Monthly archives: December, 2017

SRKW Famine Connected to Puget Sound’s Poisoned Rivers

A recent article in Focus Magazine points to the connection between secondary sewage treatment effluent poisoning the rivers that flow into Puget Sound, reduced chinook salmon survival, and famine for southern resident killer whales. The article is worth a read.

RIVERS RUNNING INTO PUGET SOUND have perennially low returns of chinook salmon—currently estimated at just 10 percent of their historic levels—even though many of them are enhanced with hatcheries. Last year, scientific research connected this decline to secondary sewage treatment plants discharging partially-treated effluent into Puget Sound.

Having learned of the pollutants’ effects in Puget Sound river estuaries, Washington state has taken action to point to Victoria’s discharge of raw sewage, and to talk about – but not fund – further research.

New Date: SVI Anglers Coalition Town Hall: Jan 17

A town hall meeting of the South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition is scheduled, and all anglers on the lower island are invited to attend.

SVI Anglers Coalition Town Hall meeting
Date & TimeJanuary 17, 2018, 7 pm – 9 pm
LocationFour Points Sheraton Hotel, 829 McCallum Road, Langford

Our fishery is at stake. This year, there were low salmon return numbers. The already endangered southern resident killer whales need chinook. The chinook fishery where we live is at a crisis point!

Please bring this meeting to the attention of all concerned. Sport fishers need to show that we are united when it comes to preserving our fishery.

We plan to post an agenda here before the event; stay tuned!

DFO Responds to ACS on SRKW and Net Pens

Following the October 10-12 2017 Orca symposium in Vancouver, ACS president Tom Cole wrote to The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, with his concerns about the protracted strategizing, studying and analysis of the prey shortage for SRKW; and the lack of action beyond meetings and discussions in the short term.

The main problem for the SRKW is the availability of the ocean and surrounding water courses to produce enough food for these animals; the problem is now and not 5 years from now…

Tom further stated his strong view – shared amongst many recreational and commercial fishermen, plus whale watching interests – that we already have the solution ready at hand:

The answer to the feed problem is to champion the Chinook net pen projects that have proven to create CHINOOK BETTER THAN MOST HATCHERIES CAN!

Finally Tom pointed out that in addition to the three volunteer run and staffed net pen projects already in the Juan de Fuca Strait area, there is potential to re-start three other net pen projects that have languished for want of funds and approval from the DFO in Ottawa.

On December 12, The Minister responded. While reiterating the current state of strategizing, studying and analysis, he offered the following:

DFO is considering various options to increase prey availability for SRKW in addition to current work. Hatchery and net pen fish production is one of the options being contemplated… Hatchery production planning, including net pen projects, is conducted through the annual Integrated Fish Management Planning process, which is soon to begin.

…and pointed out that project enquiries should be directed to the local DFO Community Advisor in our area.

For lower Vancouver Island, including the Southern Gulf Islands and the Cowichan River watershed, the local DFO Community Advisor is Chantal Nessman, with contact info as:

Phone250-746-5137
Mailing Address5245 Trans Canada Highway
Duncan, BC
V0R 2C0
Email addressChantal.Nessman@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

You may read the full exchange here.

Rehabilitated Seal Population Outcompeting SRKWs for Chinook Salmon

This recent scientific report explored the change in the effect of predation on chinook salmon since the 1970s along the west coast of North America. It focused on predation by three species of pinnipeds – harbour seals, California sea lions, Steller sea lions – and fish-eating killer whales, and compared these estimates to salmon fisheries.

We find that from 1975 to 2015, biomass of Chinook salmon consumed by pinnipeds and killer whales increased from 6,100 to 15,200 metric tons (from 5 to 31.5 million individual salmon).

The science is pointing to pinniped predation as one of the primary factors in poor ocean survival for many salmonids like Chinook and Steelhead. These fish in particular have larger out-migrations, making them an easier and more desirable target for harbour seals, which are the primary culprit.

The Salish Sea stands out as a growing hot spot for Chinook predation by seals and sea lions. Of an estimated 27.4 million Chinook consumed by harbour seals along the west coast of North America in 2015, 23.2 million were smolts taken in the Salish Sea. The study found that harbour seals grew from a Salish Sea population of 8,600 in 1975 to 77,800 in 2015, and their diet includes a greater percentage of Chinook smolts than seals in other areas. Consequently, harbour seals in the Salish Sea consume about 86 percent of all the Chinook eaten as smolts along the west coast.

Increasing consumption of Chinook salmon by pinnipeds may also be limiting the growth of the Southern Resident killer whale population. Our results suggest that at least in recent years competition with other marine mammals is a more important factor limiting the growth of this endangered population than competition with human fisheries.