Ask the Experts

Question:

I love being able to enjoy fresh, wild BC salmon every summer, but I’ve noticed that the supply of different species can vary a lot from year to year. How do I find out when and what species are available and whether they are sustainable?

 

The recent surprising and devastating news that the number of sockeye salmon returning to the Fraser River system this year was well below original forecasts has resulted in the shutdown of targeted fisheries for Fraser sockeye stocks. This is a compelling example of  why consumers are beginning, and should be encouraged, to ask more questions about the availability and sustainability of the five different species of wild BC salmon.

Apropos to this, Grant Snell, general manager of the BC Salmon Marketing Council, has provided us with the following overview on the status of wild BC salmon harvests as of late August:

Sockeye - The Fraser River is not the only system that produces sockeye, so we are still seeing a very limited supply of wild BC sockeye in the local market as produced in the Nass River and Barkley Sound in June and July.  The run size of Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC (by Ucluelet) was actually upgraded from pre-season expectations during the season.  The Skeena River, however, did not see any fishing openings for sockeye this year because of lower returns.

Pink - The most recent reports regarding pink run sizes in the North as part of the Nass River, Skeena River, and Caamano Sound have indicated good and steady returns of pink salmon, so you are seeing wild BC pink salmon currently available in the local market, and it is expected to be available throughout the next few weeks.

Coho - Coho salmon is also still returning in good numbers, allowing for fishing in the north and availability in the market on a fairly regular basis.

Spring - Spring salmon has been steadily available in the market because the run sizes are looking good.  There is an anticipated further troll opening in the North on August 31st for spring salmon harvests.

Chum - As there have been modest returns of summer chums to date. Only limited supplies of summer chums have been available in the market.  It is too early to determine the returns of fall chums, so we do not know the availability of chum salmon in the fall at this time.

According to Sea Choice, a seafood markets program with the primary goal of realizing sustainable fisheries in Canada and abroad  [www.seachoice.org], the key facts we need to know are the river of origin, the species, and where possible, the capture method. (For their recommendations on “better alternatives” specific to this year’s BC salmon season, click on: “2009 Pacific Salmon Rankings”.)

In the Public Market, getting this information and choosing the best quality in-season BC salmon simply means getting to know our resident experts: Dave from Longliner Seafoods, Janice from the Salmon Shop, and Brian from Seafood City, and their knowledgeable staff. Whether you’re planning a dinner party to impress friends from out-of-town or just cooking a healthy weekday supper, they are there 7 days a week to help you make the right choice. So ask, and go wild!

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