Fraser River makes the endangered list again

The Fraser River has been included on Endangered Rivers list put out by the Outdoor Recreation Council every year since 1993

B.C.'s Endangered Rivers List of 2016 from the Outdoor Recreation Council features the Fraser River at the top of the list.

The beleaguered Fraser River makes the list every time.

B.C.’s Endangered Rivers List of 2016 from the Outdoor Recreation Council features the Fraser at the top of the list.

“The Fraser River has been included on ORC’s Endangered Rivers list every year since 1993 when the list was first published,” said Mark Angelo, chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council. “This year is no exception.”

The main focus for 2016 is on the Lower Fraser and the estuary where the waterway faces numerous development and industrial pressures as well as urbanization and pollution.

“The Fraser is also experiencing significant impacts from climate change.”

Summer of 2015 the river was especially warm.

“Changing climatic conditions could push more and more native species northward over time,” he said.

That could mean impacts on aboriginal fisheries, with catches declining by up to 50 per cent by 2050, as marine species move up the coast in search of cooler waters.

A comprehensive approach is needed for the Chilliwack sections of the river, he noted, along with collaboration on stewardship.

“Further upriver, there is also a need for a collaborative plan aimed at protecting key habitats along the river’s most productive stretch between the towns of Hope and Mission; a stretch known as the Heart of the Fraser.”

The Endangered Rivers List is compiled by ORC and released across the province and Canada every two years.

“The list is based on feedback from the 100,000-member ORC, along with input from the general public and many resource managers, so I think it’s an accurate snapshot of the state of our rivers,” Angelo added.

Another prominent advocate for the mighty Fraser is a former DFO biologist, who around the same time the rivers’ list came out, chimed in on the Fraser River topic.

Otto Langer is asking the new Trudeau government to step up for the Fraser River and its estuary.

The fisheries biologist and former DFO official has put together “an urgent action plan” listing the steps needed to fully protect and sustain fish and wildlife and the region’s quality of life.

“The Lower Fraser River and estuary has been through tremendous development over the past 160 years that has greatly altered its ability to support fisheries and wildlife,” writes Langer.

A series of projects are on deck when Canada has “greatly diminished laws” to properly assess projects or protect the environment.

He lists the 14 biggest threats, and makes suggestions for fixing the situation left behind by the Harper government, which worked so intently to remove what it saw as clunky environmental protections to the detriment of the major waterway.

Langer’s ‘Projects of Concern are:

1. Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project (greatest risk)

2. New Richmond – Delta Bridge.

3. Jet Fuel Project.

4. PMV habitat banking program

5. Kinder Morgan bitumen pipeline project.

6. Increased water temperatures.

7. Fortis LNG Facility on Tilbury Island

8. Gravel mining in fish habitat areas.

9. Flood control initiatives.

10. River dredging for flood control and construction sand.

11. Port expansion to Mission.

12. Increased shipping traffic in the estuary.

13. Surrey Fraser Dock coal export facility

14. 4th runway for Vancouver International

 

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