and health.

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He says coho in the Strait likely experienced better growth than usual last year, between May and July, improving their survival rates. He’s waiting for data and DNA analysis from trawl surveys to test the hypothesis, but points out since 2013, research shows more juvenile coho have been staying in the strait to feed instead of ranging farther away to search for food.

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