The terrible turbulence at the Big Bar landslide site in the Fraser River is stopping fish from migrating upriver to reach spawning grounds. (Courtesy of Incident Command Post)

VIDEO: Some of the salmon trapped at Big Bar slide heading to lab for conservation project

Sockeye to be transported to Chilliwack in oxygenated holding tanks for a pilot enhancement project

Tanks containing sockeye salmon will soon be on their way down to the Cultus Lake Salmon Laboratory in Chilliwack from the Big Bar landslide site on the Fraser River.

Researchers at the federal lab in Chilliwack will be leading a pilot project to preserve some of this year’s run of Early Stuart sockeye through enhancement.

About 200 of the Early Stuart had reached the obstruction site by Sunday, and other sockeye populations were expected to be following right behind them.

“This creates a brief window of opportunity to confidently collect the Early Stuart before they are mingling with significant numbers of other sockeye stocks,” according to the July 28 release from the Incident Command Post team.

The sockeye on their way to the lab could yield up to 300,000 eggs, which would be incubated to produce salmon fry. Options range from fry being released back to the Stuart Lake system as part of stock enhancement, or they could be reared to maturity to contribute to future generations.

They are ironing out the logistics of transporting the fish in tanks from the Big Bar Landslide site to the rearing facilities in the Chilliwack lab by truck. The rationale for the enhancement program, proposed by First Nations, is doing what they can is to preserve some portion of the at-risk population until they have “increased certainty that natural migration can continue.”

The worry was that the Early Stuart sockeye would never make it to their spawning grounds near Fort St. John if they couldn’t open up a fish passage to let them through.

Federal and provincial government reps, along with the First Nations leaders, and other experts, have been strategizing how to help the trapped fish from on-site, and from the Incident Command Post (ICP) in Lillooet, where they have been chipping away at the blockage problem from several different angles.

The swift-moving water is impeding salmon and other fish from migrating upriver to reach spawning grounds, but they also created hazardous conditions for responding agencies at the site, which is not accessible by road.

The salmon being trucked down to the lab will undergo DNA analysis on arrival at Cultus Lake to confirm their “stock origin” before being transferred to holding tanks pumped with “cool, calm water” until they mature.

Re-opening the fish passage in the river has been the collaborative goal, and multiple strategies have been attempted.

“Some of these concurrent actions are to manipulate the slide site itself, while others are to transport fish above the slide.”

“The Big Bar Landslide Incident Command would like to acknowledge the contribution of a member of the Yinka Dene who proposed this salmon enhancement strategy for this Early Stuart Sockeye run that are currently affected by the Big Bar landslide, and for the decisions made by the First Nations Leadership Panel to endorse this project.”

READ MORE: Unblocking fish passage the goal

READ MORE: Visit from B.C. premier


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Capturing fish on the Fraser River at the Big Bar landslide site is underway with seining, nets and weirs. About 200 Early Stuart sockeye will be transported in holding tanks down to the Cultus Lake Salmon Lab in Chilliwack for an enhancement pilot program. (Courtesy of Incident Command Post)

Just Posted

Sea bus service proposed along Fraser River

Maple Ridge councillor just wants to start discussion

Pitt Meadows gets some help for flood plan

$412,000, but not for dike upgrades

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows folks take in rides at PNE

Fall exhibition heralds end of summer

Pantracia Chronicles paves path for Pitt Meadows author

First trilogy in epic fantasy series released this year

Homes found for abandoned hedgehogs in Maple Ridge

Lucky new owners picked up their pets on Aug. 20

Pickle me this: All the outrageous foods at this year’s PNE

Pickled cotton candy, deep-fried chicken skins, and ramen corndogs are just a start

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Mammoth sturgeon catch was ‘a fish of a lifetime’ for Chilliwack guide

Sturgeon was so enormous it tied for largest specimen every tagged and released in the Fraser

Rosemount cooked diced chicken linked to listeria case in B.C.

The symptoms of listeria include vomiting, nausea, fever, muscle aches

Body found believed to be missing Chilliwack senior with dementia

Police say case is now in the hands of the coroner

B.C. seniors allowed more choice to stay in assisted living

Province doesn’t need to wait for a complaint to investigate care, Adrian Dix says

Most Read