Drought overshadows workshop about helping BC salmon population


Close to 250 people from across the province are at Vancouver Island University this weekend.

They’re among the 30,000 volunteers who work on enhancing B.C.’s salmon populations.

Organizers say their work is crucial and so they’re here to find out what’s working and what’s not.

“Get them together, share ideas, network and hopefully take home some ideas to help out in their local watersheds,” said organizer Laura Pellett of Nanaimo River Stewardship Society.

And one of the big points of discussion is B.C.’s changing climate.

Just this past week volunteers were moving salmon fry from shallow pools in the Cowichan River to deeper waters because the river is so low.

“On the east coast of the island conditions are changing and we’ve been experiencing drought,” said Adam Silverstein, of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“It’s not yet June here yet and we’ve already had lots of temperatures over 30 degrees and low reservoir levels and things of that nature so there are lots of challenges but there’s lots of effort and dedication too.”

Silverstein, a DFO regional manager who oversees community efforts, says the province is fortunate to have so many volunteers aiding salmon and there are highlights. For example, the Cowichan River has seen strong chum returns the past couple of years.

But he says addressing changing conditions for salmon is a major concern.

“They’re changing at a more rapid pace than ever and so part of the conversation this morning is how do we adapt to that change. What are some of things we can do to help salmon in the midst of all those challenges,” said Silverstein.

The goal is to find solutions to help salmon thrive into the future.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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