Historic Fraser Sockeye Fishery Caught in Hi-Def


In mid-September, Damien Gillis had the rare privilege to capture this year’s astonishing sockeye fishery, off the south arm of the Fraser River. Amidst the largest Fraser sockeye return in nearly a century – some 35 million fish – Damien caught up with the commercial seine boat Snow Queen, hard at work. During one of the last openings of the season, Gillis documented the “set” of a lifetime for Captain Mitch Ponak and his crew: over 35,000 sockeye in one seine. It’s all covered here in vivid detail in this entertaining 6 min video.

Much has been said about this year’s unanticipated sockeye return – including erroneous claims from the fish farm industry that it somehow “proves” open net salmon farms aren’t adversely impacting wild salmon; if anything, it has raised more questions than it has answered. On this sunny September day, however, these amazing sockeye were a welcome sight and reminder of what healthy wild salmon runs mean to the communities, cultures, and economies of the entire BC coast and province – and of why we should be doing everything in our power to give these fish a fighting chance.

The Snow Queen


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

12 thoughts on “Historic Fraser Sockeye Fishery Caught in Hi-Def

  1. Stop farm fishing and retention of sockeye from commercial fishing.
    Even though there was big return of sockeye return we don t know if they can make it to spawn with so many virus from the fish farms.

  2. Net Fishing of ALL Kinds must stop! At least for 10 years. Hopefully this will allow the fish, ALL of them, to reproduce to levels that are sustainable. And we can start fishing by other means than starting the deplorable immoral netting all over again! I’m not a fisher, but, it doesn’t take a smart person to see that pulling in 100’s if not 1000’s of fish at one time, gives the fish NO chance at all. AND finally, here it comes, our government and people must have the backbone to stand up to the countries that allow NET fishing!…It does no good if we work hard to give the fish a chance to recover if other countries, for whatever reason, don’t adhere to the NO Net policy!

  3. Bill McGowan: There is no DNA mixing between wild Sockeye and Farmed Atlantic Salmon. None.

    Dragonlady: Salmon farming has nothing to do with the 35 million Sockeye Salmon returning to the Fraser. Farmed Salmon are Atlantic Salmon, and can not breed with Sockeye.

    If you are going to lobby against something, at least learn the science.

  4. Wonder how many fish from this run actually made it up river to spawn. Does anybody know if any salmon in this run
    were DNA tested for any possible genetic connection to
    farmed fish in BC.

  5. starting in mid 1967 other countries were starting to fish the mid pacific with 60mile long gill nets. notable japan. i received a case of there canned sockeye and the tins were very small compared to Canadian tins the fish inside judging from there body chunks were no bigger than a three pound trout. inside info was they were caught in mid pacific around April / may half there full weight . all that happened this year 2010 was the fish had taken a different route home or swam much deeper avoiding the nets maybe a survival instinct.

  6. The huge return of sockeye to the Fraser has been a wonderful thing; let’s not screw it up by over fishing or relaxing on the habitat work or lowering our vigilance on the fish farms. If we can get the wild fish numbers back up to one half of their original numbers, then let’s eliminate the fish farms and the salmon enhancement. Sustainably harvesting wild salmon is the best way for the environment and the economy. GO FISH!!!

  7. Although I am not Canadian I am an avid Sports fisherman that lives on the Lower Columbia River. I’ve seen the Sturgeon Fishery on the Columbia DWINDLE to near nothing since Commercial Netter were allowed to net and keep them. Watching this video makes me think the same will happen in your area. The Netters will say this will not happen and that Sport Fishermen want all the fish. I just say if you want to commercially sell the fish then catch them with a Hook and Line and let the Slaughter of our fish end!

  8. Who can count 35,000,000 fish in the ocean the salmon.
    Maybe the salmon farmers layed fish layed eggs and the salmon multiplied.; another thing it could be that the Adams river didn’t have as many preditors to eat all the babys that hatched, so to make sure that there are not as many enemys of the babys in the hatching process.
    Also I was told that when the females lay their eggs predator fish goble up the eggs as they are layed, so how can there be many sockeye that hatch and when hatched other predator fish eat the baby fish too.
    And by the time they get to sea there are not many left to go. Some are also eaten in the ocean and thus not many can come back to Adams river to spawn.
    But I still think somehow the fishfarming has produced more Sockeye Salmon!!!!!

  9. Have the indigenous leaders be more responsable for abusive use of gill nets in non tidel waters public money is getting scarce. Check for disruption in the off shore fisheries that may give some insight as to rippleys believe it or not answer to where did these fish come from. It happeened before with chum salmon.

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