The Salmon Goddess

Dr. Misty MacDuffy measures salmon fry at a stream bank.At Raincoast Conservation Foundation, biologist Misty MacDuffee is known as The Salmon Goddess. Misty has gained this appellation not only for the expertise she has developed in salmonid ecology, but also for her passion and dedication as an advocate for these amazing fish.

Misty has worked at Raincoast for over a decade, with her primary focus being salmon conservation. Her duties have involved field research, such as analyzing sediment cores she extracted from the bottom of Owikeno Lake in order to tease out the history of fishing, climate and other factors that can impact salmon abundance. Misty is also immersed in the policy realm, serving on a federal fisheries committee that determines harvest allocations for the salmon fishery. In addition, she sits on a management committee that oversees salmon and watershed planning in Rivers and Smith Inlets on the central coast. Misty’s salmon work has also resulted in the publication of important peer-reviewed science, usually published with her colleagues at Raincoast. She is trying to ensure a truly sustainable fishery, not just for humans, but for the entire ecosystem.

One of the key motivations for Misty’s work is the importance of salmon to wildlife and the coastal watersheds that support them. She argues that more salmon must be allowed past fisherman’s nets and hooks and into the jaws of hungry whales and bears. Despite her efforts, she has serious concerns for the future of wild salmon. “We are paving their watershed habitats where they spawn and changing the ocean that feeds them,” says Misty. “And the root cause is an economic system based upon unlimited growth on a finite planet. At what point do we acknowledge that this system, which converts natural environments to commodities, is failing us?”

Prior to her tenure at Raincoast, Misty worked for Peninsula Streams based out of the Institute of Ocean Sciences and as the lead campaigner on local and international forestry issues for the Wilderness Committee in Victoria. A founding member of the Land Conservancy of BC, in her “spare time” Misty serves as the current chair of the Gulf Islands Alliance.

Did You Know?
Some Fraser River sockeye salmon swim upstream the equivalent of twelve full marathons. Raincoast is an official pledge charity of the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon (formerly known as the Royal Victoria Marathon) and Misty is our running ambassador for this year’s race which takes place October 10th.

A version of this article first appeared in the Seaside Times August 2010 Issue.

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