Historically, the local fishing industry was dominated by activity related to the harvesting and processing of wild salmon. The sockeye fishery in Clayoquot Sound was once the largest on the coast. This fishery disappeared in the 1970s as a result of over-harvest and habitat loss. Other species accounted for a relatively small share of the industry's output.
Kennedy Lake is the most important nursery lake for Clayoquot sockeye. In 1997, World Fisheries Trust and its partners in Clayoquot Sound took on the challenge of creating a plan for balanced enhancement of Kennedy Lake sockeye. Using DNA fingerprinting methods, three main genetic groups were identified as specific to Kannedy Lake sockeye: Muriel Lake, Upper Kennedy River, Kennedy Lake and tributaries. These results mean that there must be separate management, conservation and enhancement strategies for each of the three groups. This information has been critical in allowing enhanced stocks to be fished selectively. more info
Today, few commercial fishing vessels (estimated to be less than 50) remain in the region and continue to fish for at least part of each season. However, without access to the few lucrative fisheries that remain (halibut, black cod, herring), the small boat fleet may eventually be financially squeezed out of the industry.
More recently, the emphasis of the industry has been on diversification, placing an increased emphasis on species other than salmon. It is now recognized that the value of each fishery needs to be maximized through onshore processing, niche market development and value-added product development.