Crews affix a radio tags to salmon at the Big Bar landslide site 100km north of Lillooet. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is considering options for a permanent fish-passage solution ahead of early-spring migrations. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada photo)

Crews affix a radio tags to salmon at the Big Bar landslide site 100km north of Lillooet. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is considering options for a permanent fish-passage solution ahead of early-spring migrations. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada photo)

Permanent fish-passage solutions considered at Big Bar landslide

151,000 salmon detected this year north of site

As most salmon are now moving past the Big Bar landslide on their own effort, crews are looking ahead to provide permanent fish passage in time for important early-spring migrations.

In a progress update Sept. 29, Fisheries and Oceans Canada officials said roughly 151,000 salmon have now been detected with acoustic sonar north of the site, 8,270 of which relied on the Whooshh Passage Portal.

“The work that was undertaken in the winter definitely has improved the flows through the canyon, allowing fish to move upstream at flow rates they weren’t able to last year,” Gwil Roberts, director of the Big Bar response for Fisheries and Oceans Canada said.

DFO has been working with all levels of government on a permanent solution to help salmon past the landslide site, a critical next step ahead of early-spring salmon migrations.

READ MORE: Helicopter transfer of Fraser River fish from Big Bar now at 44,000 fish

The solutions are either the continuation of blasting and rock removal, or the preferred alternative of a concrete fish-way, which can more reliably be engineered and completed on time.

“The early spring sockeye and early spring chinook are of utmost concern to us,” Roberts said. “Those fish arrive at the Big Bar area normally when water levels are at their highest. They are the least likely to be able to get past the slide site on their own. As a result, we’re concerned about the continued existence of those fish, of those particular genetic variety of sockeye and chinook.”

The 2018 landslide on the Fraser River north of Lillooet blocked migrating salmon with 75,000 cubic meters of rock. Ongoing recovery efforts include blasting and removal, radio tagging and the Wooshh portal, or salmon canon, using pressurized water and tubes to ferry fish past the slide site.

This year salmon faced extremely unusual challenges with high river flows and flood conditions to the end of July.

READ MORE: Long-awaited blasting advances efforts to clear Big Bar blockage

“That all impacted, and thwarted, and killed salmon,” Roberts said. “In 2019 the landslide at Big Bar killed a lot of migrating salmon, but in 2020 it was the whole Fraser River that conspired to kill fish.”

Hatchery and enhancement work with the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance was also put in place as a fallback measure to ensure the propagation and conservation of early arriving Fraser River salmon. To date 259,500 sockeye eggs and 160,000 chinook eggs have been collected for rearing and release.

It’s estimated just 283,000 sockeye will return to the Fraser River this year, the lowest on record.



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

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

Just Posted

A dust advisory is in place for Quesnel. Residents are asked to be careful near heavy traffic areas. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel under dust advisory

High levels of dust in the air can be dangerous for people with COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

A tree near the Sword Avenue baseball diamond was felled by high winds. The diamond is planned to be decommissioned by the city of Quesnel. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel planning on shutting down ballfields

City council hopes maximize the usage at West Fraser Timber Park and Barlow Creek

Cookies were available to celebrate the grand opening of the North Cariboo Seniors’ Council in Oct. of 2020. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel seniors’ group to get COVID-19 funding boost

City council approved giving the North Cariboo Seniors Council $100k in provincial grant money

The Quesnel Fire Hall located at 310 Kinchant St. needs improvement. Quesnel council approved applying for a grant to cover the costs. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel’s $12 million capital plan not just about gold pan

While conversation surrounding the monument’s location dominated council, other projects were funded

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

Most Read