What’s going on in Coho Creek?

Black eggs in spawning salmon are “not normal but not abnormal” – DFO fish health vet, Chris MacWilliams.

Black eggs in spawning salmon are “not normal but not abnormal” – DFO fish health vet, Chris MacWilliams.

ARMS heard this from community advisor Sandie Hollick-Kenyon after it sent the DFO photos of black eggs in Coho Creek spawners. Hollick-Kenyon quoted Maurice Coulter Boisvert, another DFO advisor: “The female was from a tributary of the Alouette River – Coho Creek – found during spawner escapement numeration.

The small stream can be heavily influenced by stormwater, which could lead to low oxygen levels, Coulter-Boisvert said.

“It could be a combination of anything in storm water – antifreeze, oil, brake line material, paint thinner. It can all end up in a stream.”

He noted Coho Creek runs along agricultural ditches, which could have low oxygen content.

In his opinion, water quality tests are “the only way” to find out what they are, and what’s causing them.

Would DFO conduct a streams investigation, I later asked Hollick-Kenyon.

She said the fish health vet’s findings didn’t indicate any reason for that.

“I’m pretty sure an investigation wouldn’t be warranted at this time. We don’t have a water quality unit. It would be a challenge at this time.

“Are you a stream keeper?” she added.


“That’s something – monitoring, testing – that could be done by stream keepers. That’s what we’d encourage.”

So, low oxygen and pollutants entering storm drains equals black egg?

Mystery solved.

Maybe not.

“I don’t see how they [DFO] could jump to the conclusion that storm drains are the problem,” said Maple Ridge environmental officer Rodney Stott.

He said improved and more efficient water filtering measures have been in place around Millionaire Creek in recent years. He agreed, however, that irrigation ditches draining agricultural land could be sources of low oxygen in Coho Creek.

DFO doesn’t walk those ditches any longer, doesn’t look for “disruptions and disturbances” now that the Fish Act has changed to disenfranchise aquatic life in ditches. No fish “of economic value,” so no need to check what’s being dumped into them.

Stott suggested DFO could regularly test ditches draining into Coho Creek and pass on information that everyone – the city, stream keepers – could use.

If Coho Creek has an oxygen deficiency, it happened in the past two years. A stream keeper course I attended on Coho then found all conditions ideal for salmon – clean water, good gravel, leafy cover to provide shade in heat, bugs to feed fry in the spring, and a normal and healthy oxygen level.

DFO has a duty to find out what went awry. Returns are dismal this year.

It would also have a better idea of how many chum to expect.

This fall, DFO guessed one healthy run of 1.3 million chum. It allowed a commercial opening. Fishermen returning with 12 fish shook their heads.

Coulter-Boisvert worried about having enough chum eggs for the school program.

Does DFO management really want to know what’s in ditches, or whether storm drains kill fish? If they did, they’d re-assign officers to walk streams, test waters, enforce laws, count salmon.

Doug Goslings still plans to give his community advisor the new batch of diseased eggs he found recently. They’re completely black. He wants testing in a DFO lab.

Doug Stanger plans to take his camera with him every time he walks a stream now.

ARMS is pleased that river stewardship groups are talking more about the problems streams and spawners face today, while wondering how long we’ll have wild salmon in our streams.


– Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.







Just Posted

Easter egg hunts and fun for families

More events scheduled for Sunday in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Bobcats, bears, and otters, oh my!

Critter Care Wildlife Society’s 20th anniversary gala set for next Saturday in Langley

Victoria ‘reviewing options’ for removing convicted councillors

Pitt Meadows lobbied for change after David Murray’s sex assault conviction

Cubetto teaches kids the building blocks of coding

Fraser Valley Regional Library’s wooden robot coming to Maple Ridge in May

Toothpick speech a Toastmasters win for Pitt man

Stefano Cossalter won the district-level contest.

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Parents say Austrian climber missing in Banff National Park ‘lived his dream’

David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and American climber Jess Roskelley have been missing since Wednesday

Most Read