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Alaskan fisheries endangering Skeena sockeye salmon: conservationists

Alanna Kariotakis pin-bones Sockeye Salmon fillets at The Salmon Shop on Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia, Saturday, April 14, 2012.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

A near record-low sockeye salmon run for the Skeena River fishery has cut off the catch in B.C., but conservation groups say Alaskan fishermen aren't pulling in their nets.

Watershed Watch conservationist Aaron Hill says the cause of the sockeye collapse is unknown, but Alaskan fisheries are perpetuating the low-return.

He says that a significant number of sockeye are caught as a by-product of Alaskan pink and chum salmon operations.

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Hill and other conservationists are calling on the federal government to defend Canada's economic and environmental interests by asking Alaskans to move their fisheries.

Hill says the Alaskan fisheries should be moved closer to the pink and chum spawning grounds, allowing Skeena sockeye to escape into the river.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimates that less than half of the average number of Skeena sockeye salmon will make it to their spawning grounds this year.

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