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Wild salmon in the Great Bear Rainforest, BC, Canada

Wild Salmon Program

, Biologist: Salmon and Fisheries
Andy Rosenburger, Biologist and researcher

Why Wild Salmon?

Salmon are not only an important food and cultural focus for First Nations and communities, they are the foundation of British Columbia’s coastal ecosystems. For millions of years, Pacific salmon have journeyed back to their natal streams and lakes to spawn, delivering a critical protein source to wildlife, and nutrients to ecosystem processes.

Wild salmon in the Great Bear Rainforest, BC CanadaThe Great Bear Rainforest is home to over 2,500 salmon runs.  Many of these rivers are still intact, offering a unique opportunity to study the linkages between salmon and the larger food web. However salmon in this region are faced with increasing threats many of which have depressed and extirpated salmon populations throughout the Pacific Northwest. The following activities can threaten the abundance and/or diversity of wild salmon:

  • MSY fishing models, over-fishing and mixed-stock fisheries,
  • parasites & disease from salmon farms
  • changing ocean processes and climatic conditions,
  • habitat loss (from logging, development and hydro projects),
  • salmon enhancement (from hatcheries or spawning channels)

Raincoast’s Work

Raincoast’s wild salmon initiatives are the product of coordinated strategies between diverse groups including First Nations, coastal communities, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, UC Santa Cruz,  other academic institutions and other NGOs. Our policy recommendations and advocacy on behalf of salmon conservation and wildlife is informed by our research.

Active Projects

Salmon Carnivore Project
Examines the relationship between the health of coastal grizzlies and salmon abundance.

Juvenile Salmon Ecology Project
Examines whether salmon farms situated along the migration routes of juvenile salmon are disrupting survival of sockeye, chum and pink salmon.

Fisheries Management and the Wild Salmon Policy
Examines fisheries models and their appropriateness to accomplish the objectives of DFO’s Wild Salmon Policy.

Chum and Coho Stream Ecology Project
Examines connections between coho fry and the eggs and carcasses of spawning chum salmon in coastal streams.

Small Streams Surveys
Identifying and documenting small salmon streams not previously known for salmon presence.

Paleolimnology of Sockeye Lakes
Examines the influences of fishing pressure, nutrients, climate and other factors that can effect abundance of sockeye salmon.

Scientific Papers

Evidence of farm-induced parasite infestations on wild juvenile salmon in multiple regions of coastal British Columbia, Canada

Published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, November 2010

Salmon for Terrestrial Protected Areas Published in Conservation Letters, October 2010

Applications of Paleolimnology to sockeye salmon nursery lakes in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska (2009)


Proceedings of a workshop at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney BC October  2008

Ghost Runs: Management and status assessment of Pacific salmon returning to British Columbia’s central and north coasts.

Published in Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Dec 2008

Popular Reports

Juvenile Salmon Migration Mapping Report (2007)

Raincoast investigated juvenile salmon habitat use along BC’s central coast in order to identify primary migration routes. This is a pilot year report.

Small Streams Report 2003-2006 (2006)

This report documents 127 previously undocumented salmon-bearing streams surveyed on BC’s central coast between 2003-2006.

Death by a Thousand Cuts: The importance of small streams on British Columbia’s central and north coasts (2005)

This report describes the role of small salmon runs in the overall structure and genetics of salmon populations. It is a response to the increased effort of federal monitoring of large salmon-bearing streams, at the expense and health of small runs.

Salmon in the Great Bear Rainforest (2005)

This popular summary gives an overview of the importance of salmon in the ecosystem and Raincoast’s work to protect their abundance and diversity.

Ghost Runs: The Future of wild salmon on BC’s north and central coasts (2002, Original Report)

An assessment of wild salmon status, threats and the necessary changes to ensure the survival of wild salmon in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Popular Writing

Seaside Times – See you in September September 2009

Island Tides – Chris Genovali Silent Fall Dec 2008

Monday Magazine – Silent Fall: BC’s vanishing wild salmon means trouble for all Nov 2008

Georgia Strait -Chris Genovali Calculating the true cost of salmon farming April 2008

Media and News Coverage