Habitat restoration in the lower Fraser River may be the key to survival of dwindling Fraser River salmon stocks.
The returns the last two years have been brutal. But one thing is clear according to a new report, habitat needs to be higher up on the priority list.
The new report, ‘Toward a Vision for Salmon Habitat in the Lower Fraser’ from Raincoast Conservation Foundation has six recommendations to try to turn the tide.
“Fraser salmon face a host of complex problems including overfishing, climate related impacts and hatcheries,” said Raincoast’s Wild Salmon Program Director, Misty MacDuffee. “However, the conservation and restoration of freshwater habitat in the Lower Mainland are among the few things that most salmon advocates agree on.”
They are calling on federal and provincial reps to match funding to the scale of the problem and to stop making land-use decisions that continue to degrade salmon habitat.
The timing of the report release comes as several key chinook and sockeye stocks are currently at a crossroads.
The folks with Raincoast are tracking the root causes of habitat loss, working with First Nations, conservation groups and individuals to record ideas. Despite token efforts ongoing habitat destruction has never really stopped, so it urgent, goes the substantiation.
Here are the six recommendations:
• Collaborative efforts on habitat conservation and restoration;
• Implementation of fish-first policies;
• A legislated Fraser watershed plan;
• Sustainable funding;
• Rebuilding of monitoring and research capacity; and
• Investment in wild salmon education and youth
The report notes tens of thousands of hectares of wetlands and forests have been lost in the Lower Mainland since the 1930s. Dikes were disconnected the river by mid-century on 70 per cent of the floodplain.
“There are clear opportunities for municipalities to implement green infrastructure options that help recover salmon populations and reconnect kilometers of habitat all while enhancing our ability to adapt to climate change and sea-level rise,” said Raincoast biologist Dave Scott.
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