Despite cooling period, salmon still face record-low water levels

federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ latest sockeye report shows stream and river temperatures well below the danger levels

Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

While water temperatures have declined in Southern Interior rivers, returning salmon still face record-low stream levels.

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ latest sockeye report shows stream and river temperatures well below the danger levels of 19C or 20C seen earlier this year. But, continuing drought poses a hazard for returning sockeye, regional manager Stu Cartwright said.

“The concern we’ve got for migrating salmon — though temperatures have improved a lot — is low stream levels,” he said.

In small tributaries such as Louis Creek, a tributary of the North Thompson, Cartwright said fish don’t have enough volume to enter.

The province has made drought declarations throughout the Southern Interior, encouraging water users to reduce their use in order to conserve water for salmon.

When sockeye cannot enter streams due to low levels, they will wait at mouths, becoming more vulnerable to predators and disease.

Cartwright said recent light rains have helped only slightly.

The low numbers will make worse a large decline in salmon expected to return this year.

The Pacific Salmon Commission now estimates about 2.4-million sockeye will return to the Fraser system this year, down 60 per cent from a pre-season estimate. The Adams River run estimate is down to about 300,000 fish from the early estimate of 1.2 million.

Barriere Star Journal