Wild Salmon Day: Inspiring hope and action

In celebration of Wild Salmon Day, we take a close look at the situation of wild salmon in BC.

Today, June 1, is Wild Salmon Day. Established in 2019, Wild Salmon Day is a celebration of the diversity, abundance, and immense importance of wild salmon to the people and ecosystems of North America’s west coast.

Yet, these iconic and irreplaceable fish are facing a crisis. Decades of overfishing, habitat loss, hatchery impacts, climate change, and water pollution are pushing many salmon populations into steep decline. Chum salmon abundance on the Central Coast has plummeted by more than 90% since 1960. Sockeye returns to the Fraser have dropped below one million fish in recent years, compared to historical peak years where almost 20 million fish would return. Chinook salmon from many parts of the Fraser River watershed are also threatened or endangered, and these populations are all critical to the survival and recovery of endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

Of the roughly 450 genetically unique populations (called Conservation Units) of wild salmon in BC, those with enough data for status assessments show many at low abundance. 

For our Wild Salmon team, every day is Wild Salmon Day. Our work includes habitat restoration, policy, research, and monitoring to rebuild healthy wild salmon populations in wild rivers across the province. Today, we’re re-releasing our series of animated videos, The Ripple Effect, which aims to communicate some of the issues facing salmon in a creative and accessible manner and highlights solutions that we can implement now to address them. 

While the situation for wild salmon in BC may seem dire, there are thousands of people dedicating their lives to restoring these iconic fish to the landscape. Below you can read more about projects that are  being led by First Nations, community groups, scientists, municipalities, and NGOs to tackle the salmon crisis head-on. 

Okanagan Nation Alliance building drought resilience for wild salmon in the Okanagan Basin

Katzie First Nation restoring salmon habitat in the Upper Pitt Watershed

Community-led riparian habitat stewardship at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary

K’ómoks First Nation and City of Courtenay partner to restore habitat at Kus-Kus-sum, Comox Estuary.

Raincoast and partners are restoring estuary habitat on the delta of the Fraser River

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.