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
Salmon declines could have long-term effects on grizzly bear health, conclude authors of a study published today in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. The researchers examined stress and reproductive hormones of salmon-eating grizzly bears from coastal British Columbia. Their results,…
Raincoast’s Dr. Caroline Fox and UVic’s Dr. Tom Reimchen have published a study examining bears, forests and trees in BMC Ecology. The study examines the influence of salmon nutrients on the ancient Sitka spruce trees of Haida Gwaii. 19168
Raincoast’s Michael Price and SFU’s John Reynolds respond to comments by DFO scientists Richard Beamish and Simon Jones. The comments were published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 13339
A new study, published in the journal PLoS Biology by scientists at Raincoast and the University of California-Santa Cruz has found that providing more spawning salmon to grizzlies also benefits salmon, the ecosystem and in several cases even fisheries yields. …
A study published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE by researchers from Raincoast, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University provides the first link between salmon farms and elevated levels of sea lice on juvenile…
M.H.H. Price, A. Morton, and J.D. Reynolds. 2010. Evidence of farm-induced parasite infestations on wild juvenile salmon in multiple regions of coastal British Columbia, Canada. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 67: 1925–1932 Download the paper Price etal 2010 Farm-induced lice…
This report is a critical assessment of protection for key wildlife & salmon habitats under the proposed BC Central Coast Land & Resource Management Plan undertaken by Dr. Paul Paquet, Dr. Chris Darimont, Dr. John Nelson and Katrina Bennett. The…
Raincoast’s recently published report on BC’s salmon stocks says new ways of managing Pacific salmon must be implemented if wild salmon, and the food web that depends on salmon, are to remain on BC’s central and north coasts. The report…
Authored by Dr. Brian Horejsi, Losing Ground analyzes the respective conservation enforcement capabilities of coastal BC and southeast Alaska. A comparison of the two jurisdictions reveals an enormous gap in enforcement capability between BC and Alaska. In every component compared,…
Authored by Dr. Brian Horejsi, Losing Ground analyzes the respective conservation enforcement capabilities of coastal BC and southeast Alaska. A comparison of the two jurisdictions reveals an enormous gap in enforcement capability between BC and Alaska. View the report in…
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.