Where have all the Salmon gone?

Returns of adult sockeye salmon in B.C.’s Fraser River were supposed to clock in at nearly one million this year. Instead, the forecast has been revised down to what would be a record-low return of 283,000.

Head north to Yukon, and it’s a similar story. Officials had expected to see 50,000 chinook salmon cross the border from Alaska in the Yukon River. Instead, just 29,570 have made it across.

The exact reasons for these alarming numbers are hard to pinpoint, but there are some obvious culprits, including climate change. That can be seen through warming waters, which force salmon to expend more energy while also boosting the presence of predators like California sea lions.

Fish farms on the BC coast are blamed to be part of that cause and therefore collaborative efforts are on the way to shut those fish farms down.

Industrial projects like Roberts Bank Terminal 2, a container terminal that could destroy 177 hectares of salmon habitat in the Fraser estuary, threaten to make the situation even worse.

Beyond the salmon shortfalls in Yukon and the Fraser, another fish crisis made news this week when the federal government announced it will take part in an environmental review of what would be one of Canada’s largest mines. 

That project, Castle Mountain, would expand Teck Resources’ coal mining operations in B.C.’s Elk Valley, where the population of a unique trout population recently dropped by 93 per cent. Selenium pollution — which originates from the mines’ waste rock piles and can cause reproductive failure in fish — has been increasing in the region for decades.

In deciding to review Castle Mountain, the federal government acknowledged that the project has the potential to cause “adverse effects” to fish habitat and Indigenous peoples. Even U.S. government agencies are sounding the alarm about selenium levels in a Montana watershed downstream of Teck’s B.C. mines.

For more details read the Narwhal article!

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