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Originally published Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 10:02 AM

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Fraser River whopper sockeye salmon run even bigger

A forecast released Tuesday by the Pacific Salmon Commission predicts some 34 million fish will return to spawn in the Fraser River, a substantial jump from last week's estimate of 25 million.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Fraser River sockeye salmon run keeps getting bigger.

A forecast released Tuesday by the Pacific Salmon Commission predicts some 34 million fish will return to spawn in the Canadian watershed. That forecast is a substantial jump from last week's estimate of 25 million.

This year's run, the largest since 1914, is expected to provide a bounty for Canadian and U.S. fishermen whose harvest openings continue this week on both sides of the border. The erratic Fraser sockeye run has frequently been a bust in recent years, and last year's meager return forced harvest closures.

Commercial fishermen joining in this year's harvest have enjoyed some of the best Fraser sockeye landings in memory.

Processors have struggled to keep up with the amount of fish brought to shore. Some of the harvest has gone into fresh markets, but much of the fish is being frozen or may be canned.

The price paid to U.S. fishermen has dropped as the huge run has progressed. Recent prices to U.S. purse-seiners have been about $1 a pound, which compares to prices of $1.70 a pound or higher earlier in the harvest, said Bob Kehoe, of the Seattle-based Purse Seine Vessel Owners' Association.

Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or hbernton@seattletimes.com

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