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Osoyoos Lake sockeye fishery to close Monday
This year’s short sockeye salmon fishing season on Osoyoos Lake will come to a close on Monday, Aug. 19.
The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) issued a fishery notice yesterday announcing the closure. The fishery opened on Aug. 1 and properly licensed anglers with a salmon stamp could take two sockeye per day.
This year’s salmon run size was significantly lower than last year’s run, which set records for recent decades. A cautious approach is needed to achieve escapement objectives as well as providing for First Nations food, social and ceremonial harvest opportunities, DFO’s notice said.
Escapement refers to the number of fish leaving Osoyoos Lake to spawn upstream. Numbers must be sufficient to ensure that enough fry hatch in order to maintain the fishery in future years.
Approximately 116,000 sockeye have now passed the Wells Dam on the Columbia River and about half of those fish are now in Canadian waters, DFO says. The Wells Dam is located just downstream from where the Okanogan River joins the Columbia River in Washington State.
Extremely warm temperatures in the Okanogan River this year have established a thermal barrier. This has meant that about half the fish that have passed the Wells Dam are holding within the Columbia River.
“In previous years when these conditions exist, very high levels of en-route mortality are known to occur,” the DFO statement says.
If migration conditions change and sockeye numbers in Osoyoos Lake increase significantly, it is still possible the fishery could be re-opened at a later date, DFO says.
The closure of the recreational sockeye fishery officially comes into effect at one minute past midnight Sunday night.