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

Just Posted

New ‘Patio Portal’ planned for Cowichan Bay

Project will improve public access to the Cowichan Bay waterfront

What you said: Pay for use water a controversial topic

Public works crews have been busy for the last four years installing water meters

Pair of 11-year-old Cowichan highland dancers heading to Virginia for competition

Amelia Marsh and Maya Sundstrom are excited about the possibilities

Chris Wilkinson column: Where are you on the Happiness U-Curve?

With age and maturity, the focus turns away from social competition and toward social connection.

VIDEO: ‘Thrones,’ ‘Fleabag’ top Emmys

Billy Porter makes history as first openly gay black man to win best drama-series acting Emmy

B.C. police chief to speak to Liberal candidate after second ad appears featuring photo of officer

Jati Sidhu had said an ad with the same photo posted last Friday was ‘not appropriate’

Tour de Rock ride kicks off in the North Island

I would ride all day in the rain if it means raising money to help these kids”

Three B.C. moms to launch CBD-infused water

Three friends say benefits may include anxiety relief, pain management

B.C. students empowered to ‘shift the vote’ this election

B.C. Federation of Students launches ‘Our Time is Now’ campaign

Justice rules B.C. man gave statement of own free will

Defence wanted Vernon’s Curtis Sagmoen’s video interview with police deemed inadmissible

MEC and LUSH stores to close on Friday for global climate strikes

Retailers will be closed on Sept. 27 so that staff can march in demonstrations

Hybrid vessels part of B.C. Ferries’ plans to reduce emissions

Island Class vessels, coming by 2022, part of ferry corporation’s broader strategy

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Most Read