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

Car giveaway set for MEI on Friday

One lucky alumni member will receive a new Mazda 3

How would crowded Fraser Valley hospitals deal with patient surge? Officials won’t say

Amid coronavirus case and crowding issues, health officials won’t say where more patients would go

Sasquatch Mountain Aussie Day celebration raises $800

Proceeds of bikini runs, toonie tosses and more go to wildfire victims

Abbotsford Police issue 81 speeding tickets in school zones over 2 days

‘30 in 30’ traffic-enforcement blitz took place last Thursday and Friday

Salvation Army kettle campaign raises $121,000 in Abbotsford

Christmas fundraising up $20,000 over previous year

VIDEO: Chilliwack arson victim lights up rural property like a runway

Chris Thompson had enough after twice having barns torched in suspicious circumstances

Party bus door fault for years ahead of Langley woman’s death: Coroner

Tuesday report classifed Chelsea James’ death accidental, but was critical of bus inspection process

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Most Read