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CENTRAL COAST FIRST NATIONS AND PACIFIC SALMON FOUNDATION COLLABORATION SHEDS LIGHT ON STATUS OF WILD PACIFIC SALMON ON BC’S CENTRAL COAST
 
“But Significant Information Gaps Mean More Work is Needed to Fully Understand 
Biological Status of Key Species”
 
 A new study undertaken by First Nations and the Pacific Salmon Foundation has provided significant new insights into wild Pacific salmon along the Central Coast of British Columbia. However, it also reveals that more information is needed to understand the complete situation for more than half of the 114 ecologically, geographically, and genetically distinct groups of wild salmon found on the Central Coast, including 62 of 84 sockeye populations. 
 
“The results of this project underscore the urgent need for long-term investment in salmon monitoring and assessment on the Central Coast, particularly for sockeye salmon that have little to no information for most populations,” said Katrina Connors, Director, Salmon Watersheds Program for the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Many of these sockeye populations utilize small coastal lakes that dot the outer coastal islands and inlets of the Central Coast. Their remote location makes them inherently difficult, and costly, to monitor.  As a result, for the majority (approximately 70%) of sockeye, little is known about their current status or how it may be changing over time in response to environmental variability and human actions. 
 
Maintaining salmon biodiversity is a central tenet of the federal government’s Wild Salmon Policy (WSP). Through strategies that require the monitoring and assessment of all salmon species, the WSP provides a framework for protecting the genetic diversity among salmon populations that is essential to the long-term viability of these species and is the basis for future salmon production. Unfortunately, in recent decades, a lack of adequate funding has constrained monitoring and meant that only the largest, and most accessible, populations are monitored. This declining investment undermines the ability to evaluate the current state of salmon in this region, and to identify where conservation and management intervention may be required to support recovery of salmon production and sustain fisheries.

 

“Given their deep knowledge of salmon populations, in combination with their close proximity to many salmon populations, Central Coast First Nations are well positioned to play a leadership role in annual salmon monitoring and assessment activities,” added Dr. Brian Riddell, President and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation. “However, unless additional funds are provided to them, I fear that the lack of standardized and accessible data will continue to impede management and conservation decisions for Pacific salmon on BC’s Central Coast.”

 

This project continues the PSF’s investment in making ‘salmon data’ publicly accessible through the Pacific Salmon Explorer (an on-line platform available at www.salmonexplorer.ca).  This platform provides the most comprehensive source of data for salmon production, state of their habitats, and trends in production over time.  All of the data and assessment results are visualized and made freely available to the public.
 
This project is the product of a 2-year collaboration between Central Coast First Nations including the Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Wuikinuxv and Gitxaala, Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the PSF’s Salmon Watersheds Program, and other regional salmon experts. The project collaborators were unified by a shared belief in the importance of good scientific information about salmon populations and their habitats and the role of this information in supporting evidence-based decision-making for wild Pacific salmon. 
 
“This project has been instrumental in identifying critical data gaps and determining where additional monitoring efforts are required to improve our understanding of salmon populations that are socially, culturally, and economically important to First Nations communities of the Central Coast.”  (Mike Reid, Fisheries Manager, Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department, Heiltsuk First Nation).
 

 

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For more information contact: 
Pacific Salmon Foundation: Katrina Connors, Director, Salmon Watersheds Program, Pacific Salmon Foundation: kconnors@psf.ca; (250) 598-8001 or (604) 839-5242.
 
Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance:  Alejandro Frid, Science Coordinator, Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance, alejfrid@gmail.com; (604) 358-2031.

 

About the Pacific Salmon Foundation:
The Pacific Salmon Foundation was created in 1987 as an independent, non-governmental, charitable organization to protect, conserve and rebuild Pacific Salmon populations in British Columbia and the Yukon. The Foundation’s mission is to be the trusted voice for conservation and restoration of wild Pacific salmon and their ecosystems and works to bring salmon back stream by stream through the strategic use of resources and local communities. www.psf.ca 

 

About the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance:
In 2010, the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations formally came together to establish the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA). Through the development of Nation-driven marine plans and the harmonization of stewardship interests among the four-member Nations, our Nations have reasserted our rights to manage our ocean territories and have been the drivers of ground-breaking initiatives with other governments. In doing so, our Nations have developed a model for integrating western science and traditional knowledge that is helping to drive more sustainable management of fisheries within our territories.

 

PROJECT BACKGROUNDER

  • For all Pacific salmon species on the BC Central Coast, the overarching project objectives were to: 
    • compile the best available data for describing the dynamics and characteristics of salmon populations; 
    • acquire data related to regional scale pressures on freshwater salmon habitats; 
    • assess the risk of degradation to salmon habitats from cumulative habitat pressures;
    • examine temporal trends in salmon populations and conduct assessments of their biological status;
    • integrate all data and assessments into the Pacific Salmon Explorer. 
  • This project was guided by two Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) that provided feedback on the study methodology, provided local expert knowledge on salmon spawning locations and key pressures on their habitat, and groundtruthed the assessment results.
  • This project brings together a unique combination of local expert knowledge, Indigenous knowledge, and western science approaches to assess salmon populations and their habitats.
  • This research was funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Government of Canada through Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Coastal Restoration Fund, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program and the WillowGrove Foundation.

Media Contacts

For media inquiries contact:
Jollean Willington
Manager, Media and Public Relations
jwillington@psf.ca
778 - 881 - 7792