B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Federal fisheries experts are painting a devastating picture of the challenges facing Pacific salmon and point to climate change as the main culprit.

Andrew Thompson, regional director for fisheries management, says it’s been an extremely challenging year for salmon and there have been significant declines in a number of stocks.

He says the trend is also being seen in waters off Alaska and Washington state.

Fisheries staff say factors such as human activity that degrades fish habitat and a landslide on the Fraser River blocking millions of fish from spawning upstream are making things worse.

In one of the most dramatic shifts, the federal Department of Fisheries has adjusted the number of returning Fraser River sockeye to slightly more than 600,000, down from an earlier projection of nearly five million.

Sue Grant, head of a federal program on the state of salmon, says some of the declines are residual effects of larger climate change events.

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

“Everything we’re seeing in salmon and ecosystem trends is embedded within this larger context,” she said.

“The planet is warming and the most recent five years have been the warmest on the planet’s record,” she said, adding that Canada is warming at a rate double the global average and the rate increases at northern latitudes.

Climate events like “The Blob,” an enormous mass of warm water caused by a heat wave in the North Pacific, have had significant impacts on the food web, she said.

It prompted large fatty zooplankton, the primary food of Pacific salmon, to migrate north and be replaced by a much smaller, less nutritious species of plankton.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“Let’s break the silence because we can”

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s awareness walk held Saturday in Fort St. James

New community library aims to foster positive community feelings

Vanderhoof resident has set up a little library in front of her property at the end of Lebler Road.

Vanderhoof politician running for president of UBCM

Brian Frenkel, municipal councillor, was the first Vice-President for the Union of BC Municipalities in 2019.

“Nature defines my art”: Bethany Giesbrecht, painter

This story is part of a weekly series showcasing artists in the region

Vanderhoofian nominated for the Premier’s Awards

Phil Turgeon has been nominated by the Ministry of Children and Family Development under the Leadership category.

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Doctor slain in Alberta medical clinic was devoted father, husband

Red Deer doctors on edge after attack on colleague who had two young daughters

Most Read