For hundreds, maybe thousands of years, red sockeye salmon have moved up the Fraser River in British Columbia to spawn. While in the ocean, they are not red, but in spawning season, this is the color that they turn.
In the past up to 10.6 million sockeye have spawned in the Fraser River. They've provided Native Peoples with food for years and commercial fisherman make their living fishing for them. However, the last three years, the British Columbia government have closed the Fraser to both commercial and recreational fishing, which has affected the livliehood of many.
In the Globe and Mail (Toronto newspaper) this morning, an article stated that only approximately one million salmon has moved up the Fraser River to spawn this year. It seems the sockeye salmon stock is being depleted and no one knows why. There are several theories but none of them are absolute. Could the fish have been infected by sea lice, which is a marine parasite. Could it be that global warming is to blame? The temperature of the Fraser has risen in the past few years and may have weakened the sockeye.
The Canadian government has stated that the sockeye are dying in the ocean and not the Fraser River. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans have no idea how widespread the loss is, but say that other types of salmon, such as the chinook, pink and coho don't seem to be affected.
Because the salmon have diminished, the environment along the Fraser River will be changed. After salmon spawn, they die and become food for bears and eagles and nutrients for plants that grow along the banks. Food companies will also have to look elsewhere for their supply of sockeye.