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Improved fishway, lower flow raises salmon migration hopes at Big Bar rock slide

Thousands of migrating Fraser River salmon expected to be able to pass through the area

Fisheries officials say they expect thousands of migrating salmon will be able to pass through an area where a massive rock slide has impeded them on British Columbia’s Fraser River after structural changes to a waterway and anticipated lower river flows.

They told a news conference they are confident the improvements over the past two years at the Big Bar slide north of Lillooet will allow more salmon to reach their spawning grounds this year.

Michael Crowe of Fisheries and Oceans Canada says chinook salmon are strong swimmers and are expected to make it through the slide zone without many problems, but early arrivals of sockeye salmon remain vulnerable in high waters.

He says since the rock slide, a protected route to help salmon navigate the slide zone has been built, and a separate fish ladder has been constructed where salmon will be put in tanks and trucked to a calm area past the slide.

Fisheries officials told a House of Commons committee last summer the early Stuart sockeye and chinook runs were decimated because the fish couldn’t make it past the slide area.

Crowe says up to 18,000 early Stuart sockeye are expected in the coming weeks and up to one million sockeye are due to arrive later this summer.

—The Canadian Press

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