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Northern Saskatchewan commercial fishers are becoming increasingly dependent on pickerel for their income.

The Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation paid out just over $4.2 million to Saskatchewan fishers in the last fiscal year — down slightly from the previous year, but still one of the best showings in recent years.

Returns on pickerel accounted for 63 per cent of that total, even though pickerel only made up 23 per cent of the deliveries from Saskatchewan.

The previous year, pickerel were responsible for just over 50 per cent of the total return Saskatchewan fishers received from the FFMC.

In 2012 — the first year after Saskatchewan fishers exited from Freshwater’s marketing monopoly — the percentage was 43 per cent.

Meanwhile, fishers from this province are in line to receive $348,666 in final payments — the highest figure since the end of FFMC’s monopoly in Saskatchewan.

The previous year, final payments to Saskatchewan fishers totalled $279,054.

Saskatchewan fishers didn’t receive any final payments in the first three years after they exited the FFMC’s monopoly.

The final payments are almost entirely due to pickerel deliveries.

Total deliveries to Freshwater from Saskatchewan this past fiscal year were just over 1.7 million kilograms, down from 2.1 million the previous year.

In fact, it was the lowest total since the province’s fishers hit the open market five years ago.