Dave Scott is on the air to talk about Fraser salmon and Raincoast’s Wild Salmon Program. He talks with host Tracy Merle about some of the issues Fraser salmon are facing and challenges the project has encountered, as well as its recent successes and some of the benefits to salmon Raincoast has been able to see.1 2
Dave describes the Fraser’s important Salmon runs – 16 Chinook runs, which are a key food source for the Southern Resident Killer Whale Population, as well as large runs of sockeye, pink, coho, and steelhead. As the runs that the Southern Resident’s depend on, only 1 of 16 Chinook runs is not threatened or of conservation concern – a dire situation.
Dave illustrates how salmon are not a “keystone” species, which holds an ecosystem together at the top, but a foundation species. They bring nitrogen and phosphorus from the ocean to inland ecosystem, and their sheer biomass forms the basis of the coastal forest ecosystems we know so well. With so many runs along the Fraser in trouble, the animals and plants which depend on the sustenance provided by salmon are also in trouble – the diminishing of what was such a stable and large resource has large knock-on effects.
Dave then goes into how Raincoast is working to change this picture and support salmon. He describes how the Wild Salmon program, which has been running in the lower Fraser since 2016, has been working to fill research gaps, work with partners such as Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to understand contaminants in Chinook, and to undertake habitat conservation and restoration along the Fraser.
Dave highlights that although there is huge development pressure on the lower Fraser from population growth and harvest pressure from fisheries, people have been coming together and the government is also focused on conservation. It is important to preserve and restore remaining populations, especially as climate change looms as a growing problem.
In the last six years, the program has succeeded in important work to restore connectivity in the Fraser Estuary. In partnership with Tsawwassen First Nation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, projects have been undertaken to open a Jetty which has been disconnecting salmon for over a hundred years, restore a large portion of marsh habitat, enhance sediment in the delta, and just that week a second connectivity project on a jetty began. While construction on the first jetty project only wrapped up recently (in 2021), ongoing monitoring has already picked up on juvenile salmon moving through the breaches.
Dave emphasizes how rewarding it is to see on-the-ground projects happen and deliver benefits to salmon. Listen to the whole podcast to hear more about emerging projects and Raincoast’s unique approach to conservation through informed advocacy.