Some B.C. salmon runs face ‘meaningful chance of extinction’ after landslide, despite rescue mission


Scientists fear that some Fraser River salmon populations could be wiped out completely following a landslide that has blocked part of the critical B.C. migration route for the last year.

Federal government scientists told the Pacific Salmon Commission there is a “meaningful chance of extinction” for three salmon runs after the Big Bar landslide, according to a copy of a PowerPoint presentation, dated  Oct. 16, obtained by CBC News.

That includes the Early Stuart sockeye and the Mid-Fraser and Upper Fraser Spring 1.3 chinook populations.

The landslide prompted officials at multiple levels of government to organize a rescue mission that saw thousands of salmon, which are very vulnerable to stress, lifted by helicopter across the rocks that blocked their migration route.

But despite that effort, prospects are dismal for the salmon in the upper reaches of the river, according to Dean Werk, president of the Fraser Valley Salmon Society.

“We’re talking about virtually a collapse — a total collapse — of the salmon stocks above the Big Bar slide,” Werk told CBC.

“This is devastating to the wild salmon population. Some of those upper river streams were supposed to be the largest component of this year’s sockeye run.”

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