July 21, 2015 - 4:30 PM
SALMON RUN AT RISK
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - An extreme drought rating has been issued for the Nicola region, resulting in fishing restrictions and a request for residents to conserve water.
Staff from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources say extreme dry conditions and warming water temperatures calls for a fishing suspension on the Nicola and Coldwater Rivers and Spius Creek.
Drought levels place the area on level four of the drought level classification — the most extreme. Should conditions continue, the ministry says it could lead to human-consumption water shortages, the agriculture industry, wildlife and fish stocks.
Water users are advised to do all they can to conserve water.
The drop in water levels can affect the salmon run leading to spawning grounds, increase fish susceptibility to disease, stranding or death due to low oxygen and high water temperatures.
Angling suspension for the three bodies of water is effective tomorrow, July 22, through Sept. 30. The suspension is to protect fish stocks. The order does not encompass lake fishing.
Biologists are examining 40 other angling streams in the province and are determining if conditions are favourable to more closures put in place by the B.C. sport fishing regulations under the fisheries act. Several South Okanagan rivers are already under restrictions as well.
The province advises regional water managers could impose further actions such as water suspensions or short-term water approvals if deemed necessary.
Those living off smaller water systems like streams, lakes and wells are asked to follow conservation bylaws for water use to maintain flows for fish and their habitats. Users are reminded to monitor water intakes to make sure fish are not pulled into the water system due to low levels.
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