Chum return to Maple Ridge in hundreds, instead of thousands

Chum return to Maple Ridge in hundreds, instead of thousands

Low numbers spawning on Alouette River should set alarm bells off, says ARMS

The number of chum salmon returning to spawn in Maple Ridge has gone from hundreds of thousands to merely hundreds this year.

“For 500 fish to return this year, when we expected 60,000, is very poor,” said Sophie Sparrow, of the Alouette River Management Society.

To put the return in context, the South Alouette River had 150,000 chum a decade ago.

In 2012, 120,000 chum returned to spawn there.

“You couldn’t see the riverbed. All you could see were dorsal fins,” said Sparrow. “Now you really need to use your keen eye to spot the fish.”

The hatchery system was supposed to provide eggs for others, so they could rebuild the chum salmon runs on other rivers in the Lower Mainland.

“Now we’re not even getting what we need for Allco Hatchery,” she said. “We’re missing a huge amount of chum.”

She said ARMS reported the low returns to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the federal agency reports seeing similar numbers across the Lower Mainland this year.

Sparrow said when chum are not returning, alarm bells should be ringing about the danger to all salmon. Other species of salmon are more easily stressed, and also more particular about their spawning grounds.

“Chum are a very resilient species. They are easy-going, and will spawn anywhere.”

Pink salmon numbers are also well down.

While ARMS used to count 7,000, and was expecting 1,500 to 2,500 this year, only 60 were counted.

The hatchery has been allocated to take 150,000 pink eggs, but could only take 42,000.

A pair of chinook salmon returned this year, however, and ARMS was able to spawn them.

The society only saw seven chinook, but in trying to rebuild the run, that was seen as a positive.

“That was really exciting for us,” said Sparrow. “We are slowly re-introducing chinook to the Alouette, and it is working.”

She said chinook and sockeye salmon species need faster water in order to spawn. ARMS staff truck them past the Alouette dam.

Sparrow said there appears to be no single reason for the lower returns. The “blob” of warm water in the Pacific puts stress on aquatic life, and there has been over-fishing for years, as well as other factors.

“The is no one answer, to say, ‘This is what’s causing it.’”

However, she said there is no reason to expect such a low return of chum again with next year’s run.


 

@NeilCorbett18
ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media files)
Snowfall expected for Lower Mainland on Saturday night, Sunday morning

2 to 5 cm of snow predicted Metro Vancouver, according to Environment Canada

Jim Graham caught the sunrise Tuesday, Jan. 19 along the Fraser River looking toward Mount Baker. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Sunrise over the Fraser River

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Elise Gouin (left), tech peer to Jocelyn McLean, in booth at CEED Centre Neighbourhood House. (Christian Cowley/Special to The News)
New seniors programs at Maple Ridge centre help isolated connect

The CEED Centre Society is offering two new seniors programs

Nobody will be turned away from the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministry in the next couple of days as temperatures are expected to dip below freezing. (THE NEWS/files)
Ridge Meadows Salvation Army calls for extreme weather response

Freezing temperatures forecast tonight and Friday, snow on the weekend

Madeline Merlo announced a new record deal with Broken Bow Record Music Group. (Facebook/Madeline Merlo)
Maple Ridge country artist signs record deal in Nashville

Madeline Merlo signed with Broken Bow Record Music Group

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

Fire on Yale Road north of the overpass Friday morning. (Progress file)
Early morning blaze guts Chilliwack restaurant

The fire erupted north of the overpass closing one lane of Yale Road

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Most Read