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Man and beast feast on this year’s chum salmon runs to the Cowichan River

While tourists enjoyed a world-class wildlife spectacle this month — Steller and California sea lions hauled out on the Cowichan Bay waterfront — Cowichan Tribes engaged in a “demonstration” commercial fishery of chum salmon.

Terry Palfrey, federal fisheries resource manager for the Strait of Georgia, told that Cowichan Tribes received a total allowable catch of 5,000 chum salmon for commercial sale in addition to a lesser number of food and ceremonial fish.

A harvest round table, which included sport and commercial sectors, agreed to the Cowichan Tribes commercial fishery, which was conducted from Oct 29 to Nov. 7 with one seine vessel. The demonstration fishery first started in 2016 in Area 18.

The federal government has a target of 160,000 chum to escape up the Cowichan to spawn, a target reached about eight of the last 10 years, Palfrey said. A DIDSON multi-beam sonar system is employed to count the salmon swimming up the river.

“We have current information all the time,” he said.

Cowichan is one of the most consistently productive salmon streams on Vancouver Island. “We’re coming in on target,” Palfrey said.

Chum salmon return to spawn after three to five years.

(Photo: NOAA)

— Larry Pynn, Nov. 27, 2020


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