Chum Salmon Makes Strong Return

Not what you’re looking for? Find more fishing stories!

This past fall, BC Lower Mainland residents and environmental stewards such as Streamkeepers reported strong returns of chum salmon in many urban streams, in some cases for the first time in decades. Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Salmonid Enhancement Program has been working for more than 30 years with community volunteers and Streamkeepers to re-establish self-sustaining salmon runs in many of these urban streams, where salmon stocks have been affected by pollution and urban development.

In Vancouver, observers reported about a dozen chum salmon spawning in Still Creek, where salmon have not been seen for many decades. The same surprise met people at Stoney Creek in northeast Burnaby, where many hundreds of chum were counted by local Streamkeepers, and in Squamish, where local fish enthusiasts observed chum in Loggers Lane Creek for the first time in years, and in Finch and Mashiter creeks and Quest Channel. On the South Alouette River in Maple Ridge, a record 140,000 chum have been counted, more than five times greater than last year’s 25,000 chum. And in the Stave River in Mission, local citizens have seen hundreds of thousands of chum spawners where a few existed just decades ago.

These streams have been the focus of habitat restoration and salmon rebuilding efforts by the Salmonid Enhancement Program and its many partners. While the factors influencing salmon returns are many and complex, this work is making an important contribution. For example, Fisheries and Oceans Canada estimates that in 2012, more than 500,000 wild salmon will spawn in fish habitat throughout the Lower Mainland that has benefitted from habitat restoration projects by the Salmonid Enhancement Program.

In Squamish, a broad and diverse collaborative initiative including Squamish City Council has invested more than $500,000 in the past seven years to restore Loggers Creek as productive salmon habitat. The Tenderfoot Hatchery has released chum salmon into the restored Loggers Creek watershed to help the species recover and become a self-sustaining population. A series of sidechannels has also been built around the Mamquam River, Ashlu River and near the North Vancouver Outdoor School.

Last year, Metro Vancouver installed a new fishway at the Cariboo Dam that makes it easier for migrating chum salmon to swim upstream past Stoney Creek to the Upper Brunette River watershed, including Still Creek. This investment, coupled with decades of work by volunteers from the Stoney Creek Environmental Committee and the Sapperton Fish and Game Club have helped rebuild salmon runs and improve fish habitat in the Brunette River and its tributaries.

The Stave River has benefitted from efforts by BC Hydro and its many stakeholders to improve water flows released from the Stave Dam. At the same time, the Salmonid Enhancement Program worked with partners to recontour the river’s gravel bars to take advantage of the improved water flows and increase the amount of available spawning habitat for salmon.

These are some of the many efforts underway across British Columbia by the Salmonid Enhancement Program, working in close collaboration with more than 10,000 volunteers and Streamkeepers, as well as First Nations, industry, community and conservation groups, school groups, landowners and other government agencies. Working together for the benefit of fish, these groups are restoring fish habitat, cleaning up streams, releasing young salmon into streams, removing barriers to fish migration and raising public awareness about local salmon populations. Fisheries and Oceans Canada would like to acknowledge the hard work of all our partners in contributing to the strong returns of chum salmon.

Join us on Facebook!

Do you like what you’re reading? Subscribe to Western Sportsman print edition today!

Find more fishing stories!

This entry was posted in Fishing, General, Latest News, News & Events and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.