The fishing fleet bobs at the town wharf like a postcard come to life, giving no hint of the anger and despair building among those who sail the boats.

They are angry at American fishermen, accusing them of overfishing. They rail at Canada's government, viewing it as callous and ill-informed.Above all, they are bitter that their way of life - as self-reliant, small-town, salmon fishermen - seems almost on the verge of extinction, much like coho salmon.

"People here on this coast are absolutely terrified," said Mike Perkovich, a fisherman since he was 8.

Port Hardy, a town of 5,000 people near the northern tip of Vancouver Island, is one of dozens of seaside communities in British Columbia beset by an unprecedented crisis in the salmon industry.

Canadian authorities have severely limited all salmon fishing along Canada's Pacific coast to protect the endangered coho. Fish stocks have slumped from a variety of causes, from unusually warm water from El Nino disrupting the Pacific food chain to erosion on logged slopes choking salmon spawning beds inland.

And for the first time, salmon raised on fish farms is outselling salmon caught in the wild.

The result, in towns like Port Hardy, has been devastating, so wrenching, in fact, that suicide rates have jumped.