Wild salmon program
Misty MacDuffee, Biologist, Wild Salmon Program Director
Dave Scott, Biologist, Lower Fraser Research and Restoration Coordinator
Kristen Walters, Biologist, Lower Fraser River Program Coordinator
Pacific salmon are ‘foundation’ species. This is different from the more familiar term keystone species. A keystone species has an influence on its environment that is disproportionate to its abundance. Like the keystone in a masonry arch, its removal can have a strong effect on the surrounding community. In the Pacific northwest, species like sea stars, sea otters, and wolves are considered keystone species.
A foundation species, on the other hand, is important because of the role it plays due to its sheer biomass in the ecosystem, and the strong influence this has on structuring a community. Foundation species support ecosystem structure, process and organisms from the bottom up. Foundation species can be plants or animals with many species relying on them, but not disproportionately to their abundance, it’s because of their abundance. On the Pacific Northwest coast, the collective group of salmon species (chum, pink, etc), herring, and giant kelp are examples of foundation species.
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. Conservation Units 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 (in watersheds and the ocean), 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, public policy and on-the-ground initiatives.
Raincoast’s wild salmon initiatives are the product of coordinated strategies between diverse groups including First Nations, coastal communities, academic institutions (such as UVic, UBC 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
Researchers from Wild Fish Conservancy, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, and the University of Montana are proposing an alternative framework for certifying wild salmon. The alternative is explained in a paper published in journal FACETS, by Canadian Science Publishing, titled “Criteria for…
This paper, lead by scientists at Simon Fraser University and co-authored by two Raincoast biologists, examines whether progress on the conservation of Pacific salmon has been furthered since the adoption of Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy (WSP) in 2005. The study…
Read moreRead this article (PDF) A new study, the “Ecology of conflict: Marine food supply affects human-wildlife interactions on land” published in the journal Scientific Reports, finds that in areas with spawning salmon and grizzly bears, bear-human conflict is higher…
New study shows the benefits from higher numbers of pink and chum salmon on spawning coho. Research was conducted by Michelle Nelson, PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University in partnership with Raincoast. Paper: Nelson, Michelle C. and John D. Reynolds…
Coho salmon: pinks’ and chums’ eating cousin Fro release: June 9, 2014 Vancouver, BC: It’s generations away from qualifying as cannibalism, but newly published research co-authored by two Simon Fraser University and Raincoast Conservation Foundation scientists shows juvenile coho salmon…
Report to the Government of British Columbia from the Government-appointed Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture, volume 1. The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. ISBN 978-0-7726-5787-9 SPSA Final Report Vol 1
Report to the Government of British Columbia from the Government-appointed Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture, volume 2. The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. ISBN 978-0-7726-5787-9 Appendix – Economic Impact Study SPSA Final Vol 2
This report documents 127 previously undocumented salmon-bearing streams surveyed on BC’s central coast between 2003-2006 in Heiltsuk Territory. Small Streams Survey Report (PDF) Summary Small stream surveys were carried out by members of the Heiltsuk Nation, volunteers, and…
The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate whether it is feasible to undertake a large-scale juvenile salmon migration mapping project on the central coast. View the report in .PDF
This report describes the role of small salmon runs in the overall structure and genetics of salmon populations. It is a response to the increased effort of federal monitoring of large salmon-bearing streams, at the expense and health of small…
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.