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Wild Salmon Program

Misty MacDuffee, Biologist, Wild Salmon Program Director
Dave Scott, Biologist, Lower Fraser Research and Restoration Coordinator

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 Work

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.

Some current projects are:

Fraser Estuary Research

A vision for salmon habitat

Habitat Restoration

Stop Terminal 2 Expansion

Salmon Papers →

Salmon Reports →

Support Raincoast’s Salmon Conservation Efforts

Latest News

A school of red salmon are visible underwater with a beach and forest in the background.

Join us for a webinar on Salmon as a keystone species on the coast

Join us on this week’s Coastal Insights as we take a look at the pivotal role salmon play in our world while considering the challenges to the long-term resilience of salmon populations.

A tiny juvenile Chinook salmon in a viewfinder in the Lower Fraser River.

Chinook salmon exhibit long-term rearing and early marine growth in the Fraser River, B.C., a large urban estuary

Using tiny salmon ear bones, or otoliths, Raincoast researchers and partners were able to demonstrate that Chinook salmon from Harrison River rely on the Fraser estuary for one to two months while they feed and grow. These findings underscore the critical nature of this habitat for the persistence and recovery of Chinook salmon…

A hand holding an estuary plant.

Bringing a stewardship program to my home community

Summer student, Robin Buss, worked with Raincoast Conservation Foundation to bring a stewardship program to her home community, the Tsawwassen First Nation…

A wolf walks along the beach.

Tracking Raincoast’s impact through 2020

These conservation efforts and our research have reached millions around the world. Tangible conservation success. 2020 was not all bad – let’s make 2021 even better…

The cover of Tracking Raincoast into 2021 over top of a photo of a spirit bear with a salmon in their mouth.

Tracking Raincoast into 2021

Like everyone else in 2020, we have had to adapt and explore our own resilience. From pausing multi-year field research programs, cancelling youth education and our usual travel throughout the coast, COVID has disrupted much. Yet we are grateful to have our health and play our part in protecting and supporting the communities, businesses, and individuals we work with…

Past projects

a salmon half out of the water while trying to swim upstreamRaincoast’s 2008 Ghost Runs paper (CJFAS) and 2017 update (CJFAS) found that salmon runs have repeatedly failed to meet their escapement targets – meaning that not enough fish are returning to spawn

Raincoast researcher studies a salmon bearing streamRaincoast’s Small Stream Surveys document the existence of hundreds of small streams that support salmon, yet are not catalogued federally or provincially.

In paMeasuring a fish on a small gridrtnership 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 paA small fry covered in parasitesrtnership 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.