Category: Southern Fund

Okanagan River Summer Chinook Survival Study

The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is proposing to conduct a juvenile Chinook survival and habitat use study of the Okanagan River. Survival of hatchery-reared tagged Chinook would be tracked through potential mortality hot spots of the Canadian Okanagan River system. The results of the survival study will be highly important to guide resource allocation for future habitat restoration projects. Further, the results will be critical in refining hatchery smolt release strategies (timing and locations) to maximize survival and achieve rebuilding goals.

Evaluating the use of FSC and commercial fishery catch data to inform in-season management of Pacific salmon fisheries

The overall objective of the project is to assess the utility of data collected from commercial pink salmon and Indigenous Food, Social, and Ceremonial (FSC) sockeye salmon fisheries to support Test Fisheries data used to inform estimates of daily sockeye abundance. ESSA will work with partners from the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), commercial fishers (Canfisco, Area B Harvesters), and FSC fishers (A’Tlegay Fisheries Society) to determine the feasibility of using data from commercial and FSC fisheries to support in-season estimates of daily abundance. While previous work demonstrated that commercial sockeye fishery catch data was a promising source of information to supplement test fishery catch data (Cave 2017, Ma et al. 2019), commercial fisheries for sockeye in the last decade have only opened on dominant-cycle years (i.e., 2010, 2014, and 2018), limiting the utility of this information. This project seeks to extend these promising results to other fisheries – namely the FSC sockeye fishery, which occurs in most years, and to the pink salmon commercial fisheries (odd years), thereby improving the utility of information gained from fisheries for in-season planning.

Using Deep Image Segmentation Methods to Detect and Classify Salmon Species from ARIS Sonar Images

Improvement of species composition estimates in the Fraser River during sockeye salmon migration is a priority of the Fraser River Salmon Fisheries Management for the 2021 projects. Given the low returns of Fraser River sockeye salmon and poor catches from test fishing programs in recent years, species composition estimates based on the catch data have become increasingly unreliable for the in-season management of Fraser stocks. To address this challenge, alternatives methods must be developed to provide reliable species composition estimates for both the daily and the seasonal total sockeye abundance estimates.

For this proposed project, we will use image data from a newer generation of imaging sonar (ARIS), which offers a higher spatial resolution than the DIDSON sonar used in the previous projects. This project is aimed at delivering the following 1) improved accuracy and reliability in species classification; 2) automatic measurements of fish length and other feature variables with confidence rankings that can be used in the PSC mixture model for species composition estimation.


Investigating thermal windows of juvenile Sockeye Salmon populations in freshwater

The influence of climate warming on the growth of juvenile Fraser River Sockeye Salmon rearing in nursery lakes is poorly understood, particularly in the context of the multiple factors that regulate growth in these environments. This represents a key area where climate change and other forcings may be influencing stock outcomes (i.e. productivity), unbeknownst to fisheries managers.

We aim to fill this gap by reconstructing stock-specific long-term time series of annual growth rates of juvenile Sockeye Salmon in freshwater in relation to their thermal environments. The PSC Scale Laboratory plans to measure an additional 10,000 scales this fall and winter to extend the current existing data of scale growth (1990-present) to 1970 – present. Scales of major Fraser River Sockeye Salmon stocks have been consistently collected by the PSC since 1950s and can be paired with otolith samples since the 1970s. Matching freshwater growth of Sockeye Salmon with adult returns will show the relationships between the freshwater growth and overall survival. Linking freshwater growth with biological factors (e.g. number of spawners) and environmental factors, particularly a large range of temperatures, will quantitatively determine the stock-specific thermal windows and identify the thermal optima.

Englishman River Large Woody Debris Revitalization

The Englishman River, located on the East Coast of Vancouver Island, is a major salmon and trout-bearing stream. Land use practices such as logging, agricultural development, and urbanization within the Englishman River watershed have destabilized, and widened the channel, resulting in a lack of large woody debris (LWD) compared to historical conditions (Bocking and Gaboury 2001, Gaboury 2005). LWD influences geomorphic processes and creates fish and aquatic invertebrate habitat (Hilderbrand et al. 1997). As such, the paucity of LWD recruitment on the Englishman River has been identified as factor affecting fish population abundance and recovery (Bocking and Gaboury 2001).

This project will restore a minimum of 6000 m2 of riverine habitat through the rehabilitation of aging large wood structures on the Englishman River, and its tributaries. Large wood structures provide numerous benefits to riverine habitats including sediment capture and retention, the creation of habitat complexity (pools, channel width variation), and erosion control.

Crescent Harbor Creek Restoration

Crescent Harbor Creek is a small stream located on Whidbey Island just north of Crescent Harbor, on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI). The  stream drains into the northwestern edge of the Crescent Harbor Salt Marsh, a 206-acre tidal channel wetland that is the site of a large pocket estuary restoration that was completed by the Skagit River System Cooperative (SRSC) and the US Navy in 2009. The stream channel in this reach has been diked and diverted from its historic alignment into an incised ditch, reducing channel length and increasing flow velocity. Completion of restoration work at Crescent Harbor Creek will add to the quality and capacity of this important rearing site for juvenile salmonids.

Restoration of Juvenile Rearing Habitats in Support of Increased WCVI Chinook Production

MC Wright and Associates Ltd. (MCW) is proposing to construct an off-channel juvenile salmon rearing habitat in the lower Nitinat River to restore habitats lost due to impacts from forest harvesting. In the first year of the two and a half-year project, MCW will collect baseline data and conduct field surveys of the potential restoration sites (only one will be selected) to collect the data necessary to support prescription development (i.e., LiDAR and total station topographical data, groundwater, discharge, and water quality monitoring, fish sampling) and finalize the  prescription. In spring and summer of the second year, MCW will procure and mobilize heavy machinery to the work site, construct the channel, and complete a total station as-built survey and report. MCW will conduct post-construction monitoring the following spring to fall to assess fish use of the newly restored habitat (by minnow trap and electrofisher), fry size, habitat characteristics (e.g., water quality, channel stability, riparian vegetation cover composition).

Skagit River Riparian Restoration Project

This proposal includes restoring native vegetation on 14 acres and controlling invasive species for one year on 42 acres of riparian buffer along the mainstem Skagit River. This proposal would create a 300-foot riparian buffer along the Skagit River and a 150-foot buffer along a winter-wetted swale within a conservation easement in the Skagit River floodplain. It is part of a larger project with additional secured funding that aims to restore native vegetation on 55 acres, control invasive species on 60 acres in three different sites along the Skagit River and Illabot Creek (within the Skagit River floodplain), and maintain the sites for at least three years.

Similk Tidal Marsh Restoration Preliminary Design

The Similk Tidal Marsh Restoration Project is located at the northern end of Similk Bay along the southern shoreline of Fidalgo Island, Skagit County, Washington State, USA. This project will develop a preliminary design for a construction action that will breach a dike and roadway on Similk Beach to restore tidal flow and fish access to a 17-acre pocket estuary. Pocket estuaries are small tidal marshes in the nearshore environment that are not directly associated with a river or large stream, and they provide critical rearing habitats for juvenile Chinook salmon transitioning from freshwater to marine conditions. The potentially restored pocket estuary in Similk Bay is one of twelve pocket estuaries available to juvenile Chinook salmon within a one-day migration from the Skagit River delta, so this is a rare opportunity to restore an important habitat type. In addition to Chinook, this project will also likely benefit chum, coho, and salmon prey species including Pacific herring, surf smelt, and sand lance.

Chinook Baseline Expansion with Genome-Wide SNPs

In previous years, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission  has been funded to expand the genetic baseline for Chinook salmon with microsatellite markers and more recently single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) markers. While this has provided moderate improvement to baselines used for genetic stock identification (GSI), new technology is available that allows for vastly increasing the number of SNPs that can be added to baseline populations. This new technology uses an approach called Restriction-site Associated DNA (RAD) tags to genotype thousands of SNPs in baseline samples. This should provide a nearly unlimited number of powerful markers for GSI purposes and greatly improve the resolution and accuracy of mixed stock analyses.

S12-I14 Chinook Baseline Expansion with Genome-Wide SNPs. Year 4

S10-I10 Chinook Baseline Expansion with SNP Markers. Year 3

S08-I17 SNP Development and Lab Infrastructure Support for Genetic Stock ID

S07-I33 Chinook Baseline Expansion with Additional Genetic Markers. Year 3.

S06-I02 Extension of the Chinook Salmon Microsatellite Baseline

S05-I11 Extension of the Chinook Salmon Microsatellite Baseline