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AW - Underwater close up of a salmon head

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

Salmon smolt underwater.

Restoring the upper Pitt River

On three, we haul the lead line in. One, two, three!  I kneel in the stream holding up the seine net and begin combing through debris of leaves, sticks and small rocks, looking for flashes of silver amongst the dull colours.  Coho! My colleague, Ian Hamilton, a Fisheries Biologist and Habitat Restoration Department Head at […]

Misty MacDuffee in the Fraser Estuary

Federal Minister presses pause on Terminal 2

In a six page letter (PDF) to the CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Canada’s minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, requested more information from the Port to assess the effectiveness of mitigation efforts in the proposed expansion of Terminal 2 on Roberts Bank. Wikinson’s letter conveyed the panel’s conclusion about likely adverse effects to fish, fish habitat and other at-risk species if Terminal 2 proceeds…

Dave Scott holding viewfinder with salmon smolt

Monitoring an active restoration project… in a pandemic

Just as we were getting excited about starting our field season to monitor the effectiveness of Raincoast’s Fraser Estuary Connectivity Project, conditions with the pandemic began to get serious and we realized our plans had to change…

The trains and containers on the causeway to Terminal 2.

US organizations call on Washington State to oppose Canada’s Terminal 2 expansion in the Salish Sea

41 environmental and sustainability organizations in Washington State have written Governor Jay Inslee (PDF) asking him to oppose RBT2 on behalf of Washingtonians and the environmental, cultural and economic resources of Washington state…

Killer whales swim by Saturna island

Terminal 2 Backgrounder: Impacts on Southern Resident killer whales

The shipping expansion at the Deltaport terminal will place further stress on the Fraser estuary that has already lost more than 70% of its natural habitat. Raincoast is particularly concerned about the impacts from the terminal on Fraser Chinook salmon and Southern Resident killer whales…

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.