Interior kokanee salmon returns more than double last year's numbers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior kokanee salmon returns more than double last year's numbers

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November 29, 2020 - 8:00 AM

Kokanee shore spawning numbers in the Interior were some of the highest on record since the 1970s, according to a fisheries biologist.

"This was a really high year for shore spawners. It was actually one of the highest we have on record, I don't really have a concrete answer as to why it was so high this year," said Eric Hegerat, a ministry fisheries biologist.

Typically, there are more shore spawning salmon than streams, which Hegerat thinks is simply because of the availability of habitat.

A total of 388,000 kokanee salmon returned to Interior creeks and shores to lay eggs this past October, well above the 10-year average of 177,000, according to a statement from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

It's also almost double last year's numbers when 185,000 returned Mission Creek, Powers Creek, Peachland Creek, Penticton Creek, Trepanier Creek, Lambly Creek, Naramata Creek, Trout Creek, Mill Creek, Eneas Creek, Shorts Creek, Whiteman Creek, Equesis Creek, Nashwito Creek, Vernon Creek and Robinson Creek.

READ MORE: People, dogs walking in sensitive salmon spawning grounds in Central Okanagan


Fish returns were highest in shoreline spawners with 316,000 recorded in 2020 compared to 122,000 in the previous year. Stream spawners numbers reached 72,000 in 2020 and 63,000 in 2019.

“The return in Mission Creek was excellent this year with 34,000 fish. Habitat restoration work done on Mission likely contributed to a strong return,” according to the ministry’s statement.

The Equesis Creek estimate has the highest returns on record, with 15,000 fish.

“We believe this is a direct result of habitat restoration work initiated by local First Nations,” according to the ministry. “Overall the best explanation for strong return years is a combination of favourable environmental conditions and ongoing habitat restoration projects.”

Isabella Hodson, supervisor of community relations and visitor services with the Regional District of Central Okanagan's parks department, said the number of salmon returns is good news.

“We all put in efforts collectively in our different municipalities, to make sure that our salmon, which are part of our environment, are healthy and doing well. Even at Mission Creek, our spawning channel we take care of annually to ensure that it’s a perfect spawning habitat to meet the salmon needs,” she said.

The spawning channel was build in 1987, to create critical habitat for spawning kokanee.

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