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

Australian gold mining giant acquires Red Chris mine

Newcrest now owns 70 per cent of the mine south of Iskut and operatorship

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

Body of ATV rider recovered from bottom of Terrace trail

BC Coroners Service investigating death of man in his 70s

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Most Read