March 18, 2016 - 10:35 AM
KAMLOOPS - An outdoor recreation group is sounding the alarm about the Thompson River, calling it endangered due to low amounts of steelhead salmon.
The Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia recently released an Endangered River List for the province to highlight the most concerning threats to ecosystems around the province.
Of the seven listed this year, the Thompson made the list because of threatened fish, agricultural runoff and chemical discharges.
The annual steelhead run is at an all-time low, the council says, noting this years return is expected to be 440 fish. Previous returns which yielded 5,000 fish.
The council says within the next 20 years, steelhead might disappear altogether which the group attributes to commercial chum fisheries in the Lower Fraser region.
Because of the threat of extinction, the recreational fishery has been affected as few sport anglers have come to the area. Retention of the few fishers who do come is limited since there is the possibility of a total fishing closure.
The group recommends a comprehensive recovery program between user groups, provincial fisheries and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. As part of that program, the council says there may have to be fishery closures in order to preserve the ecosystem and its inhabitants. Augmenting hatcheries could also be an option along with establishing a hatchery at Spencer Bridge — a popular area for the fish.
“The precedent for drastic actions was established when protection for severely depleted Thompson River coho and Cultus Lake sockeye was required,” a council briefing says. “Unfortunately these same measures have not been implemented for Thompson River steelhead, which suggests a double standard may be assumed."
For more information on the other rivers considered endangered, click here.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016