Huge concern for sockeye run in BC's South Okanagan region
Kootenay Lake is not the only place in BC having to deal with a decline in fish stocks.
CBC News is reporting there could be a potentially catastrophic collapse of the sockeye salmon run on the Columbia River system this year.
Okanagan Nation Alliance fish biologist Richard Bussanich said latest predictions are now thought to be only 18,000 sockeye will return this year, down drastically from the 100,000 expected to return to spawning grounds in the rivers and streams in British Columbia’s South Okanagan region.
This coming after the 2014 sockeye run in the Columbia River came in as the largest since fish-counting began at the dam in 1938.
“Fish are showing signs of physical stress,” Bussanich told CBC.
“So there are open wounds and fungi and other things. The conditions are harsher than normal.”
Bussanich said more than half of the sockeye on the Columbia have died.
“This is shaping up to be catastrophic for this year,” he said.
“And hopefully we don’t have repeat years because then we will be into major conservation concerns.”
Recreational and commercial sockeye fisheries on Osoyoos Lake have been cancelled for this year to an industry that contributes up to $400,000 to the local economy during normal years.
During a recent meeting in Balfour, Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) biologists said the shortage of kokanee in Kootenay Lake has led to Gerrard Rainbow, which depends on kokanee as its food source, looking more like skinny, long snake-like-looking fish than the prize trophy catches Kootenay Lake is known for.
A local biologist predicted the loss for Kootenay Lake businesses that depend on fishing in the millions of dollars.