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B.C. steelhead returns critically low

B.C. steelhead returns critically low

Postby maryjane48 » Nov 10th, 2017, 8:47 am

Just-released numbers show two populations of B.C. Interior steelhead are on the brink of total collapse.

According to the data, only 45 steelhead are expected to reach spawning grounds in the Chilcotin watershed this year and only 145 in the Thomspon watershed.



http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-c ... -1.4393459
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Re: B.C. steelhead returns critically low

Postby gman313 » Nov 10th, 2017, 9:11 am

pretty disturbing. I always thought the steelhead population was strong. Anything that lives in the ocean and spawns in the rivers seems to be struggling pretty bad. There are salmon runs that are completely gone in parts of the world and it is on track to happen here. not good.
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Re: B.C. steelhead returns critically low

Postby Gone_Fishin » Nov 10th, 2017, 9:18 am

It's awful that the Horgan and Trudeau governments are still allowing these endangered fish to be caught and killed by native food fisheries. One would hope that the natives would stop the unregulated slaughter of these fish, but there seems to be no will on either government nor FN bands to impose a ban on the food fishery. That's totally sad, and shows disregard for the fish to appease Indian bands.
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Re: B.C. steelhead returns critically low

Postby hobbyguy » Nov 10th, 2017, 11:24 am

I am not surprised that steelhead runs in southern BC are reaching critically low levels.

This report shows some of the reasons: http://davidlevy.ca/ThompsonSteelheadIndependentReviewFinalMarch2014.pdf

It is fairly technical, but shows that G_F's comment is completely off the mark.

From a more common sense perspective:

1) There is a lot of bycatch of steelhead by the commercial salmon fishery
2) Steelhead are very life cycle dependent on estuary habitats, the Fraser River estuary habitat has been diked, dredged, and industrialized.
3) Bait fish that are important food sources for steelhead in the marine environment have been heavily fished and in many cases over fished.
4) Warming ocean temperatures have brought competitors, such as Tuna, into the normal marine range of steelhead.

If you look at the data, survival rates in the estuary/marine cycle have been dropping like a stone since the 1990s.

Anecdotally:

- there used to be a steelhead run in the Capilano river - then Cleveland dam got built - goodbye.
- there used to be good salmon/sea run cutthroat fishing in Indian Arm - then then in the 1960s commercial fishermen wiped out the baitfish - goodbye
- there used to be a good steelhead run in the Coquihalla river - then the Carolina mine spill happened - goodbye
- the Kitimat river used to have very strong runs of salmon and steelhead - out of province fishermen showed up with RVs and smokers - goodbye
- the Nanaimo river used to be a good steelhead run - over fished - goodbye

I could go on. I could see this coming from waaay back. I personally stopped keeping anything but steelhead runts as far back as the early 1970s, and only kept the odd runt for a special treat (release the 17 lb, keep the 6 lb). Catch and release only since about 1985. Tried to convince a few other fishermen on the river in the old days to be more responsible - answer was usually $$%%## and MYOB.

This is a cumulative effect scenario. Some of it inevitable due to population growth, some of just plain stupidity and greed.

I do not think that steelhead will ever come back in the Fraser drainage system. Steelhead are "jittery" fish. They (like sea run cutthroats) thrive in quiet areas (every time they are spooked, they waste energy on darting away instead of growing stronger). Try and find that in the Fraser estuary.

Sad.
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Re: B.C. steelhead returns critically low

Postby JagXKR » Nov 10th, 2017, 7:43 pm

Gone_Fishin wrote:It's awful that the Horgan and Trudeau governments are still allowing these endangered fish to be caught and killed by native food fisheries. One would hope that the natives would stop the unregulated slaughter of these fish, but there seems to be no will on either government nor FN bands to impose a ban on the food fishery. That's totally sad, and shows disregard for the fish to appease Indian bands.


Oh no you di-nt. I don't think you are allowed to speak the truth if it bashes the keepers of the land.
Why use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice.
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Re: B.C. steelhead returns critically low

Postby Queen K » Nov 10th, 2017, 7:46 pm

Only Hobbyguy demolished "the truth" with a better truth. The real one.

And yes, overfishing by any group is only a small part of the truth.
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Re: B.C. steelhead returns critically low

Postby hobbyguy » Nov 10th, 2017, 8:16 pm

Sometimes being older than dirt gives a broader perspective. My grampa taught me to fish in the 1950s. The decline in fish stocks overall has been an atrocious scandal.

The DFO has not worked well at all. Nothing ever seems to really happen under the DFO's watch until it is already too late. E.G. the no commercial fishing boundary protecting Indian Arm was put in and marked AFTER commercial fisherman had already 100% cleaned out the fish.

What makes me less pessimistic is things like the Great Bear Rain Forest, the National Park on Moresby Island.

We need to stop things like the commercial Herring fishery as soon as feasible. I know there are folks that rely on that for a living, but the Herring are so key to so many species, right up through to whales.

We also need to take a look at key estuaries, and start more conservation work on them. Even look at creating some artificial lagoons if we have to. Degraded estuaries = no salmon, no steelhead, no sea run cutthroats.

You can do all you want with catch and release sport fishing, hatcheries etc., but if there are no estuary habitats, you will lose the young fish, and if there are no bait fish - what are the adult fish supposed to eat?
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