Continuing the evaluation of abundance and stock composition of downstream migrating juvenile Sockeye Salmon in the lower Fraser River

While Fraser River sockeye salmon survival has declined over the past decade, it has also exhibited high interannual variability. The processes responsible for this trend and the variability are not understood and require investigation. This project builds on the previous work by adding a fifth year of sampling juvenile migrants immediately prior to their entry into the Strait of Georgia (SoG). The sampling platform will be identical to that employed successfully in 2013-2015, and GSI analysis will help to provide estimates of relative abundance and migration timing past Mission by stock. It is anticipated that sampling intensity in 2016, a juvenile Pink Salmon outmigration year, will be similar to that in 2014. In 2016, we propose to repeat the 2014 & 2015 study design and parameters assessed, including the assessment of the nocturnal migration patterns of Sockeye juveniles for a third year.
As in previous years, samples collected under this project will be compared to samples collected in other ongoing and proposed assessments, such as DFO’s annual SoG trawl survey occurring June-July and a similar trawl survey in Johnstone Strait. In combination, these three studies will add a third year to a comprehensive multi-stock assessment of Fraser River juvenile sockeye salmon relative abundance and condition, from nursery lake exit through early marine near-shore residency.
Sub-yearling ocean-migrant sockeye salmon (e.g. Harrison River stock) can be important contributors to Fraser River Sockeye production. The 2016 survey will continue to incorporate the bio-sampling of captured sub-yearling juveniles to identify their contribution, and migration timing at Mission by Conservation Unit (CU).
Lastly, the 2016 project will explore the feasibility of deploying an acoustic Doppler current profiler in an attempt to measure water current velocities over a depth range. This information may be important in determining absolute juvenile sockeye abundance at Mission.