Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vancouver Island Salmon in Big Trouble

Vancouver Island is home to hundreds of salmon bearing streams. Historically the many rivers on the island have supported robust runs of pink, chum, coho, chinook, winter steelhead, summer steelhead and in some systems sockeye and dolly varden. Over the last several decades however, logging, changing ocean conditions and tremendous growth in the fish farming industry have led to massive declines in salmon populations around the island. This year, Chinook and Sockeye in Clayoquot Sound are at levels so low that local biologists worry they may be locally extinct within a few generations. Despite the fact that the area has some of the most pristine habitat on the West Coast of the Island and is a UNESCO world biosphere a number of large scale fish farms have been developed in the area in recent years. Check out an article out of Tofino's Westerly News on the crisis and the lack of funding for monitoring and recovery of wild salmon.

The Bedwell and Moyeha Rivers are two of the Island's most pristine watersheds. Despite fantastic habitat the five year average return of Chinook to the Bedwell is 100 fish. This year an estimted 33 chinook returned to the Bedwell. Declines of Sockeye returning to Kennedy Lake near tofino are down 90% over the last decade, declines worse than those seen on the Fraser during the same period.

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