Recovering wild salmon through collaborative conservation

An excerpt from Tracking Raincoast into 2022.

The Fraser is one of the world’s greatest salmon rivers. Despite the Lower Fraser representing only 5% of the entire watershed, it supports more than half of the watershed’s Chinook and chum, 65% of its coho, 80% of its pink, and significant populations of sockeye salmon.

Since European colonization however, salmon habitats in the Lower Fraser have undergone a vast transformation, drastically reducing the quantity and quality of these habitats. Ongoing industrialization, urbanization, and agriculture, combined with climate change threaten to push salmon populations past a tipping point. 

Raincoast is addressing these threats through our Lower Fraser Salmon Conservation program. Our goal is to see healthy populations of wild salmon returning to the Lower Fraser River to support the wildlife, ecosystems, and people that rely on them. Implementing this means having both feet in two different streams.

One stream focuses on conducting scientific research to better understand habitat use, and then uses this to inform habitat restoration projects like the one conducted in the Fraser estuary. The other stream engages a wide variety of collaborators to advance specific conservation efforts that would further ecological resilience.

In 2022, we will also advance our work to restore biodiversity in Lower Fraser salmon habitats. In collaboration with our Indigenous partners, the Healthy Waters program will create a community-based water pollution project that ensures clean water in the habitats of salmon and Southern Resident killer whales. 

Our Salmon for Wildlife component will conduct research that will gather scientific data on grey wolves and grizzly bears [you read that right, we are studying these species in the Lower Fraser!] and will use this information to inform management that improves their welfare and reflects their ecological role on the landscape. Together, these approaches will help restore Fraser River salmon habitats and support the species and people that depend on them. 

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.