New Conservation Projects for Declining Pacific Salmon Stocks

Brittany Webster

Warming waters throughout the province are playing a major role in declining salmon stocks according to the department of fisheries and oceans' State of Canadian Pacific Salmon publication released today.

Canda is warming at twice the global rate, with the previous five years being the warmest on record, and Sue Grant, the State of Salmon Program Head, says the warmer temperatures have multiple affects on BC salmon, like increasing metabolism and energy requirements, but it also takes a toll on the salmon's food source.

"Less nutritious, smaller zooplankton that are typically found at latitudes South of British Columbia in the ocean were found in our waters during this warmer period. And our typically larger Northern zooplankton that have large fat reserves that are typically found in our waters were less abundant during this warming period. So this shift in zooplankton composition towards these smaller, less nutritious species represents a deterioration in food quality for the salmon food web."

Although the rising temperatures are more severe in the Southern parts of the province, the Skeena River has seen an increase in water temperature and DFO says management measures had to be taken, specifically for sockeye, to ensure the fish could make it to their spawning grounds.

The DFO says 2019 has been a challenging year for all pacific salmon, and today the federal fisheries minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced $2.7 million in funding for five new projects through the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund.

[PHOTO:   Jonathan Wilkinson, Federal Fisheries Minister -- in Vancouver August 22, 2019]  

The purpose of these projects is to restore and enhance salmon habitats and secure the sustainability of wild pacific salmon. The projects include research and surveys as well as the development of electronic fishing tools such as a mobile app.

The State of Canadian Pacific Salmon report states, however, that climate change isn't the only factor in declining stocks. Human activity is speeding up the decline as agriculture, forestry practices, urbanization and other land use activities can have negative effects.

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