Wild Salmon Program
Misty MacDuffee, Biologist
Dave Scott, Biologist
Salmon are an important food and cultural focus for First Nations and coastal communities; they are also 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 critical food to wildlife, and nutrients to the ecosystem.
Raincoast’s Wild Salmon Program is focused on ensuring that BC’s 450+ unique and irreplaceable Conservation Units of wild salmon persist over their historic range at spawner abundance levels suitable to meet the needs of wildlife and ecosystems. CUs consist of thousands of spawning populations from hundreds of coastal rivers and watersheds across BC.
BC salmon face multiple obstacles. Domestic and international harvest, habitat loss (including watershed development), interactions with hatchery and cultured salmon and climate change can individually and cumulatively reduce the abundance of spawning salmon. We address these issues through academic, community, policy and on-the-ground initiativess.
Raincoast’s wild salmon initiatives are the product of coordinated strategies between diverse groups including First Nations, coastal communities, academic institutions (like UVic and SFU) and other NGOs. Our policy recommendations and advocacy on behalf of salmon conservation and wildlife are informed by our research.
Raincoast’s 2008 Ghost Runs paper (CJFAS) and 2002 Ghost Runs Report found that salmon runs have repeatedly failed to meet their escapement targets – meaning that not enough fish are returning to spawn.
Raincoast’s Small Stream Surveys document the existence of hundreds of small streams that support salmon, yet are not catalogued federally or provincially.
In partnership with SFU, the Chum & Coho Stream Ecology project found that juvenile coho abundance is up to 3x higher in streams that have pink and chum runs compared to streams that don’t.
In partnership with SFU and the UVic, the Juvenile Salmon Ecology Project found that salmon farms on the migration routes of juvenile salmon disrupt survival of sockeye, chum and pink salmon.
Provincial Wild Salmon Secretariat needs a focus on habitat
In order to recover and sustainably manage depleted wild salmon populations, place-based management and the restoration of salmon watersheds is the best way forward given the changing environmental conditions that confront these fish and the value that British Columbians place on them.
Salmonid species diversity predicts salmon consumption by terrestrial wildlife
Research by scientists at Spirit Bear Research Foundation, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, and the University of Victoria, led by Christina Service, shows that salmon species diversity – the number of spawning salmon species available – is far more important and positively related to salmon consumption in coastal black bears than biomass abundance…
Fraser estuary research completed for 2018
After a long five months we have now wrapped up our 2018 field season in the Fraser estuary, our best year yet! This year our team spent 76 days in the field and we captured more than 35,000 fish, including over 6,400 juvenile salmon. While it has been a long and hot season with a […]
Heart of the Fraser: Ecological stronghold faces imminent threat
The Fraser River is an incredibly productive and important ecosystem which has supported abundant populations of salmon and sturgeon for thousands of years. However, in a few short centuries humans have drastically modified habitats throughout the watershed…
Moving marine-derived nutrients from the sea to the land
The aim of this research is to inform salmon management strategies given the importance of allowing adults to return to their natal streams to spawn. Considering this life cycle is imperative for management agencies…