The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) is partnering with SkeenaWild Conservation Trust by investing $50,000 from its Skeena River Salmon Enhancement Program into research that will play an important role in the future recovery of wild salmon stocks in British Columbia.
The Skeena Sockeye Century Project will examine data going back as far as 1913, to establish a baseline for sockeye populations in the region. Using DNA testing, researchers are reconstructing historical abundances and diversity of individual populations by analyzing thousands of scale samples collected from commercial fisheries at the mouth of the Skeena in the 1930s and 1940s, when official counts of spawning salmon first began. They will then examine whether climate change over the last century has differentially impacted freshwater nursery lakes for sockeye in the Skeena Watershed.
Beyond creating historic baselines for sockeye populations, findings from this project will give researchers the ability to more accurately determine lake productivity, data that can be used for future assessment of various changes to fish population and health. The information gathered will also help identify which lakes are most vulnerable to climate change and should take priority in sockeye conservation planning.
“The Prince Rupert Port Authority recognizes that a healthy salmon population is vital to the entire Northwest region,” said Shaun Stevenson, President & CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority. “We take our commitment to our communities and the environment seriously, and we are pleased to partner with organizations like SkeenaWild and the Pacific Salmon Foundation who share our sustainability values, and will pursue informed approaches and innovative solutions related to the health of Skeena River salmon”.
“The Skeena Sockeye Century Project will provide the type of scientific insight we need to better protect and enhance wild salmon ecosystems in our region. Collaborating with the Prince Rupert Port Authority to enable this research aids our common goals of informing management decisions for the Skeena River estuary and rebuilding wild salmon populations,” said Greg Knox, Executive Director, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.
“The Skeena Sockeye Century Project will be a significant contributor to scientific databases and recovery of sockeye in British Columbia. The findings will help us better understand genetic baselines for salmon, as well as aid in distinguishing smaller spawning populations and how they have been impacted over time,” said Dianne Ramage, Director of Salmon Recovery Programs, Pacific Salmon Foundation.
With a total project cost of $160,000, the Skeena Sockeye Century Project is receiving additional support from Skeena upriver nations and organizations, the Government of Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, W. Garfield Weston Foundation, MakeWay, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Simon Fraser University.
Source: Prince Rupert Port Authority