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

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Three projects on the North Coast awarded funding

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Hagensborg Water District purchases new fire truck; prepares for conversion to CCRD

Approximately $1.3 million of the district’s infrastructure grant has been transferred to the CCRD.

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read