For the first time since 2012, Lake Babine Nation is dipping their nets into the waters of Babine Lake to harvest the sockeye salmon population and it the season couldn’t be going any better.
There are roughly 30,000 sockeye salmon travelling through Lake Babine Nation fences per day so far this year.
Efforts have wrapped up a one of the fence locations on Babine Lake and efforts are now being turned to fences at Fulton and Pinkut Lake.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the lead agency for salmon management in B.C. predicted a large return of salmon this year due to the fact that the population was expected to mostly the progeny of salmon that spawned in the record run of 2010.
It was expected that 2.4 million sockeye salmon would migrate through Babine Lake this year, an expectation that led the lake to be classified as a category four by the DFO’s stock assessment staff.
A category four ranking means that the population is abundant and well above targeted goals for the year.
A successful salmon harvest for Lake Babine Nation means that they will be able to sell their fresh salmon to buyers down on the coast in Vancouver, as well as sell it locally.
It also means the Lake Babine Nation members will receive their salmon for the season, too.
The salmon harvest is a primary source of income for Lake Babine Nation and the money it generates allows projects to be started an infrastructure to be upgraded.
According to Wilf Adam, Chief of Lake Babine Nation, construction on the hall at Fort Babine has already begun and other projects are on the way to being started, too.
“We are meeting our targets,” Adam said, “It’s going really well, approximately 30,000 fish per day travel through the fences, and there was a whole slew the previous two days.”
Last year the population of sockeye salmon was too low, and it forced Lake Babine Nation to halt the harvesting for the year.
It led to a shortage of fish for food for members and the loss of income forced projects to be stopped.
To that end, Lake Babine Nation always tries to maintain the balance and the population even during a successful run such as this year.
“We only take what we need, which is a small percentage of the population,” Adam said, “This year species, such as coho were left alone because of the low population.”
Babine Lake was one of 22 out of 84 outlook categories to improve its DFO ranking this year.