Managing biodiversity in Pacific salmon: the evolution of the Skeena River sockeye salmon fishery in British Columbia


Mixed-stock harvest of wild and enhanced salmon stocks greatly complicates the conservation of salmon diversity, and nowhere is this more evident than in the fisheries for sockeye salmon in the Skeena River, British Columbia, Canada. The total catch and production of sockeye salmon from the Skeena River has set record high levels over the last decade after 100 years of intensive commercial fishing. However, both species and stock diversity decreased significantly over the course of the fishery. Species diversity has largely been restored through conservation action, but many individual populations remain at very low abundance. Fishery managers have struggled to find an acceptable trade-off between extracting economic benefits from enhanced stocks while protecting less productive wild stocks from extirpation. Recent policies promise to provide explicit limits to these trade-offs based on stewardship ethics and conservation principles.