We are happy to share that the salmon season has begun, and our fishers report a good start to the season!
That said, we wanted to provide our members with an update on what we expect for the season ahead, and which salmon species will be available for 2023.
From all accounts, it looks like it will be another good year for sockeye! Our fishers started off the season strong in Barkley Sound. Our long-time commercial gillnetters, Shaun Strobel, Rick Dietterle, and Dean MacDonald, and our long-time Tseshaht Nation fishers Willard and Natasha Marshall, and Les Sam, all headed out on their boats for the recent June commercial economic opportunity openings in search of sockeye.
We also have a new fisher joining us this year! John Hassal is from the Kwantlen First Nation in Fort Langley, lives in Port Alberni now, and is married to a Tseshaht fisher who also fishes her own boat in the commercial economic opportunity fishery. John comes from a long line of fishers on his dad’s side. He fishes the 36′ aluminum gillnetter, the Silvermate, and joined our commercial gillnetters for the sockeye openings.
As we look to enjoy the abundance of sockeye in Barkley Sound and Alberni Inlet we have also added a few familiar but less frequent Skipper Otto fishers on a couple of recent openings there including Toan Thi La, Gordie Johnson, Johnny Bears and Shane Roberts.
This year also marks the retirement of longtime gillnetters Mike and Sharon Bennett, who have consistently gone out to fish for sockeye salmon off the West Coast of Vancouver Island for decades and for Skipper Otto for the last five years. We want to thank them for their support and hard work over the many years working with us, and that they enjoy every minute of their well deserved retirement together.
By all accounts the sockeye look to be abundant again this year in the Skeena River. Our plan is to source what we need for the rest of the year from the Skeena River openings and are still finalizing which fishers will be helping bring in those catches.
The season for chinook opens in August in Barkley Sound and Alberni Inlet and we expect to work with many (if not all) of the same fishing families as we have in the sockeye openings. We will be sourcing from both Tsheshaht fishers on commercial economic opportunity openings and from our commercial gillnetters.
As with last year, it looks like there will not be any openings for the early-summer mid-coast fishery, where we used to source most of our chum salmon. In 2020 we were able to get some chum salmon from the fall fisheries, but those have become less likely each year to open. We are not planning to carry any chum salmon this year.
Coho and Pink
Every year we look forward to working with Francis van der Sande, who will be trolling for coho and pink salmon north of Haida Gwaii in July/early August. As always, he will be dressing and freezing at sea to ensure catch day freshness for the fish from these pristine but remote waters. We also hope to get a catch or two of pink salmon from Guy Johnston again this year too.
They are both milder in flavour and, with pink salmon available at an affordable price point, we hope they add variety to your choices of what type of salmon to eat over the coming year!
We hope this gives you some insight on what salmon species to expect this year, and what it means to eat with the ecosystem. Our sourcing strategy is to work with our fishers and provide our members with only what is abundant this year. In this way, we aim to ensure the success of future salmon populations while also providing our fishers a fair and just price for their catch.
Thanks for your support of our community of fishing families!
Allison Hepworth - July 4, 2023
What we expect in 2023: 5 Pacific Salmon Species
Allison Hepworth - July 4, 2023