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Millions Of Young Salmon Disappear From Canada’s Rivers

August 14, 2009

Fisheries experts in Canada are trying to figure out the mysterious disappearance of millions of sockeye salmon from streams during this spawning season.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimated that six to 10 million salmon should have return to the Fraser river this month.

However, experts have only counted 600,000 salmon from June to present. The mysterious disappearance of millions of salmon is causing concern in the industry.

“It’s beyond a crisis with these latest numbers,” Ernie Crey, fisheries adviser to the Stolo tribes on the Fraser, told the daily Globe and Mail.

“What it means is that a lot of impoverished natives are going to be without salmon. “¦ We have families with little or no income that were depending on these fish. “¦ It’s a catastrophe,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a mystery,” Stan Proboszcz, an expert fish biologist from the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, told AFP.

“Honestly, we don’t know what happens to them when they go out into the ocean,” he said. “There’s a myriad of factors that could explain what’s going on.”

Climate change could be to blame, some experts claim. Other possible explanations include sea lice infestations among young salmon in fish farms in the Strait of Georgia as well as sparse sources of food.

Proboszcz told AFP that fishery officials may have miscalculated in their expectations for this year’s spawning season.

“There are a lot of variations in the ocean,” said Lara Sloan, spokeswoman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “They’re all interconnected, so it’s impossible to point to one reason for this happening.

“So far, they’re not coming back in the numbers we expected, but we will continue to look for them.”

Image Caption: Male and female sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) specimens. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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