Chinook salmon are tagged and transported above the rockslide in B.C.’s Fraser Canyon, July 19, 2019. (B.C. government)

Salmon moved to B.C. hatchery as Fraser River landslide work continues

4,300 sockeye and chinook transported upstream of Big Bar

After airlifting thousands of fish above a landslide in B.C.’s Fraser Canyon, fisheries biologists have begun capturing members of threatened salmon runs to raise their offspring in a hatchery.

In a pilot program that began this weekend, B.C. and federal experts captured and identified 177 Early Stuart sockeye, which begin and end their life cycle on the Stuart Lake system near Fort St. James in northwestern B.C. The captured fish have been taken to a Fisheries and Oceans Canada salmon research lab at Cultus Lake near Chilliwack for egg and sperm extraction and hatching.

Transfer of salmon by helicopter upstream of the slide continues, while a team performs the delicate work of dismantling the rock deposit that created a five-metre waterfall across the crucial Fraser Canyon stretch north of Big Bar on June 23. The scaling crew is using hydraulic jacks and inflatable airbags to move large boulders in selected areas to create a natural fish passage on the edge of the fast-flowing river.

Controlled blasting was used July 22 to remove a large loose rock at the site that couldn’t be dislodged by the scaling crew with hand tools. As of Sunday, the joint federal-provincial emergency crew reports that 4,300 sockeye and Chinook have been transported above the slide site to continue their journey into the B.C. Interior.

Fishing restrictions on chinook salmon are in place, in some cases to preserve the largest fish that have the best chance of making it up-river past the blockage. Runs that come up the Fraser River include Interior Fraser steelhead (Chilcotin), Spring and Summer Chinook, Interior Fraser coho, Early Stuart sockeye, Early Summer sockeye, Summer Run sockeye and Fraser pink salmon.

RELATED: Chinook size limits aim to preserve larger salmon

VIDEO: Drone footage of the Big Bar landslide

The joint U.S.-Canada Fraser River Panel had its latest meeting Friday to assess data on Fraser River sockeye and pinks. Based on counts undertaken at Mission, the panel estimates that as of Friday, 38,000 sockeye reached the Big Bar site, of which 23,000 were Early Stuart sockeye.

A fish wheel has also been put in place to help fish pass the slide area, along with more than 2,300 sockeye and Chinook transported upstream by helicopter as of Aug. 1. The Big Bar slide adds to an already difficult year for salmon runs, particularly the commercially valuable sockeye.

“The migration of sockeye through both marine and Fraser River assessment areas has been very low to date, as indicated by the low sockeye catches in all areas,” the panel states in its weekly report. “In addition to abundances being very low, the migration timing seems much later than anticipated pre-season as well as in previous cycle years.”

All panel area waters on both sides of the international border remain closed to commercial salmon fishing, along with catch-and-release restrictions for recreational fishing off the B.C. coast.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Saanich police first in B.C. to offer mental health resiliency training

Departments from Oak Bay, Saanich, Central Saanich complete trauma training class

Nanaimo blues musician’s mother’s home burglarized and ransacked

Judy Woodruff discovers bedroom of home in south Nanaimo turned upside-down; jewelry and art stolen

Vancouver Island man in Russia to reshape the future of hockey

NHL official Rob Schick talks to IIHF about switching European rule book to NHL rules

Couple collecting empties to feed VIU scholarship fund can’t pick up cans on campus anymore

Parmars have been picking up cans for 12 years; university now enforcing safety policy

VIDEO: Kenney lays out key demands for meeting with Trudeau

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney aims for clear signs of federal action on two-day Ottawa trip

Technical difficulties delay Victoria’s $500,000 Christmas light village

The Lights of Wonder display was originally set to open on Dec. 13

Striking loggers get space at North Island Mall

Space gives union members a Port Hardy base of operations to collect donations, talk to public

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular returns to Vancouver Island for 13th year

Festive stage production brings variety of dance and musical styles to Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay

Firefighters called to burning motorhome on Nanaimo’s waterfront

Nanaimo Fire Rescue extinguishes blaze Monday afternoon on Esplanade and Irwin Street

Victoria council chambers packed for ongoing environmental cruise ship discussions

Union workers, neighbourhood associations and more gathered for environmental conversations

Vancouver Island veterinarian heading to Africa with Veterinarians Without Borders

Dr. Roberta Templeton and her vet husband will help dairy farmers in Uganda

Most Read