New published Raincoast Conservation study shows the importance of different habitats to preserve fish biodiversity in the Fraser River estuary

Scientist wearing a red jacket stands with scientific equipment amidst green rushes beside the Fraser River with a sunny blue sky behind her.

Photo by Michael O Snyder

The Fraser River estuary supports a multitude of fish species, and is a crucial habitat for juvenile salmon from throughout the Fraser watershed. Currently however, more than 70% of the rearing habitat historically accessible to these salmon has been lost or disconnected. Estuaries are also comprised of different types of habitats, including eelgrasses, marshes and sand flats. ⠀

Researchers from the Raincoast Conservation and the University of Victoria studied how different fish use these distinct but connected habitats within the Fraser River estuary to understand their relative importance for different fish species. Over two years they caught more than 55,000 fish from 40+ different species, including almost 9,000 juvenile salmon.⠀

Their study, published today in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, demonstrates that each habitat is required if the overall fish biodiversity of the estuary is to be conserved.⠀

“We quantified fish biodiversity, community distinctness and catches (of Chinook and chum salmon, other migratory fish and resident fish), in the Fraser River estuary, the terminus of what was once the world’s most productive salmon basin,” said Lia Chalifour, the study’s lead author and a PhD candidate at the University Of Victoria.⠀

This research was supported by Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, Marine Environmental Observation Prediction, NSERC CRSNG, Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network. The work was conducted with support and assistance from the Tsawwassen First Nation.

@raincoastconservation @universityofvictoria @NSERC_CRSNG @pacificsalmonfoundation @michaelosnyder

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