The terrible turbulence at the Big Bar landslide site in the Fraser River is stopping fish from migrating upriver to reach spawning grounds. (Courtesy of Incident Command Post)

VIDEO: Sockeye stymied at the Big Bar blockage heading down to salmon lab

The sockeye will be transported in oxygenated holding tanks for a pilot enhancement project

Tanks containing sockeye salmon will soon be on their way down to the Cultus Lake Salmon Laboratory in Chilliwack from the Big Bar landslide site on the Fraser River.

Researchers at the federal lab in Chilliwack will be leading a pilot project to preserve some of this year’s run of Early Stuart sockeye through enhancement.

About 200 of the Early Stuart had reached the obstruction site by Sunday, and other sockeye populations were expected to be following right behind them.

“This creates a brief window of opportunity to confidently collect the Early Stuart before they are mingling with significant numbers of other sockeye stocks,” according to the July 28 release from the Incident Command Post team.

The sockeye on their way to the lab could yield up to 300,000 eggs, which would be incubated to produce salmon fry. Options range from fry being released back to the Stuart Lake system as part of stock enhancement, or they could be reared to maturity to contribute to future generations.

They are ironing out the logistics of transporting the fish in tanks from the Big Bar Landslide site to the rearing facilities in the Chilliwack lab by truck. The rationale for the enhancement program, proposed by First Nations, is doing what they can is to preserve some portion of the at-risk population until they have “increased certainty that natural migration can continue.”

The worry was that the Early Stuart sockeye would never make it to their spawning grounds near Fort St. John if they couldn’t open up a fish passage to let them through.

Federal and provincial government reps, along with the First Nations leaders, and other experts, have been strategizing how to help the trapped fish from on-site, and from the Incident Command Post (ICP) in Lillooet, where they have been chipping away at the blockage problem from several different angles.

The swift-moving water is impeding salmon and other fish from migrating upriver to reach spawning grounds, but they also created hazardous conditions for responding agencies at the site, which is not accessible by road.

The salmon being trucked down to the lab will undergo DNA analysis on arrival at Cultus Lake to confirm their “stock origin” before being transferred to holding tanks pumped with “cool, calm water” until they mature.

Re-opening the fish passage in the river has been the collaborative goal, and multiple strategies have been attempted.

“Some of these concurrent actions are to manipulate the slide site itself, while others are to transport fish above the slide.”

“The Big Bar Landslide Incident Command would like to acknowledge the contribution of a member of the Yinka Dene who proposed this salmon enhancement strategy for this Early Stuart Sockeye run that are currently affected by the Big Bar landslide, and for the decisions made by the First Nations Leadership Panel to endorse this project.”

READ MORE: Unblocking fish passage the goal

READ MORE: Visit from B.C. premier


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Capturing fish on the Fraser River at the Big Bar landslide site is underway with seining, nets and weirs. About 200 Early Stuart sockeye will be transported in holding tanks down to the Cultus Lake Salmon Lab in Chilliwack for an enhancement pilot program. (Courtesy of Incident Command Post)

Just Posted

RCMP charge Langley man in connection with boat collision on Cultus Lake

A 67-year-old man allegedly operated a motor boat that collided with a woman paddling a canoe

UPDATE: Sts’ailes FSR Fire ‘being held’ at 12 hectares

Status changed from ‘out of control’ on Wednesday afternoon

Umbrella decorating contest to raise funds, awareness for Ann Davis Transition Society in Chilliwack

People invited to decorate red umbrellas as part of Umbrellas for Change: The Ann Davis Art Contest

Airlines dispute Dr. Henry’s claim they ‘very rarely’ give accurate COVID contact tracing info

Air Canada, WestJet say they provide names and contact information

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Former high-stakes poker player from Mission missing in Nevada

Brad Booth last seen on July 13, told roommate he was going camping

Health Canada recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list

Organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional

Airborne hot dog strikes Greater Victoria pedestrian

Police called to 4200-block of Quadra Street for hot dog incident

Mission’s 7-Eleven defaced with racist graffiti

Racist insults attacking Indo-Canadians ‘shocked’ manager

B.C. scientist, 63, protests in trees set to be removed for Trans Mountain pipeline

Tim Takaro is reaching new heights as he tries to stall the pipeline expansion project in New Westminster

Most Read