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SFU Tackles Sockeye Collapse

CANADA - Some fish farms should be shut down to try to open up safer routes for migrating sockeye salmon, a group of fishery scientists has recommended.

The university is holding three events to address the Fraser River sockeye collapse.

This week about 20 of North Americas leading fisheries scientists gathered at the Burnaby campus to discuss the fishery decline.

They looked at whether marine/ocean survival is the problem, what other factors are involved, whether salmon forecasts provide useful management information, and how to improve monitoring and management.

The same scientists also discussed their findings during a public presentation at the Vancouver campus.

On 14-15 January 2010, SFU will host a public "Salmon Summit" at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue involving the scientists, industry stakeholders, First Nations and the public. The federal government commissioned an inquiry in November after only 1.4 million sockeye returned to the Fraser last Julya fraction of the 10.6 million predicted.

On the SFU website, Matthew Wong said: "We must depopulate. We must try to do this first before trying out any other band-aids, at least until we have these issues sorted out."

A report in theSurrey Leader said the group of scientists, who convened this week, said there is no clear explanation yet of why 90 per cent of the expected sockeye disappeared.

Plenty of fry that comprise the 2009 run hatched four years earlier and it is thought large numbers of juveniles made it to sea.

The researchers suspect they ran into trouble in B.C. waters, soon after reaching the Strait of Georgia, where sewage discharges, other pollution and fish farms all pose threats, the Surrey Leader report says.

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