FISHING -- Sockeye runs in Canadian waters area suffering the same warm-water woes as the salmon in the Columbia River system.
British Columbia biologist: Warm water, low levels put Fraser River sockeye at risk
The Fraser River in British Columbia is a gauntlet through which Pacific salmon must pass in order to spawn, but this year's drought and higher than normal temperatures have pushed water levels in the river down to a 25-year low and water temperatures to a record 20.5 degrees Celsius for this time of year. University of British Columbia biologist Tony Farrell said if conditions continue, few Pacific salmon will attempt to make the swim up the river, and those that do, will likely die.
Here's the latest report on the drought-related effort to preserve broodstock for Idaho's endangered sockeye:
47 sockeye transported to Eagle Hatchery
By Josh Babcock/Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Due to extreme heat and low flows warming the Snake and Columbia rivers and killing endangered sockeye, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has trapped and transported 47 sockeye from Lower Granite Lock and Dam to Eagle Hatchery near Boise to help ensure their survival.
The survival efforts began July 28, but from Saturday to late Monday afternoon no sockeye passed Lower Granite for IDFG to transport to Boise. IDFG is using those sockeye from Lower Granite to supply and fertilize the hatchery’s eggs.
Russ Kiefer, fisheries biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said it’s getting late in the run for sockeye to pass Lower Granite and if no additional sockeye are collected by 11 a.m. today, it’s likely the trap and transport effort at Lower Granite will end.
According to weekly reports from the Fish Passage Center, at this time last year the dam already counted more than 2,570 of the 2,786 sockeye that passed in 2014. So far this year, only 380 sockeye have passed Lower Granite. It’s the lowest number since only 52 sockeye passed the dam to migrate upstream in 2007.
After passing Lower Granite, sockeye have another 400 miles to travel and 5,000 feet in elevation to climb to reach their spawning grounds at Redfish Lake.
"We’re moving to the conclusion the fish we haven’t counted are likely dead," Kiefer said.
Salmon are usually collected near Stanley, Idaho, but so far this year only two sockeye have made the trip to Stanley without the help of IDFG.
Kiefer said he traveled to the Lyons Ferry Hatchery to examine a cold-water plume where it was believed sockeye were stalling their migration to stay cool. After snorkeling the water, Kiefer said he saw two sockeye, at most.
Kiefer said it’s likely some sockeye traveled up cooler tributaries to escape the heat, but he’s unaware of any other cool pools along the Snake River where sockeye could be stalled.
He said the decision by IDFG to stop or continue trap and transport of sockeye will take place this morning.