Sunday, 18 May 2014

Q and As May - 2014

Darren Wright, Island Outfitters: Thanks to sponsors and those who bought tickets for the 18th Just for the Halibut Derby, May 10-11. We raised $2,500 for the TLC kids’ fund.

DCR: Returns were a huge 174 halibut from local waters. First went to Adam West, with a fatty flatty of 70.9 lbs, from Zero Rock, Saturday. Second went to Tom Schmidbauer for a 67.7 pound halibut, near Race Rocks, Sunday. Third went to Allen Lacharity for a 65.7 lb halibut, caught Saturday in Oak Bay. Ten year old Brock Heppell also caught a 65.7 lb halibut in Oak Bay, but arrived at the weigh-in moments after Lacharity. The first fish weighed gets the higher spot so Brock got 4th. First won $7,500 cash; second, $2,500; third, $1,000; and, 4th, a Lowrance sounder/GPS.

The Nature Trust BC: The purpose of the trust [not related to the Land Conservancy] is to purchase and protect important land and water areas in BC. On Van Isle donors supplied funds to the Salmon River estuary project near Sayward. In the Ash River, an important tributary of the Stamp, just upstream from Money’s, BC Hydro is also helping fund DNA studies of wild and enhanced fish so enhancement strategies can be adjusted for wild steelhead.

In addition to the Salmon estuary purchase, there are projects to assess coho, steelhead and trout populations regarding the upcoming Salmon Diversion dam; this includes inserting 18 sections of woody debris for over-wintering and fry protection on Grilse Creek. In addition, on the Salmon, unimpeded access to the upper watershed is critical to long-term salmon sustainability.

Closer to home, the lower Jordan River now has capacity to support salmonids and a strategic plan is needed to guide recovery of once abundant stocks. The study will identify habitat and enhancement options and address factors currently limiting fish production in the lower reaches.

In the Puntledge River near Courtenay, DFO considers the summer Chinook – distinct from fall Chinook – a population of high conservation concern. While both have different run timing, they spawn at the same time – early October to early November. One factor is Bacterial Kidney Disease (BKD), also a problem in fish farms, particularly in Scotland.

The goal is: long-term viability of summers by reducing occurrence of BKD; and understanding genetics controlling summers’ run-timing. Results will alter hatchery practices to maintain productivity and sustainability.

Another project in the Puntledge is: year four in a five-year project to evaluate whether juvenile summer Chinook, imprinted in Comox Lake, will migrate to the lake as adults, in greater abundance than adults reared and released as juveniles in the river below the diversion dam.

And, of course, what would Puntledge projects be without looking at seals that plunder salmon on the way in. Using seal scat, the purpose is to determine whether seals prefer females loaded with eggs, as the river has a much higher ratio of males on spawning beds. There is significant funding from BC Hydro, the BC government and DFO for all these projects.

Pacific Salmon Foundation: The PSF is beginning an ecosystem-based group of projects aimed at bringing back chinook and coho in the Salish Sea – Georgia, Puget and Juan de Fuca. CEO Brian Riddell has estimated catches, now one-tenth of historical numbers, if brought back to ‘80s level, would result in additional $400- to $500-million sport revenue, above the current $1 billion from salt- and fresh-water fishing.

Vancouver philanthropist Rudy North, president and CEO of North Growth Management, has pledged $250,000 for this research. The five-year project will cost $10 million and North’s donation brings the total raised to $7.25 million.

Scientists believe changes in the Salish Sea have significantly affected salmon abundance. Losses are well noted in local communities, yet understanding causes remains elusive. Oddly, other species have had huge variability. For example, Fraser River sockeye returned at the lowest (2009) and highest (2010) levels in a century. Pink salmon, on the other hand, have consistently returned at historically high levels in the North Pacific in recent years – 26 million in 2013.

“The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is an ambitious project that will look at the entire… ecosystem to determine the most significant factors that affect survival of juvenile salmon, particularly as they enter the saltwater phase of their lives.” Dr. Brian Riddell is scientific leader of the project.

The project has a multidisciplinary group of 20 federal, state and provincial agencies, First Nations, academia and non-profit organizations on both sides of the border. The project will improve knowledge about the relationship between salmon and marine waters through development of a comprehensive framework, coordinated data collection and standardization, along with improved information sharing. The PSF is partnering with Seattle-based Long Live the Kings on the project that also includes Puget Sound steelhead. See:

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