Proposed Abstract Title

The long road to recovery of an endangered salmon stock that is facing a multiple, unconnected but compounding threats.

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

From Conversation to Conservation Action: Balancing Endangered Species Protection and Growth on BC's South Coast

Location

2016SSEC

Description

The Sakinaw Lake sockeye salmon population is endemic to one lake located at the northern edge of the Sunshine coast and due to its unique biology has been classified as a Designatable Unit (DU) by COSEWIC. Beginning in the late 1980s the population underwent a significant decline in abundance, and in 2002 the stock was listed as endangered by COSEWIC. During 2006-2009 spawner counts ranged 0-1 fish and the stock was essentially extirpated in the wild. There were multiple, anthropogenic and natural compounding factors that drove the stock to its depleted state. Hence recovery efforts, which commenced prior to extirpation, have attempted to mitigate or address threats from multiple sources. The single greatest contributor to persistence of the population has been a captive breeding program. The captive program involved hatchery rearing to adult stage, spawning and release of juveniles to Sakinaw Lake along with re-cycling of fish through captive rearing. A simple breeding design to avoid fullsib matings and optimize outbreeding levels was employed. In 2011, significant adult returns to Sakinaw Lake from released captive juveniles were observed, and adult sockeye of captive origin have returned in variable numbers every year since. Sakinaw lake habitat has been substantially modified during the last century. Restoration to a state that is more amenable for wild spawning and rearing of this anadromous species has required a careful consideration of land owner preferences. These two priorities sometimes include conflicting requirements. By-catch of the stock in salmon fisheries has varied greatly during the last several decades. Finally, the single greatest obstruction to recovery may be poor marine survival conditions, and it may be that reduced levels captive breeding will sustain the stock during this period. This represents the first re-establishment of a successfully reproducing sockeye salmon population in Canada from captively-bred individuals.

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The long road to recovery of an endangered salmon stock that is facing a multiple, unconnected but compounding threats.

2016SSEC

The Sakinaw Lake sockeye salmon population is endemic to one lake located at the northern edge of the Sunshine coast and due to its unique biology has been classified as a Designatable Unit (DU) by COSEWIC. Beginning in the late 1980s the population underwent a significant decline in abundance, and in 2002 the stock was listed as endangered by COSEWIC. During 2006-2009 spawner counts ranged 0-1 fish and the stock was essentially extirpated in the wild. There were multiple, anthropogenic and natural compounding factors that drove the stock to its depleted state. Hence recovery efforts, which commenced prior to extirpation, have attempted to mitigate or address threats from multiple sources. The single greatest contributor to persistence of the population has been a captive breeding program. The captive program involved hatchery rearing to adult stage, spawning and release of juveniles to Sakinaw Lake along with re-cycling of fish through captive rearing. A simple breeding design to avoid fullsib matings and optimize outbreeding levels was employed. In 2011, significant adult returns to Sakinaw Lake from released captive juveniles were observed, and adult sockeye of captive origin have returned in variable numbers every year since. Sakinaw lake habitat has been substantially modified during the last century. Restoration to a state that is more amenable for wild spawning and rearing of this anadromous species has required a careful consideration of land owner preferences. These two priorities sometimes include conflicting requirements. By-catch of the stock in salmon fisheries has varied greatly during the last several decades. Finally, the single greatest obstruction to recovery may be poor marine survival conditions, and it may be that reduced levels captive breeding will sustain the stock during this period. This represents the first re-establishment of a successfully reproducing sockeye salmon population in Canada from captively-bred individuals.