08/10/2013 01:10 EDT | Updated 10/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Sockeye Salmon Shortfall Drives Up Price

The price of sockeye salmon is soaring in B.C., driven by strong demand for the premium fish, and a disastrous fishery four years ago.

"It's $65.75 for a five-pound fish," says Granville Island fishmonger Leah Moynahan, some $30 higher than 2009, when prices started climbing steadily.

Fillets of sockeye are selling for more than $20 a pound in Vancouver.

"It's so expensive because of the demand, right? You can only catch so much wild sockeye but so many people want wild sockeye," Moynahan says.

Sockeye runs are based on a four-year cycle, and 2009 was a disastrous year.

A sharp decline in salmon in the Fraser River spawned a federal inquiry. But the Cohen Commission found 'no smoking gun' to explain the collapse.

Now, fisheries managers are keeping a close eye on the northern Skeena River, where numbers are again dwindling, to determine if commercial and sport fisheries will even open along the Fraser this year.

Moynahan says there are cheaper options, with a pound of Coho salmon selling for about $16.

"The Coho this year is really nice... last year it wasn't that good, but this year I love it, it's so good," she said while kisses her fingertips. But with another low sockeye run in the forecast, salmon lovers don't have many options.

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