The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) 2014 salmon outlook has been released and the news is very promising for the Lakes District and in particular Lake Babine Nation.
It is expected that 2.4 million sockeye salmon will migrate through Babine Lake this season during the salmon run, an increase from last year.
The positive outlook is due to the majority of the salmon population migrating back to the Fraser River being the progeny of the 2010 salmon population, which was the largest salmon return in 100 years.
In the projected forecasts done by DFO Stock Assessment staff, as well as information gathered from preseason forecasts, the DFO has labelled Babine Lake as an outlook category four.
A category four ranking from the DFO means that it is expected that the salmon population will be high, the stock is abundant and well above targeted goals.
Directed fisheries will be subject to allocation policy.
Babine Lake was one of 22 outlook units (rivers or lakes) that improved its outlook category in this year’s DFO assessment.
Last year Babine Lake was officially classified as a three to four by the DFO.
For Lake Babine Nation what this means is that they’ll be casting their nets into Babine Lake this year, after not doing so last year.
The large salmon run is important for LBN, they commercially harvest the salmon and personally fish for the salmon.
They smoke the salmon and sell the fresh and smoked fish both locally, and in down the coast in Vancouver.
The salmon also provides community members with salmon for their own needs.
Sockeye salmon is a vital resource for the LBN community both as a revenue source and as a food source.
Lake Babine Nation being able to harvest the Babine Lake salmon is huge.
The financial impact it has on the community is incredible.
Revenue from the salmon harvest is substantial, it allows certain projects in the community to be developed and it keeps ongoing projects funded.
Not being able to harvest the salmon last year forced LBN to hold off on projects.
Secondly, it is a vital food source.
Some stories that are told of LBN community members not having enough salmon to last through the winter is telling.
Many of these stories reflect one of the many reasons against proposed pipeline projects.
The argument being if one year of not being able to harvest the salmon due to low populations is damaging than three or four years in a row because of a spill would be disastrous.
Finally, being able to harvest and sell salmon both locally and on the coast is a great opportunity to showcase what the Lakes District has to offer.
For LBN this is not a top priority, but nevertheless it is an offspring of their efforts.
Plus the availability of fresh and smoke salmon to local Burns Lakers is an added bonus to the community.
Burns Lakers should be happy that the salmon are plentiful.
Plentiful salmon means that a vital and large part of our community will continue to thrive and it is something that all of Burns Lake should want.